Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid are set to take the sixth edition by storm.
New Delhi: In part two of Cricketnext's look at how the nine IPL 6 franchises stack up: Mumbai, Delhi, Rajasthan and Pune.
Name: Mumbai Indians
Captain: Ricky Ponting
Coach: John Wright
Owner: Reliance Industries Ltd.
Cost of team: $111.9 million
Key players: Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Ambati Rayudu, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga and Rohit Sharma. Ponting, despite not playing in the IPL since 2008, could prove a big asset as leader and batsman. Tendulkar, Rohit and Pollard are major batsman while Malinga remains a lethal bowler in Twenty20 and Pollard's all-round skills bring flair and substance.
Strengths: Mumbai have a good bowling attack. Malinga is a proven match-winner, Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha are solid spin options, Dhawal Kulkarni has evolved and Nathan Coulter-Nile and Glenn Maxwell could prove worthy purchases. Pollard brings dominance in all three departments, while with the bat the team has plenty of strength.
Weaknesses: Mumbai have always struggled to find an opener to partner Tendulkar, and this has led to their struggles. Beinga bit thin with the bat after the top order, they will hope new recruits in Ponting and Phillip Hughes and local talent put their hands up.
2012 Performance: Despite the money doled out on refurbishing their squad, Mumbai finished fourth. Poor returns from Tendulkar and Harbhajan were a big factor and the lack of dominating individual and collective performances meant Mumbai often struggled to flex their muscle.
2013 Prospects: If Mumbai play their cards well and aren't hampered by further injuries or loss of form, they can prove a strong threat to CSK, KKR and RCB. The massive amount spend on Maxwell will need to pay dividends. Hiring John Wright as coach and Anil Kumble as mentor could also prove tactical masterstrokes.
Name: Delhi Daredevils
Captain: Mahela Jayawardene
Coach: Eric Simons
Owner: GMR Holdings
Cost of team: $84 Million
Key players: Virender Sehwag, David Warner, Mahela Jayawardene, Irfan Pathan, Morne Morkel. Delhi's top order is as strong one, while Morkel is a major asset with the ball with his pace, height and accuracy.
Strengths: Without a doubt, their batting. Sehwag, Warner and Jayawardene are all opening options with credible Twenty20 numbers. Crucial to Twenty20 success, these are all batsman who can hit a long ball but also nudge the ball around and keep the scoreboard ticking. Morkel, who bowled 160 dot balls out of 378 deliveries in IPL 5, can be counted on to strangle runs.
Weaknesses: The absence of Pietersen and Jesse Ryder, a flabby middle order and allergy to put faith in spin. After the top four, there is not enough fire power. Venugopal Rao flopped in 2012, Unmukt Chand has not impressed and beyond that there is little to choose from. Delhi have also been unable to lock in a winning combination; they struggled to choose their allrounders and didn't back their spinners, namely Shahbaz Nadeem, enough in 2012.
2012 Performance: Delhi came in third, having lived up to their billing in the league stage. In the play-offs, however, they combusted. Third place was a huge improvement from 2011.
2013 Prospects: Losing Pietersen and Ryder is massive, and could prove critical to where Delhi end up. The additions of Johan Botha and Jeewan Mendis as spin options may also prove helpful, but what may matter most is how Delhi rethink their strategy and team composition. If all goes well, they should make the final four.
Name: Rajasthan Royals
Captain/Coach: Rahul Dravid
Owner: Emerging Media, Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty
Cost of team: $67 Million
Key players: Ajinkya Rahane, given an extended run in 2012, was the fourth-highest run-getter with 560 at an average of 40 and strike-rate of 129.33. Brad Hogg, at 41, proved a key player with the ball and another retired cricketer, Dravid, was solid with the bat. These three, along with Australia's James Faulkner and West Indian Fidel Edwards are key to Rajasthan's success. Shane Watson, now available for the full season, will be massive.
Strengths: Rahane, for his ability to hit long, build innings and control chases. Apart fro that, not much.
Weaknesses: Bowling at the death, which prompted the franchise to bid for six pace bowlers at the auction. They got two, Faulker and Edwards, but whether that is enough to change Rajasthan's fortunes remains to be seen. The batting is too reliant on Rahane, and with Dravid having completed a full year without quality batting the team could struggle further.
2012 Performance: Rajasthan ended up at seventh place, having at one stage been in contention for the play-offs.
2013 Prospects: With Watson free for the duration of IPL 6, Rajasthan can eye a better finish this season. How Dravid handles captaincy and coaching duties while batting in the top three will also influence the team's fortunes. Rajasthan will struggle to make the final four.
Name: Pune Warriors
Captain: Angelo Mathews
Coach: Allan Donald
Owner: Sahara India Parivar
Cost of team: $370 million
Key players: Robin Uthappa, Steven Smith, Yuvraj Singh, Ross Taylor and Angelo Mathews. Pune's two IPL seasons have been marred by inconsistency and under-par performances from overseas and Indian players. Smith was the lone bright spot in 2012, playing a hand in all four of the team's wins. Uthappa is running on credit, but on his day remains the match-winner. Yuvraj's return is a boost, as is the acquisition of Taylor.
Strengths: On paper, not much. Yuvraj and Taylor are Pune's biggest assets with the bat, and Yuvraj as an allrounder their biggest strength. Purchasing Ajantha Mendis and Abhishek Nayar could prove a smart move.
Weaknesses: The batting lacks firepower, the bowling is thin. The likes of Manish Pandey, Mithun Manhas, Callum Ferguson and Mathews struggled to make an impact with the bat, and now with Michael Clarke ruled out the batting is even weaker. Only one bowler, Ashish Nehra, went past nine wickets in IPL 5. The lack of a quality spinner also jars.
2012 Performance: Pune finished bottom of the pile for the second year running. They managed just four wins in 16 games, and are owners of an IPL record of nine straight losses.
2013 Prospects: Should Yuvraj, Taylor, Smith, Uthappa and Mendis not fire collectively and consistently, and Mendis and Nayar fail to lift the team, it's hard to see Pune avoiding the wooden spoon again.