New Delhi: Defending champions Chennai Super Kings will be chasing a hat-trick of titles in the Indian Premier League (IPL) that starts Wednesday. But the other eight franchises too can spring a surprise. The following is an analysis of all the nine teams taking part in the fifth IPL: (JPN/Agencies)
Mumbai Indians: They look the most complete team and will be keen on winning their maiden IPL trophy. Sachin Tendulkar has been declared fit for the tournament and will bolster an already formidable batting line-up of Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Kieron Pollard, and latest T20 sensation Richard Levi.
Sri Lanka speedster Lasith Malinga and Australian Mitchell Johnson will be the bowlers to look out for besides the familiar Munaf Patel and Rudra Pratap Singh. Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha will lead the spin attack. Mumbai reached the finals in 2010 and came fourth in the last edition.
Delhi Daredevils: Things can only better for the side, which finished last in 2011. The Virender Sehwag-led unit is stronger with the inclusion of batting stars in Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene, Englishman Kevin Pietersen and Ross Taylor from New Zealand.
Sehwag's opening partner David Warner, who is on national duty in the Windies, will only be available at the end of the month. The bowling will be led by Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron and Irfan Pathan. The main concern for Delhi lies in the spin area.
Pune Warriors: They will be determined to make a mark after having been in the news for off-field reasons, which at one point saw them pulling out of the tournament. Australia captain Michael Clarke has been brought in as a replacement for Yuvraj Singh. Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal was signed recently. Sourav Ganguly will lead a batting line-up that has Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Jesse Ryder (New Zealand) and Angelo Matthews (Sri Lanka).
Bowling looks balanced with multiple spin and pace options. Leggie Rahul Sharma will be expected to deliver the goods again along with other experienced spinner Murali Karthik. Ashish Nehra is also in the squad but has fitness issues to deal with. Pune finished ninth in 2011.
Deccan Chargers: The 2009 champions look one of the weaker teams. Former Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara has the challenge of bringing out the best from the young-looking team. Bowling remains their strength despite the withdrawal of fast bowler Ishant Sharma due to ankle injury. South African pacer Dale Steyn will be the one to look out for.
Leg-spinner Amit Mishra will hope to carry on his good form of 2011. Australia's Daniel Christian and Cameron White are the all-round options. Chargers came sixth in 2011.
Chennai Super Kings: The most successful team in IPL starts as the favourite again. Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be spoilt for choice in both the batting and bowling departments.
Chennai have brought in all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and Australian pacer Ben Hilfenhaus. Suresh Raina, Murali Vijay and Subramaniam Badrinath form the batting chunk. Michael Hussey will be available after the Caribbean trip. Hilfenhaus joins compatriot Doug Bollinger in bowling with Ravichandran Ashwin being the leading spinner.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Last year's runners-up can hope to go the distance with the presence of the explosive West Indian batsman Chris Gayle and the in form Virat Kohli. These two should get ample support from South Africa's AB de Villiers and Sri Lankan Tillakaratne Dilshan.
Zaheer Khan and R. Vinay Kumar will be the key in the fast bowling department. Champions spinners in Daniel Vettori and Muttiah Muralitharan certainly make Royal Challengers a force to reckon with.
Kings XI Punjab: Captain and coach Adam Gilchrist will have the task of making the best use of the limited resources. The team does not boast of many big names. Australians David Hussey and Shaun Marsh are the prominent names in batting. Praveen Kumar, Ryan Harris and Piyush Chawla will have to do the job with the ball.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir and his men have enough fire-power to build on their fourth place finish in 2011. The Australian fast bowling duo of Brett Lee and James Pattinson can trouble most batsmen.
The team also boasts of top-all rounders - Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan and South Africa legend Jacques Kallis. West Indies off-spinner Sunil Narine and Iqbal Abdulla are likely to be the regular spinners. Other batsmen include Brendon McCullum, Eoin Morgan and big hitter Yusuf Pathan.
New Delhi: Defending champions Chennai Super Kings will be chasing a hat-trick of titles in the Indian Premier League (IPL) that starts Wednesday. But the other eight franchises too can spring a surprise.
The following is an analysis of all the nine teams taking part in the fifth IPL: