New Delhi: New teams, new players and new strategies. IPL 4 promises to be bigger and better and opens up the stage as an open-ended T20 thriller. So, as no team is a clear favourite, a look at what each side is capable of and where it may need to tighten the new compositions.
Finalist from the 2010 edition, the team now has Andrew Symonds who has joined the ranks of Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Rohit Sharma and Lasith Malinga. With the skipper himself in terrific form, the side will look to take the opposition apart, systematically.
Strength: With Malinga, Munaf Patel and Harbhajan Singh gunning for wickets, Mumbai Indians look like a side that can spell doom for the opposition with the ball.
Weakness: An inconsistent Keiron Pollard may prove to be a costly buy unless he finds form in the tournament. Dependency on hard hitters like him and Hayden can prove costly.
A star-studded side, the team would look to its new, revamped line up that boasts of Gautam Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan to lead from the front and take the side to victory. Has the potential to blast the opposition into oblivion through sheer batting might.
Strength: Skipper Gautam Gambhir was the most expensive player during the auctions and rightly so. Can deal damage with the bat and will be hungry to prove himself as capable of leading a side.
Weakness: Though Brett Lee and L Balaji will head the pace department, the lethal edge to bowling may just prove inadequate in containing the flow of runs. Spinners will have to come to the fore as well.
With most of the core side retained, CSK begin as favourites and will look to defend their title with fervour. Have an experienced campaigner in MS Dhoni to lead the side and will hope to be more consistent than they were in the league stages, previously.
Strength: The middle-order has received a boost with the inclusion of Scot Styris in the side. The bowling department too looks solid at the onset with a good blend of pace and spin.
Weakness: The opening pair would be something to watch out for though Subramanium Badri has had good IPL outings before. Will need to keep pace with the momentum he tends to set early on.
They have lost Adam Gilchrist but Kumar Sangakkara is no amateur when it comes to T20 cricket. The side has also retained Pragyan Ojha who is capable to spinning tales of collapse on a regular basis. Can expect still, to repeat the win in the 2009 edition.
Strength: Pragyan Ojha and Amit Mishra are more than capable spinners who can restrict the flow of runs as well as chip away wickets. Add to that the services of JP Duminy and it becomes explosive.
Weakness: Kevin Pietersen is out and the batting may just miss a hard-hitting player who can create a rescue act when required. Shikhar Dhawan though would be looked up to, in the opening slots.
Most consider the side as a rather weaker unit compared to its former years. Virender Sehwag though will be keen to continue with the constant performance of the side and finish on a high this time around.
Strength: 175 off 140 balls was Sehwag's personal score in the opening match of the World Cup. His aggression does not need further adjectives.
Weakness: A side with rather inexperienced and then again, some jaded players. While the few veterans like Ajit Agarkar and Irfan Pathan will need to prove themselves again, the new-guns will have to fire as well.
Kings XI Punjab
Their best deal during the recent auctions was to grab Adam Gilchrist with both hands. A known leader who took his former side to glory in 2009, the team will look for an encore from the former Australian wicket-keeper.
Strength: The bowling department has received a boost with the entry of Praveen Kumar and Stuart Broad. A few good finishers like David Hussey can also boost morale, when and if down.
Weakness: The onus of managing the spin department is mainly on Piyush Chawla. If he fails to click, the slower bowlers may well be taken to the cleaners regardless of the attack early on.
The side has known the ups and the downs of IPL like no other. Despite the tag of underdogs, the side lifted the trophy in the inaugural edition, only to fall out of reckoning in the next two. Shane Warne continues to be at the helm and will look to script magic like he did in 2007.
Strength: Shane Warne's spin and Shane Watson's ability as an all-rounder has served the side well. Can prove deadly for the opposition yet again.
Weakness: Too many new faces in the side. The absence of Yusuf Pathan may haunt the side as few of the several youngsters will have to step up and assume the role of a hero.
The side does not have Anil Kumble in the red and yellow but as a mentor. Led by Daniel Vettori, the team has the potential to stage defeats of epic proportions and can set the pace in a match, as seen fit.
Strength: Virat Kohli. Tillakaratne Dilshan. AB de Villiers. Big names and bigger potential to finish the game in style. Zaheer Khan with the ball too is in excellent form.
Weakness: Starting the innings, especially if chasing a mammoth total will be a concern for the team. Should avoid banking too much on the big finishers and sacrificing a solid foundation.
Kochi Tuskers Kerela
Led by Mahela Jayawardena, the side has managed to create a lot of hype around it and will hope to prove it isn't hollow propaganda. Making its debut this season, the team will look to begin with a deafening bang and end with a victorious blast.
Strength: Good blend of youth and experience. Muttiah Muralitharan will lead the spin battalion while local-boy who calls himself S Sreesanth will look to grow in repute in his home repute.
Weakness: VVS Laxman, for all his laurels, can become a liability in the side. The momentum in batting will need to be kept up, regardless of the opposition and its bowling might.
The side is under the player of the series in the recently concluded World Cup. Expect big things from this side which has one of the highest number of players for any IPL team, this season. Getting the right combination will be the key for this side on debut.
Strength: Yuvraj Singh will ensure that no collapse is scripted against his side, under his leadership and with the sort of form he is in. Robin Uthappa is there for any support required.
Weakness: The pace department will need stronger performances than what seems apparent on paper. Ashish Nehra, for all his World Cup heroics, can be shoddy on his bad-day. Jerome Taylor too, will need to come good.