IPL 2019: Your Expert Tournament Preview

Our Cricket Analysts have given their expert preview of the IPL 2019 tournament. Get the expert analysis on every team plus the best betting strategy for the competition.

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Sunrisers Hyderabad

2016 champions Sunrisers Hyderabad are favourites to collect their second title after topping the table last year and going down in the final to Chennai. The Orange Army are boosted by the return of former captain David Warner from suspension, while they can also call on fellow top-order international stars Jonny Bairstow, Martin Guptill and current skipper Kane Williamson.

Their local contingent is headed by middle-order trio Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan and Vijay Shankar, while wily seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar will spearhead a bowling attack also featuring Sandeep Sharma and Khaleel Ahmed. However their star power in the field comes in the slow-bowling department with Afghan leg-spinner Rashid Khan back for another campaign alongside countryman Mohammad Nabi and Bangladeshi ace Shakib Al Hasan.

The Sunrisers once again look a well-balanced side who should no doubt feature in the latter part of the tournament, however the likely loss of Warner and Bairstow part way through the competition to World Cup preparations makes them difficult to back at such a short price.

Mumbai Indians

After narrowing missing the play-offs in 2018, punters are expecting the Mumbai Indians to bounce back strongly and feature in title calculations. The three-time champions didn’t feature heavily in this year’s auction, however that doesn’t mean that changes aren’t set to occur with captain Rohit Sharma announcing he’ll return to the top of the order.

Powerful imports Evan Lewis and Quentin de Kock will battle it out to partner Rohit, with Suryakumar Yadav set to shift down to the middle-order despite an impressive performance in last year’s tournament. The Indians aren’t short on quality all-rounders with Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya all set to feature, though veteran Yuvraj Singh might find it tough to force his way into the starting XI.

The pace attack will be led by the impressive Jasprit Bumrah, while Mumbai have brought back Lasith Malinga to compliment fellow overseas quicks Mitchell McClenaghan, Jason Behrendorff and Adam Milne. One area where the Indians seem light in the spin-bowling department with leggie Mayank Markrande the only other frontline option other than Krunal and having tinkered, arguably unnecessarily, with their batting order I think Mumbai are ripe to take on in this year’s tournament.

Chennai Superkings

The defending champions have retained the core of their squad which lifted the trophy last season, headed by their legendary leader MS Dhoni and prolific run-scorer Suresh Raina. There are plenty of Indian internationals in their squad with Dhoni and Raina joined by Murali Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja and Shardul Thakur.

Amongst the international contingent, Australian veteran Shane Watson will be hoping for another stellar season, while fellow all-rounders Dwayne Bravo, David Willey and Mitchell Santner will all vie for spots in the side with South African pair Imran Tahir and Lungi Ngidi. CSK are certainly not light on experience with former international spinners Harbhajan Singh and Karn Sharma adding to their depth, while they have also called on paceman Mohit Sharma who previously played for the Super Kings from 2013-2015.

However one of Chennai’s strengths could also be their weakness with what is no doubt an ageing squad, which may struggle to replicate their deeds of last season over a long gruelling tournament. So whilst I couldn’t oppose the quality in this CSK squad, I can’t justify backing them at their current price either.

Kolkata Knight Riders

At one stage it looked certain that KKR would contest the 2018 final, however ultimately they were outgunned by Sunrisers in the second qualifier. In an effort to improve on that finish they have bolstered their foreign delegation, picking up English top-order batsman Joe Denly, West Indian all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite, Kiwi speedster Lockie Ferguson and cagey left-arm quick Harry Gurney.

The Knight Riders were already arguably over-reliant on their current crop of overseas stars including Chris Lynn, Andre Russell and last year’s player of the tournament Sunil Narine, so their recruitment strategy gives them more depth in this area. Outside of Denly and Lynn, the batting will lean heavily on local stars Dinesh Karthik, Shubman Gill and Robin Uthappa who will be looking to make up for a poor showing last season.

The attack is spin heavy with Narine joined by Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav with Nitish Rana also capable of bowling some handy overs. The one gaping hole in KKR’s squad is the pace department, however it looks no weaker than last year so if Ferguson and possibly Brathwaite can come up with the goods then Kolkata might just find themselves right in the mix.

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Perennially unbalanced, Royal Challengers Bangalore made the surprising decision not to invest in any bowling options at the auction, instead focussing their attention on destructive West Indian batsman Shimron Hetmyer as well as South African ‘keeper-batsman Heinrich Klaasen and a series of unheralded local all-rounders such as Shivam Dube and Gurkeerat Singh. Umesh Yadav did a serviceable job leading the attack last season, but will need to get more support from Indian teammate Mohammad Siraj as well as overseas quicks Tim Southee and Nathan Coulter-Nile.

Their spin department looks more promising with Yuzvendra Chahal at the forefront alongside all-rounders Washington Sundar, Pawan Negi and Moeen Ali. Of course RCB’s batting remains amongst the most feared in the competition, led by the indomitable Virat Kohli and mercurial AB de Villiers, whilst also featuring powerful hitters Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis and Colin de Grandhomme.

The market is a little less keen on them this year however a failure to reinforce that bowling attack means that we still wish to maintain a wide berth and instead look for opportunities for them to either chase down or fail to defend a large total at their batsman-friendly home ground the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Delhi Capitals

Delhi will be hoping that a change in name will bring a change in fortunes, having failed to make the playoffs for the past six seasons, never finishing any higher than sixth during that time. As the Daredevils they finished bottom in 2018 and as a result have made sweeping changes, releasing overseas stars Jason Roy, Glenn Maxwell, Dan Christian and Liam Plunkett as well as promising all-rounder Vijay Shankar.

In their place come explosive opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan, South African left-hander Colin Ingram, veteran seamer Ishant Sharma and accomplished all-rounders Keemo Paul, Hanuma Vihari and Axar Patel. Captain Shreyas Iyer headlines the batting with starlets Rishabh Pant and Privthi Shaw, while they also have plenty of quality in the fast-bowling area with Trent Boult and Kagiso Rabada at the helm.

Nepalese leg-spinner Sandeep Lamicchane will be hoping to continue his excellent form of late, with fellow leggie Amit Mishra in support. I’m expecting some improvement from the Capitals, not so much due to the new players but from those already in the squad, however I’m sceptical as to whether they can make enough of a leap to feature in the top four.

Rajasthan Royals

Semi-finalists last season, the Royals have struggled to find friends in the market despite some impressive additions to their squad. With their pace bowling an issue last year, the Royals pulled out all the stops to retain Jaydev Unadkat, whilst also bringing in Varun Aaron and West Indian Oshane Thomas to compliment Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes.

The capture of promising internationals Liam Livingstone and Ashton Turner could prove to be the bargain buys of the year, while Manan Vohra will add experience and depth to the batting unit. That batting line-up will also benefit from the return of Steve Smith with Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler and Stokes all capable of changing the course of a match in a few overs.

One possible concern is that New Zealander Ish Sodhi looms as the only proven frontline spin option, however the Royals were able to rely on both Shreyas Gopal and Krishnappa Gowtham last year. They may be unfancied but there’s plenty to like about Rajasthan and they seem more than capable of replicating their deeds of 2018 at the very least, which is why I find the relatively long odds about them quite attractive.

Kings XI Punjab

Right at the bottom of the market we have the Kings XI Punjab who have totally revamped their squad after failing to reach the playoffs for the fourth straight year. After playing relatively insignificant roles last season, former Indian internationals Manoj Tiwary, Yuvraj Singh, Axar Patel and Mohit Sharma will all dispensed with, as was Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis.

Exciting West Indian ‘keeper-batsman Nicholas Pooran will add some punch to the middle-order with Aussie veteran Moises Henriques more regarded for his stability. However it was the pace attack which got the biggest overhaul with Tom Curran, Mohammad Shami and Hardus Vilojen all adding plenty of quality. Leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin joins his fourth IPL side, while 21-year-old batsman Sarfaraz Khan has plenty of promise despite failing to fire in previous seasons for Bangalore.

Of those who remain top-order pair Lokesh Rahul and Chris Gayle will have a big say on how far Punjab progress, while spinners Ravi Ashwin and Mujeeb Ur Rahman may hold the key to the Kings’ success in the field. That’s not to discount Aussie seamer Andrew Tye who finished as the tournament’s top wicket-taker last season, although he has struggled since and whilst the wooden spoon favourites appear more balanced this year, it’s hard to get too excited about their chances.

Betting Strategy

 LAY – Mumbai Indians at 6.60 or better for 2 units.

 BACK – Kolkata Knight Riders at 6.80 or better for 2 units.

 BACK – Rajasthan Royals at 10.00 or better for 1 unit.

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