As the Indian Premier League (IPL) is less than a month away, all fans are eagerly waiting for the mega event to begin and keeping a track of the preparations of all the 8 teams. The franchises made sure that they pick the right combinations and overcome the weaknesses of their squads in the auction which was held in Jaipur in December 2018.
The schedule for the IPL was announced by the Board of Control for Cricket in India on Tuesday. The time table was announced for only the first couple of weeks keeping in mind that the dates of the general elections, which will be held in April-May, are not yet declared by the Election Commission.
The IPL 2019 is said to be the most peculiar of all editions till date because the attention of the annual event is lowered as the ICC World Cup will be played soon after the tournament. Players from England and Australia are not available to play the league for the entire duration. But even though the excitement dips a bit fans are still eagerly looking forward to the IPL.
In this piece, we take a look at players from all the 8 teams that fans should watch out for due to various reasons.
#8 Delhi Capitals - Sandeep Lamichanne and Prithvi Shaw
With a new name for the franchise, the Delhi Capitals will hope that it brings a change in fortunes as well. The team has a lot of young players with exceptional talent to watch out for but Sandeep Lamichanne and Prithvi Shaw will be ones grabbing the attention.
The Nepali wrist spinner impressed in the few opportunities that he got last season and bowled brilliantly in the Big Bash League, picking up 11 wickets in 7 matches, including a 3/11 against the Sydney Sixers.
India batsman Shaw will be looking to impress the selectors in the IPL to make sure that he gets a chance to debut in the limited overs team as well. The young batsman has recently returned to action in the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament after being sidelined due to an ankle injury during a practice game of the Australia tour.
#7 Kings XI Punjab - Varun Chakravarthy and Sam Curran
Another team that was active in the auction was Kings XI Punjab. The franchise bought a lot of fresh talent on the auction table like Sam Curran and Varun Chakravarthy and will be banking on the duo to guide to their maiden title.
Tamil Nadu off-spinner, Chakravarthy was one of the most successful bowlers in the Tamil Nadu Premier League and will be the one to watch out for. With off-spinners like captain Ravichandran Ashwin and Afghan teenager Mujeeb Ur Rahman in the squad, it will be interesting to see whether the 26-year-old gets a chance to feature in the squad.
Curran who was the Man of the Series in the Test series between India and England, was picked by KXIP for a whopping ₹7.2 crore. He will be key to the team's fortunes as he can give the captain 4 overs and also contribute runs in the lower order.
#6 Royal Challengers Bangalore - Shimron Hetmyer, AB De Villiers and Shivam Dubey
The Royal Challengers Bangalore will be looking to end their trophy drought in the 12th edition of the IPL after finishing as runners up 3 times in the past 11 seasons. The franchise has made changes in the coaching staff and added to the arsenal of players so that they can finish by winning the tournament.
Shimron Hetmyer and Shivam Dubey were the two costliest buys made by the franchise. Hetmyer was impressive on the tour of India with the Indian team and has been a vital cog in the West Indies team of late. Dubey has been a part of the Mumbai Ranji team and smashed 5 sixes in an over just a day prior to the auction, which further enhanced the interest of the franchises in this player who bowls as well.
AB De Villiers has always been a crucial player for the team ever since he was bought in 2011. This time around fans will be looking at how Mr. 360 fares in the tournament, following his retirement from international cricket soon after the IPL last season.
#5 Mumbai Indians - Yuvraj Singh and Kieron Pollard
Three-time Champions Mumbai Indians will be one team that everybody will have their eyes on. The joint most successful side in the IPL has a lot of players to keep an eye on but certainly, Yuvraj Singh and Kieron Pollard will be in the spotlight.
Veteran all-rounder Yuvraj may well be into his last season and it could be an opportunity for the 2011 World Cup winner to end on a high. The left-hander wasn’t picked by any of the sides in the first round of the auction but the Mumbai Indians picked him for the base price in the latter stages. It will be interesting to see whether the team management lead by Rohit Sharma and Mahela Jayawardene gives him a chance to be in the playing XI in the initial stages of the campaign.
Like Yuvraj, Pollard is another experienced player in the MI set up. The Carribean all-rounder, who has been a key part of the title-winning teams in 2013, 2015 and 2017, didn’t have a good season last year and there were calls to release him ahead of the auction. But such is the stature of the West Indian that he will still have a lot of fans who will be believing him.
#4 Rajasthan Royals - Ajinkya Rahane and Steve Smith
Rajasthan Royals will look to end their wait of the second title in this season. The inaugural champions haven’t reached the final of the tourney ever since the 2008 IPL.
Fans from all over the world will be having an eye on Steve Smith who will return to action, post the Newlands saga and his injury problems. The Australian had surgery and will be playing the IPL as a preparatory tournament for the World Cup in England which he is likely to play. Though the Australian will not have enough game time, the former captain will still be one of the players to watch out for not only in his team but also in the tournament.
The captain of the franchise from the Pink City, Ajinkya Rahane, like many other players, has an opportunity to come back into the Indian limited overs setup for the World Cup, courtesy of a good performance in the IPL.
#3 Kolkata Knight Riders - Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Lockie Ferguson
Kolkata Knight Riders bought a lot of fresh talent in last year’s mega-auction and one of them was Kamlesh Nagarkoti, a part of India’s U-19 World Cup winning team. Unfortunately, the speedster missed the 2018 edition due to injury.
Nagarkoti would be looking to impress in his debut IPL season alongside Shivam Mavi who impressed in last season’s IPL. The duo played a key role in India’s triumph at the U-19 World Cup last year under the leadership of Prithvi Shaw.
Lockie Ferguson, the Kiwi pacer will be making a comeback in the tournament as he was unsold in the 2018 auction despite an impressive display with the Rising Pune Supergiant in the 2017 edition. Ferguson has been one of the stars for the Kiwis in the shortest format recently and will look to bring that form over to KKR now.
#2 Sunrisers Hyderabad - David Warner, Wriddhiman Saha and Abhishek Sharma
Sunrisers Hyderabad has players coming back to cricket after a long time due to different issues. David Warner will be back in action and fans will be interested to see how the two-time Orange Cap winner will be performing after being suspended for Cricket Australia post the infamous ball-tampering scandal.
The left-hander has been a part of the T20 leagues but has been fighting injury issues off late. The IPL will be essential preparation for him as he looks to get back in Australia's World Cup squad.
Another player making a comeback is Wriddhiman Saha. Saha has been facing a lot of injury-related issues in the past 12 months and it will be interesting to see how the Bengal keeper-batsman performs in this IPL.
The 3rd player to watch out for is Abhishek Sharma. He was of the U-19 World Cup winning squad last year and played a pivotal role in the same. He impressed in the few chances he got for the Delhi Daredevils last season including a 19-ball 45. He was traded to SRH in the trading window which included the transfer of Shikhar Dhawan to the Delhi Capitals. The left-hander can be impressive if he is given a chance.
#1 Chennai Super Kings - Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh
In this year’s IPL Auction, CSK only bought 2 players having retained a bulk of their squad. Suresh Raina, the experienced campaigner will be one player that fans will be having their eyes on as he hasn’t been in the spotlight ever since the last edition.
The southpaw has been dropped from the Indian team and will be aiming to come back in the limited overs squad for the ICC World Cup through good performance in the IPL. He is also 15 runs short from the 5000-run mark in his IPL Career.
The other player to watch out for from CSK is Harbhajan Singh. Like Suresh Raina, Harbhajan has also been out of action since the 2018 tournament and has been in the commentary box. He has been playing in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali. The IPL 2019 may well be the final season of the legendary spinner and will hope that he ends on a high.