Unquestionably the most successful side in the competition having reached the playoffs in every IPL season since its inception. However, three years without a title represents something of a drought for the two-time winners.
A team packed with international stars from Brendon McCullum to Faf Du Plessis and MS Dhoni to Ravi Ashwin, CSK look hell bent on ending their dry spell this year.
Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers all bat in RCB’s top four, which makes wince-inducing reading for any opposition bowler reading those words. But as formidable as that trio look on paper, they all played together last season as the side finished second bottom.
A lack of bowling depth was their issue that year, and although World Cup star Mitchell Starc is around, his three-week absence could see Bangalore playing catch up by the time he returns.
Last season’s runners up didn’t need to do much with their offseason moves, and duly kept their squad intact for 2015 with Glenn Maxwell the undoubted star.
The Australian smashed 552 runs for Kings XI last term and has done much to suggest he is a better player now since then. With Mitchell Johnson leading the bowling unit, another strong showing is expected.
Ricky Ponting dips his toe into the coaching waters with last season’s fourth-placed side.
He’ll have some explosive batting to play with in the form of Aaron Finch, Kieron Pollard and Corey Anderson, while Lasith Malinga, Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha provide experience with the ball.
Kolkata have claimed IPL glory in two of the last three years. Their title defence this season was given a serious shot in the arm with the news that West Indies spinner Sunil Narine had his action cleared to bowl at the tournament.
It was their purchase of KC Cariappa that set tongues wagging the most though, shelling out more on the mystery Bangalore club spinner than other sides did on the likes of Kevin Pietersen.
Pietersen may no longer be a part of the Sunrisers set up this season, but the side can still call on international quality throughout their squad.
David Warner, Shikhar Dhawan, Eoin Morgan, Ravi Bopara, Kane Williamson, Dale Steyn, Trent Boult and Ishant Sharma all make up a strong core, but with only four overseas players allowed to be selected, striking a balance with local talent is essential.
The likely future captain of Australia won’t lead his IPL team this season, as Steven Smith will take orders from World Cup winning teammate Shane Watson for the Rajasthan Royals.
With James Faulkner completing the distinctly Antipodean feel of the side, it will be the form of these three that will shape the season for the inaugural winners.
A record-low points tally last season saw the Daredevils perform a spring clean on their playing staff. Few survived the cull, but the huge personnel shift is likely to be an early disturbance to the side’s chances as they strive to work out their best XI.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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