Mumbai Indians lifted the trophy for a fourth time last season — more than any other franchise has managed. Their wins have come in neat arithmetic progression – in 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019. They beat Chennai Super Kings, who have won the trophy thrice, in the final. Here is a look at how last year's finalists are placed at this point.
Given their unusual trend of winning the IPL, this is not supposed to Mumbai's year – but then, who knows? They are too strong an outfit to be left out of contention.
Mumbai made only eight purchases at this season's auctions – but that included Chris Lynn, who has been so prolific for the Kolkata Knight Riders over the years as well as one of the leading batsmen in the BBL. Lynn, along with Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav, Quinton de Kock, Kieron Pollard, and Ishan Kishan, form an exceptional batting line-up.
While the bowling will depend on Trent Boult, their newest acquisition, Rahul Chahar, and Nathan Coulter-Nile, the onus will be on Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga to dart those yorkers in the Powerplay overs and at the death.
Towering over them all will be the Pandya brothers, Krunal and Hardik, to provide much-needed impetus and balance to the side.
Hardik Pandya: Injuries have kept him out of the national side for a long time, but this long hiatus has done Hardik more good than harm. He will be raring to have a go in the tournament that has made him the cricketer he is.
Jasprit Bumrah: Arguably the most skilled and difficult fast bowler in contemporary cricket, Bumrah will be a menace both early in the innings and at the death, more so in the company of his mentor, Lasith Malinga.
Kieron Pollard: Pollard has done an excellent job once he was instated as West Indies' limited-overs captain in 2019. He has also raised the bar with both bat and ball, something Mumbai will greatly benefit from.
Probably a place in the final.
Chennai Super Kings
Chennai's 2019 success had a lot to depend on their slow bowlers – both spinners and seamers – on a slow, sluggish Chepauk surface. This time they boast of an army of spinners, in Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir, Ravindra Jadeja, Mitchell Santner, Karn Sharma, Piyush Chawla, and Sai Kishore.
They will be supported by the seamers – Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Josh Hazlewood, and Sam Curran, while the batting will depend on MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, and Shane Watson.
MS Dhoni: His days in international cricket may be limited – or even in the past – but the Chennai franchise has always been synonymous to "Thala". His steely resolve under pressure and ability to marshal his troops make Dhoni the leader that he is for Chennai over the years.
Imran Tahir: The Purple Cap winner in 2019, Tahir stood out even in a strong spin attack, exploiting the favourable Chennai conditions to his benefits. Even at 41 his wicket-taking abilities does not seem to wane.
Harbhajan Singh: Harbhajan brought all his experience to the fore, helping change the course of multiple matches, winning the Player of the Match on more than one occasion. He is also a prolific hitter.
Probably a place in the final.