The IPL is a heady mix of glamour, sports and entertainment. Its biggest attraction as far as local crowds are concerned is the foreign contingent that will take the field along with the Indian players. While the biggest cheers are always reserved for the Indian star, foreign contingents are important in determining, firstly the success of a team and secondly, the fan following a team has.
Take for example, AB de Villiers of the Royal Challengers Bangalore or Chris Gayle who are cult figures in the IPL. Here we take a look at the top 5 IPL teams with impressive foreign contingents, injury and non-availability notwithstanding. Only four foreign players are allowed in the final playing XI but the best teams always have ‘horses for courses’.
#5 Royal Challengers Bangalore
RCB do not have many foreign riches. But the ones they have are the best in the business. AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle can win matches single-handedly and so can Shane Watson. They have New Zealand’s tearaway fast bowler Adam Milne, who may get a few matches, but surprise package Tymal Mills from England is the one who will grab the eyeballs.
Samuel Badree is another spinner who could give them options on low-slow wickets. Travis Head completes the list and that is not a bad list at all.
RCB have never won any silverware; coming extremely close last year but then losing their way in what looked like a cruise in the park. They will certainly hope to go the distance this year.
#4 Sunrisers Hyderabad
Last year’s champions, the Sunrisers will be led by David Warner, who one expects will shed his indifferent form in the Tests and rediscover his mojo from IPL 2016. They have the death-overs’ specialists Mustafizur Rahman and Chris Jordan. That will ensure teams will rarely get big scores against the Sunrisers. They also have all-rounder Moises Henriques and Afghanistan’s spin sensation Rashid Khan in their ranks.
Kane Williamson, if he gets to play will add a lot of value to the top-order. Ben Cutting, the Player of the Match in the IPL 2016 Final, along with Ben Laughlin and Mohammad Nabi give Warner enough options to last the entire IPL.
#3 Rising Pune Supergiants
Indian fans will not have a lot to like about Pune’s team this year, considering the franchise replaced the crowd favourite MS Dhoni with Australia’s skipper Steven Smith as the captain. That wouldn’t have gone down well with many. Add to that the acrimony of the Border – Gavaskar series and Smith has a real challenge up his sleeve. However, that will help Smith is the availability of some really good foreign players at his disposal.
The Australian skipper’s scintillating form in the Test series which saw him score 499 runs aside, Smith also has the services of South Africa’s Test skipper Faf du Plessis, all-rounder Daniel Christian, his own teammates Usman Khawaja and Adam Zampa and the IPL’s most expensive foreign player, Ben Stokes from England, who will contribute with both bat and ball. Pune will look to shake off a bad performance last year.
#2 Mumbai Indians
The Mumbai Indians almost always had the right mix of players and it comes as no wonder that they are the most successful team in the IPL in the absence of Chennai Super Kings. Apart from their veterans Kieron Pollard and Lasith Malinga, MI also have Jos Buttler, who is probably among the five most destructive players in the world, coming down the order.
There is, of course, Lendl Simmons, West Indies’ hero in the T20 World Cup Semi-final against India. Throw in the super-impressive Mitchell McClenaghan, New Zealand’s new-ball bowler and Tim Southee, his teammate along with Australia’s Mitchell Johnson, who was in great shape in the Big Bash and MI have a well-rounded foreign contingent.
#1 Delhi Daredevils
The Daredevils have an impressive Indian squad. But, at Zaheer Khan’s disposal are also foreign players of great class – batsmen, bowlers and all-rounders. Delhi received a massive jot in the form of Quinton de Kock, who will miss out because of injury. Along with him is the middle-order stalwart JP Duminy who has cited personal reasons to not play this year. But Daredevils are still strong enough to contend for the title.
Chris Morris is a fine new-ball bowler. Carlos Brathwaite is a floater, having already made a name winning the ICC T20 Performance of the Year for his pyrotechnics in the T20 World Cup Final against England. Throw in the England opener Sam Billings, South African pacer Kagiso Rabada, New Zealand’s big-hitting all-rounder Corey Anderson and Australia’s tearaway fast bowler, Pat Cummins and Daredevils are in great shape. And then there is Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews too.