Rohit Sharma’s Team Mumbai are embarking on yet another Indian T20 League with a third consecutive league title in mind. No team has ever managed to win three in a row but Mumbai seem favourites to make history this season. It wouldn’t be as straightforward as it looks, as there are plenty of improved teams in this year’s Indian T20 League and the gap between them isn’t that big.
That’s the beauty of the competition, any team can beat anyone on their day and it promises an exciting brand of cricket. Here we’ve picked the favourites who are looking most settled before the tournament.
Rohit Sharma-led Team Mumbai has been outstanding in the previous seven campaigns. The team has managed to win five titles since 2013. They start yet again as favourites to retain the title and for good reasons. Mumbai has the most balanced side in the competition and a middle-order which is light years ahead of the others. The middle phase of the innings is dominated by Mumbai and last season they scored at the highest rate in that phase.
They are the bookies’ favourites this year but the only issue they’ll face is that they have the majority of their league matches on low slow turning wickets. With a pace dominant bowling attack and a lack of a world-class spinner in the squad, that could be Mumbai’s Achilles heel this season.
Every year Team Bangalore enter the tournament with the hope that it could be their year. This season things seem a bit different. They have packed their middle-order, unlike the previous seasons where they were top-heavy, and their Indian bowlers have had decent stints at the international level as well.
Virat Kohli has already issued a statement saying that he is going to open this season which seems like a positive move and with the acquisition of Glenn Maxwell and Dan Christian in the team, they have the firepower to outscore any opponent in the league.
They will also be positively impacted by the move of not having their home matches at the run-scoring Chinnaswamy Stadium. This might just be the season when fans in Bangalore can finally fulfil their dreams but again we always say this before every season.
David Warner’s Hyderabad are always the team that slips under the radar but come tournament time, they are right up there with the very best. They have made it to the playoffs in five consecutive seasons, a feat no other team has ever managed to achieve.
Warner is one of the most consistent batsmen in the league and a 500+ season is almost a guarantee with the Aussie opener. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is back from his injury and is bowling like he is in his prime and they have T20’s most lethal bowler, Rashid Khan.
Most of their matches will be played in Chennai and Delhi, pitches that are notorious for their slow nature and Hyderabad will take full advantage of it. Kane Williamson and Jonny Bairstow could rotate given the nature of the surface they will play on and it gives the team plenty of flexibility in the batting order.
This could be MS Dhoni’s last year in the yellow of Chennai and this iconic team is going to get dismantled post this season. Last year was the first time that they failed to make it to the playoffs and they will look to have a much improved performance this season.
They have ‘China Thala’ Suresh Raina back in the camp and he’d look to make an instant impact on the batting of Chennai. At the auction, the team management has packed the team with plenty of all-round options, just the way Dhoni likes his teams to be set up.
They will easily be the team with the most batting depth this season but need to make sure that they make full use of the firepower, something which they failed to capitalise on last season.
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