The 12th edition of the Indian Premier League is all set to begin on the 23rd of March in Chennai and it is that time of the year when Indian fans are usually divided on the basis of their cities.
IPL is the toughest and the most competitive T20 league in the world. This year's auction saw some new players throwing their hats into the ring and the franchises were also more than willing to spend a huge amount on some untested names.
Several new players have joined the teams and some old guards have switched teams and therefore the fans would be interested to know how their team would line up in the league this year.
The 2019 World cup which will begin within weeks after the completion of IPL will definitely be a factor that will affect the league this year. A number of players have already opted out of the league and there might be a number of others who will be partly rested through the course of the tournament. This article gives the strongest XI that each IPL team can have.
Rajasthan Royals will have their former captain Steve Smith back for this year's competition and he will be a huge asset for the team. Rahane will open the batting along with Jos Butler and they will be followed by Steve Smith, Sanju Samson, and Rahul Tripathi/ Mahipal Lomror. Lomror will be a better option for Rajasthan Royals considering the fact that Tripathi has struggled to bat in the middle overs.
The batsmen will be followed by the all-rounders in Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer. Krishnappa Gowtham is the lead spinner in the side and he will be accompanied by Shreyas Gopal, who performed brilliantly last year.
The Indian pace bowlers will be Dhawal Kulkarni and the Jaydev Unadkat, who was bought for a lesser price in this year's Auction
Strongest Playing XI: Ajinkya Rahane, Jos Butler, Steve Smith, Sanju Samson (WK), Mahipal Lomror, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, K Gowtham, Dhawal Kulkarni, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat
Kings XI Punjab
Predicting the playing XI of Kings XI Punjab is extremely difficult because of the presence of multiple openers in the side. Nicholas Pooran and Gayle's opening combination will be an explosive one but the team's combination might force Ashwin to look at a different opening pair.
Rahul is at his best at the top and on his day he will blow away the opposition. Gayle would open the batting at the other end. The middle order will be filled by Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Nicholas Pooran and Sarfraz Khan.
Spin will be the team's strength with three world quality spinners at their disposal. Varun Chakaravarthy would most probably walk into the XI and Ashwin in all likelihood will go with three spinners in the XI while Tye and Shami will handle the pace department.
Strongest Playing XI: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Nicholas Pooran (WK), Sarfraz Khan, Ravichandran Ashwin (C), Varun Chakaravarthy Andrew Tye, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Delhi Capitals look to be a great side on paper and its batting prowess is especially impressive. The opening combination will be that of Dhawan and Shaw and they will be followed by Iyer, Pant, Rutherford and Abhishek Sharma
Axar Patel and Chris Morris will be the team's all-rounders and both of them are capable batsmen. The spin department will be led by the experienced Amit Mishra and he will be accompanied by Sandeep Lamichhane.
Rabada will be the premier pacer for the Delhi side while they have a more than able backup in Trent Boult. Avesh Khan will most likely be the Indian pacer in the side as he bowled pretty well last year.
Strongest Playing XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer (C), Rishabh Pant (WK), Sherfane Rutherford, Abhishek Sharma, Chris Morris, Axar Patel, Amit Mishra, Avesh Khan and Kagiso Rabada.
Sunrisers Hyderabad is the most complete side in the tournament. The return of David Warner would only add to the side's strength while Dhawan's departure might be a huge blow to the side.
The team will have Warner and Bairstow as the openers. Williamson, Vijay Shankar, Manish Pandey and Deepak Hooda will form the middle order. Rashid Khan will act as the lead spinner in addition to performing the role of a finisher if required.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Siddharth Kaul will lead the attack with Khaleel Ahmed in as the third pacer in the playing XI. Shahbaz Nadeem will be the second spinner in the team.
Sunrisers have an extremely strong bowling attack, but their batting has also been strengthened this year with the arrival of Warner, Shankar and Bairstow.
Strongest Playing XI: Jonny Bairstow (WK), David Warner, Kane Williamson, Vijay Shankar, Manish Pandey, Deepak Hooda, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Siddarth Kaul, Shahbaz Nadeem.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Kolkata Knight Riders were touted as the weakest squad ahead of 2018 IPL and that was due to the lack of bench strength in the batting line-up, but the youngsters and some experienced players performed at their best to overcome this defect.
The team would open with Narine and Lynn this year as well. Robin Uthappa, Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik and Nitish Rana will form the middle order which will have to shoulder the burden of the entire team.
Andre Russell and Sunil Narine will be the team's all-rounders and both will have a major role to play this year as well. Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav will be the other spinners in the side. Lockie Ferguson will be the team's tearaway fast bowler who will lead the attack along with Prasidh Krishna.
Strongest Playing XI: Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik (C&WK), Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson and Prasidh Krishna
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Royal Challengers Bangalore have always been synonymous with explosive batting talents and this year is no different with the team expected to have batsmen till the no. 8 position. RCB will have the deepest batting order this year along with Sunrisers Hyderabad
The team will open with Parthiv Patel and Virat Kohli. The openers will be followed by the dreaded duo of Shimron Hetmyer and De Villiers. The middle order will be completed by Marcus Stoinis and Shivam Dube.
Washington Sundar will be the all-rounder in the side while Yuzvendra Chahal will be the lead spinner for Kohli. The pace department will be looked after by Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj and Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Strongest Playing XI: Parthiv Patel (WK), Virat Kohli (C), AB Devilliers, Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis, Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav, and Mohammed Siraj and Nathon Coulter-Nile.
Mumbai Indians are one of the two sides who have won the Indian Premier League thrice and they will be hoping to make a comeback after a poor last year. The team would love to have Rohit Sharma opening the innings but with De Kock coming into the team this year and Suryakumar Yadav settling nicely in the opening position, he will have to drop himself down in the batting order.
The openers would be followed by Ishan Kishan at number 3. Rohit would bat at number 4 like last year and he will be followed by Yuvraj Singh. Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya will complete the team's batting order
Mayank Markande will be the main spinner of the team while Bumrah, Malinga and Beherendorff will handle the pace department. Mumbai will probably be the only team which will have the luxury to use two foreign pace bowlers in the playing XI.
Strongest Playing XI: Quinton De Kock (WK), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Rohit Sharma (C), Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Mayank Markande, Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah and Jason Beherendorff
Chennai Super Kings
Chennai Super Kings made a phenomenal comeback to IPL last year when they went on to win the title after having returned to the IPL after a gap of two years. Last year's IPL has proved that the team bond is still intact and the fanbase has at least remained the same if it hasn't increased.
The team would open with Rayudu and Watson and they will be followed by Raina, Faf Du Plessis and MS Dhoni. Kedhar Jadhav will play as a finisher for the team along with Dhoni and Bravo.
Bravo and Jadeja are the team's all-rounders while Harbhajan will be the lead spinner for the team. Lungi Ngidi will be the team's premier fast bowler and he would be complemented by Mohit Sharma.
Strongest Playing XI: Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, Faf Du Plessis, MS Dhoni (C&WK), Kedhar Jadhav, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Lungisani Ngidi, and Mohit Sharma.