AFTER an enjoyable Cricket World Cup, it’s time to focus on the IPL. We asked cricket fanatic Josh Healey (@joshhealey04) to preview the season for us.
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) – 15/4 (888Sport)
CSK’s finishing positions since the IPL’s inception in 2008 reads: 3rd, 2nd, 3rd, 2nd, 4th, 1st and 3rd. Having made the play-offs in every edition, they have taken part in five finals, winning two.
The key men from last year all remain and although they have no stand out additions to shout about from this year’s auction, the consistency in personnel should serve them well.
Brendon McCullum will be vital for them. He’s coming off the back of a solid World Cup campaign where he scored 328 runs, boasting the best strike rate in the tournament of 189. Last season he notched 405 runs at a healthy average of 31. The fearsome New Zealanders approach to opening the batting is currently unrivalled in world cricket.
CSK have the best selection of Indian players of all the sides – Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Ravi Ashwin, Ravi Jadeja and Mohit Sharma is an incredible array of talent. Accompany that with some outstanding overseas players and they are certainly a side to be feared. There’s no reason why CSK can’t lead from the front this season, but at 15/4 the value is not there.
Place prediction – 1st
Delhi Daredevils (DD) – 14/1 (888 Sport)
DD have made several changes to their squad. Some fantastic players have joined their ranks, the likes of Yuvraj Singh and Angelo Mathews, but the question is whether these players will be able to settle in time. Individuals can win you games but playing as a team is what gets you over the line more often than not.
Expect JP Duminy to be a play major part in their season. From 53 games spanning across five IPL’s, the South African all-rounder averages 40 with the bat whilst maintaining a highly respectable economy rate of 7.2 with the ball. Duminy, who will captain DD this year, scored 410 runs at an average of 51 last season.
DD have chopped and changed personnel too much since they topped the table back in 2012. They remind me of QPR – a mix and match of good, sometimes quality, players but they seem to struggle to find that winning formula. DD have finished last in the previous two editions of the IPL with a total of just 5 wins from 30 games – a truly woeful record.
Place prediction – 8th
Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) – 6/1 (888 Sport)
KXIP revolutionised T20 cricket in the last IPL and I expect their aggressive and fearless approach will see them making waves once again. It was only their bowling that let them down at the final hurdle last season and that could happen again as they have no additions of note there.
However, their batting promises to be just as strong, if not stronger. No big signings, but KXIP have kept hold of their best players, who collectively peaked too early in the last edition.
Their star man Glenn Maxwell lit up the IPL last season, smashing 552 runs at an obscene strike rate of 188. The Australian all-rounder topped the sixes chart with an impressive 36 maximums. Maxwell has matured and improved in the last year after becoming an integral part of the Australia ODI setup, so expect him to have another good campaign here.
Under the energetic and uplifting captaincy of George Bailey you can guarantee this exciting bunch of players will be given the freedom to express themselves.
Place prediction – 3rd
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) – 13/2 (Ladbrokes)
KKR found the winning formula last season – a reliable opening partnership; a middle-order packed with firepower and versatility; and the perfect blend of raw pace and canny spin bowling. Their abundance of all-rounders allowed for plenty of options within each game both in terms of bowling and batting.
KKR have retained all of their key players including danger man Sunil Narine who continues to bamboozle batsmen left, right and centre despite having been on the circuit for a number of years. The West Indian mystery spinner has notched 67 wickets in 47 IPL matches for KKR, on average going for just 5.8 runs per over in the process – a simply astonishing record.
On top of their retention they’ve made an interesting addition in young mystery spinner KC Cariappa; how much Cariappa will feature remains to be seen though. If opener Robin Uthappa doesn’t hit the form he showed last year it could expose the brittle middle-order, but with the best bowling attack in the league I’d be surprised if KKR didn’t make the play-offs once again. 13/2 is decent value for a side that was so dominant last season.
Place prediction – 2nd
Mumbai Indians (MI) – 13/2 (Bet365)
MI will play all seven home games at the Wankhede where they won 4/5 in 2014 and 8/8 in 2013. The addition of Aussie opener Aaron Finch looks to have solved the conundrum of who to have opening the batting, a problem that hampered them in the early stages of last season.
Keep an eye on Corey Anderson. The burly New Zealander may have only managed 265 runs last season but his knock of 95* to see MI through to the play-offs highlighted what an immense talent he is. Coming off the back of an excellent World Cup campaign (231 runs and 14 wickets), MI would be stupid not to continue batting him at No.3 and giving him responsibilities with the ball.
Will MI be able to find consistency with their batting line-up and from their overseas players though? Too much chopping and changing ultimately cost them last season and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case again; they appear to have seven stand out overseas players all with a good chance of making the starting XI.
Knowing your best side is vital for gaining consistency and momentum and MI’s best side looks a very tough one to pick, however their abundance of quality should see them go close.
Place prediction – 5th
Rajasthan Royals (RR) – 12/1 (Betfred)
The Aussie trio of James Faulkner, Shane Watson and Steve Smith gives RR a solid core, with some impressive Indian talent making up the rest of the side, including the likes of Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson.
Faulkner’s bowling was very expensive last season, but the potential is there as shown in 2013 where he took 28 wickets at an economy of just 6.8. The Australian all-rounder is just as good with the bat as with the ball; RR batted him far too low down the order last season, as his average of 45 and strike rate of 193 illustrated.
Some of the Royals decisions were baffling last season, with Smith missing out on four games and little faith being shown in Faulkner’s batting, but hopefully RR will have learnt from these mistakes. MI snatched their play-off spot from them last season in what was the most incredible spectacle I’ve ever seen in T20 cricket, and of course RR will be keen to put that right.
There’s no doubt that RR can compete with the best, as was shown by completing the double over eventual winners KKR last season. This underrated side should be able to cause plenty of upsets over the course of the season.
Place prediction – 4th
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) – 9/2 (888 Sport)
RCB have failed to make the play-offs in the last three editions; it’s quite baffling how it never seems to have clicked for them despite always having an array of talent in their side. Yuvraj Singh may have left to join DD but Dinesh Karthik looks a decent enough replacement.
They also have AB de Villiers in their ranks. The best batsman in the world at this current moment, AB has played in every IPL to date and from 88 games averages a more than respectable 35 at a strike rate of 139. Although he couldn’t lead SA to World Cup glory, he himself had a fantastic tournament smashing 492 runs at an unbelievable average of 96.4.
With AB and Mitchell Starc both in form following the World Cup, you’d think they should be able to fire RCB to a play-off spot, but I’m not so sure. I can’t quite put my finger on it but they just don’t take my fancy. They have been the let downs of the IPL for the past three years and I’m not convinced they will rectify that this season. At odds of 9/2 they are definitely not worth backing.
Place prediction – 7th
Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) – 12/1 (Betfred)
I had a small punt on SRH to win the IPL last year but unfortunately they disappointed and didn’t quite manage to make the play-offs. Inconsistencies in their batting line up, partly thanks to having three quality openers, meant their batting failed to click and that ultimately cost them.
SRH could go well this year, especially considering the excellent additions of New Zealanders Kane Williamson and Trent Boult, and at 9/1 they do look decent value in fairness.
David Warner, who will captain SRH this season, has been very consistent throughout his IPL career (2009-2014), averaging 32 from 69 games. Last season was his best yet, where he notched 528 runs at an exceptional average of 48. Warner was the 11th top runscorer at the World Cup and so is going into this tournament full of confidence.
They are a good bowling side and if their batting clicks this time round it would be foolish to rule them out, but their Indian talent isn’t as impressive as that possessed by some other sides. You feel if SRH are to go far then it will be the overseas players that will have to carry them.
Place prediction – 6th
With so much talent spread across all eight sides anyone can beat anyone; it’s very tough to call a winner before a ball is bowled and even tougher to predict the places of all the sides (I must have changed my mind about five times)!
Outright bets are more accurate around halfway through the tournament, perhaps even later, when you’ve had the time to assess each side, however the value is usually long gone by then.
If you’re someone who enjoys a good outright punt then you’ll know it’s important to take advantage of any value on offer before the tournament begins, and I think I’ve found that in RR.
RR finished 3rd in 2013 and in 2014 they somehow only managed 5th place after an incredible play-off deciding match-up with MI. However, RR grasped victory from the jaws of defeat on a few different occasions last season; their commendable team spirit and never say die attitude is reminiscent of the Australian national side.
This makes sense considering three of Australia’s best ODI players represent them. Also bear in mind these three players will be coming into this tournament brimming with confidence after their well-deserved World Cup victory.
The mentorship of Rahul Dravid brings a calm and collected presence to the setup, which in turn aids the budding youngsters, for which RR have been renowned for unearthing. Hopefully they can introduce us to some more promising Indian talent this season.
I feel as though the bookies are underestimating RR here. 7th favourites?! It’s almost insulting. Personally I can’t resist having an each-way punt on them to win what would be their second IPL title (each-way terms are 1/3 odds for finishing runners up). 10/1 with Betfair is a price that’s simply too good to pass up.
IPL 2015 – Rajasthan Royals each way (14/1 Betfred)
What do you think of Josh’s first article for us? Do you agree with his assessment?
Let us know your IPL thoughts in the comments box below.