The IPL is one of the most unpredictable cricket tournaments, with the shorter format of the game springing a lot of surprises, and the nature of the game meaning ‘anything can happen.’
Even though it is hard to pick out the best and worse teams in the lucrative league, the following teams could probably be deemed as outsiders to lift the trophy.
Deccan Chargers: Led by Kumar Sangakkara, who is assured with his bat and behind the stumps, the Chargers look like they might suffer from a lack of firepower when it comes to their batting line-up.
Cameron White can be a big hitter in the middle order but apart from him and Darren Bravo, they might lack in experience when it comes to taking control of an innings and dominating a bowling attack.
Their bowling attack has been rattled by the injury to Ishant Sharma but it still looks strong with South African Dale Steyn and Praghyan Ojha.
X-Factor: Darren Bravo and his Lara-esque batting could do wonders for the Chargers. His form against India during the Windies’ visit was there for everyone to see.
Pune Warriors: The most expensive franchise in the IPL failed to impress last year out, but this time, under the leadership of Sourav Ganguly, coupled with the signing of Michael Clarke, Pune-ites can expect something more from their team.
Their batting looks assured with Michael Clarke (who comes in May), Graeme Smith (who has an ankle injury), Robin Uthappa and of course- Jesse Ryder.
In fact, if Clarke and Marlon Samuels would have been available from the off, they wouldn’t have been on this list. But the lack in quality bowlers will be a bit off a problem.
X-Factor: One could argue it will be Ganguly’s leadership but otherwise, an injection of quality in May could give them an advantage over the rest of the fatigued league in the middle of the season. The player to watch though, will be Bangladesh’s Tamim Iqbal.
Rajasthan Royals: Shaun Tait and Shane Watson are a good bet for wickets, but when it comes to scoring quick runs, the Royals do not seem to match up to other teams.
Rahul Dravid can be an inspiration, but that maybe where his role ends in this format of the game. The batsman is an absolute great, but not a lot can be expected in terms of runs in this format.
Johan Botha and Ajinkya Rahane must stand up to their responsibilities and get some runs on the board if the Royals are to give their bowlers a chance.
X-Factor: It has to be the impressive Shaun Tait. If he strikes early, then he can take important wickets and also chip in at the death.
Kolkata Knight Riders: On paper, they look a star-studded team with world class players, but they are on this list solely for their inability to win in important matches and make it big in the past four seasons.
Batting-wise, they look a destructive force- with Brendon McCullum and two of the world’s top all rounders in Jacques Kallis and Shakib Al Hasan. Not to mention the feared Yusuf Pathan.
James Pattinson and Brett Lee will be their spearheads but they need to get rid of the complacency and make sure they are not considered outsiders after this season.
X-Factor: They have big-hitters sprinkled all over the team-sheet. And of course, there’s Shah Rukh Khan and his entourage from Bollywood in the stands!