Notes after round 1

With every team having played at least one match at the end of the first week of the league in 2014, predictions can be made and trends deciphered. With the team composition, performances and formations, it is a little more possible to understand what is in store for the teams. It may still be too early, but here is my crystal ball:

Royal Challengers Bangalore:
Their weak link is now their strength: their (lack of) bowling options. With youngster Chahal and Albie Morkel and Starc at the top of their game, even without Gayle playing a game, Bangalore look like a strong outfit and have been untested so far. Their team is far from balanced, but their strengths are now stronger than any other team in the league. Captain Kohli may finally have a good outing with his T20 team.
Prediction: Finals

Kolkata Knight Riders:
Despite their loss to Delhi, this is a team to look out for. Severely underrated and with an out-of-form captain, it is the out-of-contention Indian players that are pulling them through. Pandey and Uthappa have combined well with Narine to convince naysayers that theirs is a balanced side. If Kallis comes good more often than not, despite their upper order batting troubles, they possess the maximum bowling firepower to wear down teams into submission.
Prediction: Last 4

Kings XI Punjab:
Too early to tell, but their bowling options were picked with the Mohali pitch in mind. Dubai seems to have blown the wind out of their pace sails, with Johnson rendered ineffective. No spinner in the ranks will hurt them further, despite Maxwell and Sehwag at the top. They will not be able to replicate their stunning 200+ chase against Chennai all the time, and will have to depend a lot on Maxwell to pull them through.

Sunrisers Hyderabad:
Along with KKR, they have the best bowling line-up in the league. Finch and Warner must open together because of their understanding and experience, and Dhawan will have to come at 3. Steyn, Mishra, Karn Sharma and Ishant form a terrific quartet with great variety. This team will be one of my favourites once the Australians fire at the top. But then they started as favourites in the first season too, and finished last.
Prediction: Last 4

Mumbai Indians:
A bold prediction—Ambani’s stars will finish at the bottom. Fatal mistakes of letting Maxwell and Dwayne Smith go, as well as Johnson, leaves them with a non-existent top order and no bowlers except Malinga. The old boys club of Harbhajan, Ojha and Zaheer won’t be effective.

Delhi Daredevils:
They look promising but they need KP back as soon as possible. A terrific hand by Duminy again — who has established himself as a great finisher — has kept them afloat after a win against KKR. They look good to rise from the bottom to the top 4. A bigger role must be handed to Rahul Sharma though.

Chennai SuperKings:
Their batting looks set with the firepower of McCullum, Smith and Raina at the top, but their bowling was exposed brutally against Maxwell and Co. Still, they remain perennial favourites to reach the final, and always take a while to come into their own.
Prediction: Last 4

Rajasthan Royals:
Once again, they are the underdogs. Watson needs to hand himself a bigger role, and maybe open the innings with Rahane for better starts. Binny looks to be in good form, and the invaluable experience of Rajat Bhatia (sold by KKR) will make them overachievers again. I wouldn’t bet against them.
Prediction: Mid-table

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