The annual cricket festival is back. It is time for the fans to flock the stadiums, for cheerleaders to take the dance floor, for the players to take the field. But before we move forward let’s take a look at IPL team profile and how the franchisees have shaped their teams.

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In the first few matches of IPL season 11 we have already seen some great individual and team performances. (Source)

The VIVO INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE (IPL) is back with its 11th edition. IPL 2018 began on 7th April 2018 and will end 27 May 2018. In the first match we saw a nail biting finish from CSK as they overpowered Mumbai in the last over of the match at the Wankhede Stadium.

60 matches, including the qualifiers and the finals, will be played over a span of 50 days. Ten venues will play host and for the first time, the Decision Review System (DRS) will be incorporated.

With the Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals reinstated into the competition, after serving two years of suspension for the involvement of their players and owners in the 2013 IPL betting case, the fans will again be able to witness some of the great rivalries. That means teams Rising Pune Supergiant and Gujarat Lions will be discontinued.

However, what are the chances of each team this year? Will Mumbai Indians successfully defend their title or will we have a new champion? Let’s find out and see how each side looks like.

IPL Team Profile – Defending Champions: Mumbai Indians

The memories of the epic 2017 IPL final are still fresh in our minds. Four runs needed off the last, but RPS only manage to get two. MI winning the tournament by one run. Incredible scenes. However, that was not the first time they lifted the trophy. In this history of the competition, they have been the most successful team with three titles in their bag. They won their first title in 2013 when they beat CSK by 23 runs in the final. Their second title came two years later in 2015 against the same opposition. In 2010, they finished as runners-up after losing to the same opponent by 22 runs. It is safe to say that CSK and MI love playing each other in the finals.

Rohit Sharma and co. would look to replicate their last year’s form in this edition and like all the other teams, they would look the bag the elusive trophy. At this year’s IPL auction, they retained Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, and Jasprit Bumrah.

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A well balanced side – Can Mumbai defend their title?

IPL Team Profile – MI Full Squad

Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Krunal Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, Pat Cummins, Evin Lewis, Suryakumar Yadav, Ben Cutting, Mustafizur Rahman, Rahul Chahar, Pradeep Sangwan, Mithell McClenaghan, Jean-Paul Duminy, Saurabh Tiwary, Tajinder Dhillon, Akila Dhananjaya, Nidheesh M D Dinesan, Aditya Tare, Siddhesh Dinesh Lad, Mayank Markande, Sharad Lumba, Anukul Roy, Mohsin Khan

Their bowling line-up, as always looks lethal and they have also picked up some U-19 boys. With experience in their side, MI will surely give the opposition team’s batsmen a hard time.

When it comes to batting, Mumbai Indians bat deep. Expectations are high from Kishan and Evin Lewis and only time will tell how they perform under pressure.

IPL Team Profile – Welcome Back Chennai Super Kings

Two-time champions (2010, 2011) and four-time runners-up ( 2008, 2012, 2013, 2015) CSK are back. All eyes will be Captain Cool and Chennai’s adopted son, M.S. Dhoni who recently received the Padma Bhushan Award. They will not only be tested on the field but also off-the-field where they will be required to put what transpired in 2013 behind them and go out there and play like the champions they are.

As expected, the owners retained Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja along with Dhoni. Suresh Raina is the overall highest run-getter ( 4540 runs) and he will look to prove to the nation that he is still got what it takes to make it to the Indian team permanently. Since Jadeja has been absent from the international circuit for a while, this IPL is crucial for him to play some great cricket and try and win his spot back in the team.

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The adopted son of Chennai – MS Dhoni as always will lead the side.

IPL Team Profile – CSK Full Squad

MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina, Kedar Jadhav, Dwayne Bravo. Karn Sharma, Shane Watson, Shardul Thakur, Ambati Rayudu, Murali Vijay, Harbhajan Singh, Faf Du Plessis, Mark Wood, Sam Billings, Imran Tahir, Deepak Chahar, Mitchell Santner, Lungisani Ngidi, Asif K M, N Jagadeesan, Kanishk Seth, Monu Singh, Dhruv Shorey, Kshitiz Sharma, Chaitanya Bishnoi

Ngidi, Santner and Mark Wood are some the foreign names to watch out for. CSK have a very exciting squad with some unexpected names. On one hand the likes of Bravo, Dhoni, Watson etc will bring in the experience whereas Kshitiz, Bishnoi, Seth and Billings will bring vigour and energy to team. Without a shadow of doubt, they are one of the big teams to look out for.

The spin bowling will be heavily dependent on ageing Harbhajan Singh and Santer which means Imran Tahir will find it difficult to find a place in the team. The fast bowling unit has some serious pace attack in the form of Wood and Ngidi and Indian pacers like Thakur will have to provide soe substantial support.

Batting has always been CSk’s strengths and this yet another team that bats deep. They have a good mix of well-balanced player like Vijay, Du Plessis, and Jadhav and some explosive names like Watson, Jadeja, and Raina.

IPL Team Profile – A Well Balanced Sunrisers Hyderabad

The Sandpaper Gate at Cape Town took the cricketing world by storm. As the involved players face the ban, SRH is one of the unfortunate teams to have lost a crucial player.  Their captain and dynamic opener David Warner has been banned from playing in the IPL and will not be available this season. They had won he 2016 IPL under the same captain. This can prove to be a huge loss to the team. As a result, Kane Williamson will be taking charge and much to the respite of the fans and the franchise, English opener Alex Hales will be joining the squad in his place.

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The 2016 champions – SRH will be led by a new captain Kane Williamson

IPL Team Profile – SRH Full Squad

Alex Hales, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Manish Pandey, Rashid Khan Arman, Shikhar Dhawan, Wriddhiman Saha, Siddarth Kaul, Deepak Hooda, Syed Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma, Kane Williamson, Carlos Brathwaite, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Shreevats Goswami, Mohammad Nabi, Chris Jordan, Basil Thampi, T Natarajan, Sachin Baby, Bipul Sharma, Syed Mehdi Hasan, Ricky Bhui, Tanmay Agarwal

In the bowling department, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar would need essential support from Kaul, Sandeep Sharma, and Basil Thampi. Chris Jordan and is unlikely to get a lot of playing time. The spin departement includes some great names like Shakib Al Hasan, Mohammad Nabi, and Rashid Khan.

With the arrival of Alex Hales, the batting line up now looks balanced. Dhawan will have an equally expressive opening partner in the form of Hales followed by Williamson, Hooda, and wicket-keeper Saha.  It will be interesting whether Yusuf Pathan and Carlos Brathwaite get considerable match time.

IPL Team Profile – A Revamped Kolkata Knight Riders

KKR surprised everyone at the IPL auction. Nobody expected a one team to pick up numerous players from the U-19 team that recently won the U-19 World Cup. After a long time, KKR have a new captain. Dinesh Karthik, who was bought from Gujarat Lions, is currently going through a new lease of life. With his match winning performance in the recently Nidahas Trophy final against Bangladesh. The new KKR skipper is high on performance and the young squad would look to get into a similar zone.

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IPL Team Profile – KKR Full Squad

Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Chris Lynn, Mitchell Starc, Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, Kuldeep Singh Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Nitish Rana, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Mitchell Johnson, Shubman Gill, Ranganath Vinay Kumar, Rinku Singh, Cameron Delport, Javon Searles, Apoorv Vijay Wankhade, Ishank Jaggi

Their bowling includes two future starts. All eyes will be  Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi, who consistently bowled 140+ kmph throughout the U-19 WC.

They will share the field with legendary Mitchell Johnson and they are bound to improve under his guidance. Andre Russell will prove to be important as a pacer all-rounder.  The spin departement will be taken care of by Piyush Chawla, Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Singh Yadav. They can prove to be as lethal as the fast bowlers.

Ever since Narine has started opening, he has been very successful in giving the team an explosive start. He will be supported by big hitters like Chris Lynn, Ishank Jaggi, Karthik, Uthappa and Andre Russell. And obviously, Shubman Gill will look to capitalize on the chances he will get.

(Stay Tuned for Part 2)

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