Breakdown: How the teams stack up after the IPL mega auction

Breakdown: How the teams stack up after the IPL mega auction | Acrux Sports

Chennai Super Kings

Possible starting XI: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devon Conway, Moeen Ali, Robin Uthappa/Shivam Dube, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, MS Dhoni, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, KM Asif/Tushar Deshpande/Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Adam Milne

CSK have adopted the same template that won them the championship last year and have retained or bought back eight of the 11 players who featured in the IPL 2021 final. Their starting XI has a better batting depth than any other side and also gives them a plethora of bowling options to deploy. CSK have an excellent array of quality spin bowling options and a batting lineup proficient playing spin. In Chahar, Bravo and Milne they have proven performers upfront and the backend, but they will miss Shardul Thakur's ability to strike in the middle overs which was vital to their success in UAE last year. In Gaikwad and Conway, they have two high stability anchors at the top with abilities to accelerate as the innings progresses and CSK will be banking on the pair to create the platform for the rest of the lineup to attack all out, a strategy which reaped them rich dividends in IPL 2021.

Even though they possess depth in batting, they are susceptible to high pace and hard lengths bowling and would be betting on Conway to take up that role of that 'overseas pace shield', previously played to perfection by the likes of Matthew Hayden, Michael Hussey and Faf du Plessis. Age is another factor that could prove detrimental in years down the line with as many as six of their first choice players aged 33 or more, but they have banished that notion in the past.

Delhi Capitals

Possible starting XI: Prithvi Shaw, David Warner, Mitchell Marsh, Rishabh Pant, Rovman Powell, Sarfaraz Khan/Mandeep Singh, Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Anrich Nortje, Chetan Sakariya

Having lost the bulk of their strong core from the last three seasons, DC had to rebuild. They missed out on the Indian duo of Shikhar Dhawan and Shreyas Iyer and replaced them with the overseas pair of Warner and Marsh respectively. That leaves them with little or no option to play their favoured two overseas pacers combination unless they leave the lower middle order in the hands of inexperienced Indian batters. They have the option of an in-form Rovman Powell at No.5 and play a core Indian bowling attack with Nortje as the leader. In Shaw and Warner, DC have the most dynamic opening pair in the competition with Marsh and Pant completing a strong top four. The likes of Shardul and Axar give them the required batting depth.

Striking upfront with the ball in the Powerplay will be a cause of concern for Delhi as none of their pacers are genuine new ball wicket takers. The form of Kuldeep Yadav will be another area of concern for the Delhi franchise as the only other wrist spinner at their disposal is the uncapped Pravin Dubey. Marsh has been injury prone which casts doubts over his bowling abilities, meaning Powell is the only other candidate for the sixth bowling slot, leaving them with little room for error as far as their main bowling options are considered.

Gujarat Titans

Possible starting XI: Shubman Gill, Jason Roy/Matthew Wade, Wriddhiman Saha/Abhinav Manohar, Vijay Shankar, David Miller, Hardik Pandya, Rahul Tewatia, Rashid Khan, Mohammed Shami, Lockie Ferguson, Sai Kishore/Pradeep Sangwan/Varun Aaron

Of the ten squads, Gujarat Titans' was one whose starting XI was most difficult to predict given the list of players have assembled. The strength of the side is the bowling core of Rashid Khan, Ferguson and Shami with some decent other additions. The side also have proven pace hitters in the middle order in Hardik, Miller, Tewatia and Vijay Shankar. They also got a fantastic deal when they bagged Jason Roy for his base price of INR 2 crore.

However, the batting lineup is highly skewed towards hitting pace and is vulnerable to spin. The two left-handers in the top six - Wade and Miller - have both struggled against spin in sub-continental conditions complicating their issues. Hardik Pandya's bowling fitness will alter the balance of the side significantly. If he can play the role of the third seamer behind Ferguson and Shami, they could play two quality spinners in Rashid and Sai Kishore with Tewatia as another option. But if he cannot, they would have to play an Indian domestic quick or Alzarri Joseph, leaving out Miller - either way affecting the dynamics of the playing XI.

Kolkata Knight Riders

Possible starting XI: Venkatesh Iyer, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Nitish Rana, Sam Billings, Andre Russell, Pat Cummins, Sunil Narine, Shivam Mavi, Umesh Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy

KKR too have retained the core from their march to the finals last season, but the top order lacks the dynamism from last year with Rahul Tripathi missing. Should they play Alex Hales, they would have to leave out Sam Billings and play one of their uncapped domestic wicketkeepers in the middle order. It remains to be seen if KKR try recreating Chris Lynn - Sunil Narine opening pair with Hales reprising Lynn's role. Nitish Rana is the only established left-hander in the top five and his record against in-spin is poor compared to away-spin, making KKR susceptible to spin matchups lending credence to the tactic to push Narine up the order in some of the matches at least. The key to their success in the second half of IPL 2021 was the spin duo of Narine and Chakravarthy and KKR will be banking heavily on the same pair this time around.

The issues which plagued them badly in the last cycle, however, could hurt them again in the coming season. The absence of a cutting edge in their pace contingent to strike in the Powerplay and stem the scoring at the back end. Whether Cummins steps up and fills the Lockie Ferguson void remains to be seen. Fitness related issues to their core players Narine, Russell and Chakravarthy and lack of able replacements could be the other swords hanging over KKR's fortunes.

Lucknow Super Giants

Possible starting XI: KL Rahul, Quinton de Kock/Evin Lewis, Manish Pandey, Krunal Pandya, Marcus Stoinis, Deepak Hooda, Jason Holder, K Gowtham/Ankit Rajpoot, Mark Wood, Ravi Bishnoi, Avesh Khan

Despite being a new team, Lucknow managed to forge a good Indian core along with some quality overseas purchases and are among the most balanced squads. They have a mix of batters proficient against spin as well as pace and can balance between attack and strike rotation. The starting XI has depth in batting and within the top seven, there are also bowling options. Their pace attack is varied, and the bowlers offer value at multiple phases of an innings.

The tendency of Rahul to play it safe combined with Manish Pandey's indifferent runs of form could create a logjam in the first half of the innings, especially on slowish tracks against quality spin attacks. Mark Wood's fitness to last a full season could be another issue but LSG have covered it with an able replacement in Dushmanta Chameera.

Mumbai Indians

Possible starting XI: Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Kieron Pollard, Tim David, Daniel Sams, Jaydev Unadkat, Mayank Markande, Jasprit Bumrah, Tymal Mills/Riley Meredith

It was always going to be tough for Mumbai to recreate their successful 2019-20 template after letting go of the likes of Kishan and the Pandya brothers. While they have an array of gun overseas picks, their Indian core is not up to the mark as it was in the best part of last decade. Kishan is likely to play the hitter role at the top in the absence of a hard hitting overseas opener. The strength of the team is batting - the top three comprising of Rohit, Kishan and Suryakumar and the finishers in Pollard, Tim David, Sams, and Fabian Allen - and fast bowling. The salivating Jofra Archer - Bumrah pairing will take effect only in 2023. This season, Bumrah will be supported by the likes of Mills and Meredith making them one of the quickest attacks in the competition.

Mumbai have one of the weakest spin contingent and if the pacers don't dent the opposition with the new ball, they could be in trouble through the middle overs. The lack of a quality backup opener also sticks out. None of their lead bowlers can bat which leaves them with a very long tail and could hinder their preferred strategy of attack from the onset.

Punjab Kings

Possible starting XI: Mayank Agarwal, Shikhar Dhawan, Raj Bawa, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone, Shahrukh Khan, Odean Smith, Kagiso Rabada, Rahul Chahar, Arshdeep Singh, Sandeep Sharma/Ishan Porel/Harpreet Brar

With just two Playoffs appearances in 14 seasons, Punjab was a side that badly needed a reset and the squad they've assembled points at a step in a different direction. The personnel picked allows them to maximise boundary hitting. Mayank and Dhawan offers solidity and consistency at the top and are both excellent players of spin bowling. They would aim to set the platform for the rest of the middle order to explode. In Bairstow, Livingstone, Shahrukh and Smith, the side has the potential to be the best six-hitting side of the season. The overseas backups in Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Benny Howell and Nathan Ellis also offer value but the same cannot be said of the Indian backups.

The bowling attack lacks a little of the pedigree that defines their batting. Rabada will be expected to do the heavy lifting with Rahul Chahar as the lead middle overs wicket taking option. Arshdeep, Porel and Odean Smith are promising, and Punjab would need one of them to step up without which the good job done by their batters could be undone.

Rajasthan Royals

Possible starting XI: Jos Buttler, Yashaswi Jaiswal, Devdutt Padikkal, Sanju Samson, Shimron Hetmyer, Riyan Parag, James Neesham, R Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Trent Boult, Prasidh Krishna

RR undid their good work on the first day with a rather average second day. Buttler and Jaiswal are a dynamic pairing at the top of the order while Samson and Hetmyer are a punishing duo in the death overs. Boult and Chahal provide quality wicket taking options in the Powerplay and middle overs complemented by the defensive skills of Ashwin and the pace and bounce of rapidly rising Prasidh.

Like their squad last year, their batters prefer pace and are vulnerable to quality spin. Padikkal does have good stability against spin but has lacked the dynamism in the middle overs, but has the potential to turn it around in the course of time. The side lacks in balance because none of their bowlers are boundary hitters which leaves them with a longish tail. The combination of Neesham and Parag as their sixth bowler leaves them with a distinct weak spot in their bowling attack. Bowling in death overs is another vulnerable area for this attack. Obed McCoy is the most suitable for the phase but getting him into the playing XI would further lengthen the tail.

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Possible starting XI: Virat Kohli, Faf du Plessis, Anuj Rawat, Glenn Maxwell, Mahipal Lomror, Dinesh Karthik, Wanindu Hasaranga, Harshal Patel, Shahbaz Ahmed, Mohammed Siraj, Josh Hazlewood

Unlike the RCB sides of the past, this is one squad where the bowling has greater balance than the batting. Hazlewood, Siraj and Harshal bring different dimensions to RCB's seam attack complemented by the ever improving Hasaranga. The Sri Lankan all-rounder, though, comes with the weight of a huge sum of money and has a big role to play as the middle-overs strike bowler, taking over from the ever reliable Yuzvendra Chahal. Shahbaz, Lomror and Maxwell add to the spin variety.

Kohli and Du Plessis are a solid rather than spectacular pairing at the top and both are susceptible to away spin at the start of their innings. Maxwell will be expected to play the role of spin hitter which he did to perfection last season with the two southpaws Rawat and Lomror on either side of him. RCB's big strength in death overs batting was the dominating presence of AB de Villiers and in his absence that is another area where RCB look very weak.

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Possible starting XI: Rahul Tripathi, Aiden Markram/Glenn Phillips, Kane Williamson, Nicholas Pooran, Abhishek Sharma, Abdul Samad, Romario Shepherd, Washington Sundar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, T Natarajan, Kartik Tyagi/Umran Malik

SRH remained true to their doctrine of stocking up Indian seamers, getting back some of the incumbents and finding like-to-like replacements for the rest. Lack of pace was a concern for their attack in the recent seasons and the likes of Malik and Tyagi should set the speed guns on fire. Tripathi and Markram/Phillips gives them an attacking pair at the top of the order. In Williamson, they have one of the best facilitator in the middle overs and he combines forces with a spin destroyer in Pooran, whose recent form, however, has been patchy at best. SRH have also acquired the services of three quality bowling all-rounders in Shepherd, Sean Abbott, and Marco Jansen - trying to address the late overs collapses which recurred often in the last cycle.

The departure of Rashid Khan leaves a gaping hole in the spin department with his replacement Shreyas Gopal nowhere near the same league. None of Sundar, Abhishek Sharma or J Suchith are genuine wicket taking options which leaves them without a strike bowler in the middle phase of the innings. Bhuvneshwar Kumar's form and Natarajan's fitness are also causes of concern as is Shepherd's propensity to leak runs, leaving too much on the young shoulders of Malik and Tyagi, should the seniors fail to step up.