Revamped Deccan look for consistency
They were touted as the powerhouse team in the first IPL season, but finished at the bottom. Their reaction? They changed the coach, CEO and captain. They won the cup following year. In the last IPL, they lost in the semi-finals. Their reaction? They released all their players into the auction pool and have gone for a completely revamped side. Only the coach, Darren Lehmann, remains. Lehmann is shrewd, Kumar Sangakkara, the new captain, is ambitious, and the franchise will hope for better consistency.
In Dale Steyn, Pragyan Ojha and Amit Mishra, backed up by Ishant Sharma, they have a pretty decent bowling line-up. It remains to be seen how Ishant holds up, but Ojha and Mishra have proved to be very effective spinners in previous IPLs.
It's their batting that looks slightly undercooked. They will miss the services of Andrew Symonds and Rohit Sharma but have a pretty decent top order - Michael Lumb, an opener who had a strike rate of 144 in the last edition, JP Duminy and Sangakkara. In Shikhar Dhawan, they have a talented opener who can combine well with Lumb. The most fascinating new pick was Daniel Christian , who was bought for a whopping $900,000 - his progress will be keenly monitored by everyone.
Kumar Sangakkara didn't win the World Cup and resigned as Sri Lanka captain but he is one of the best current-day captains out there. He didn't have a great time leading Punjab last year and would be happy to make a fresh start with Deccan. Everyone knows what he is capable of with the bat and having the additional responsibility of wicketkeeper, he will be the soul of this team, much like Adam Gilchrist was in the last two years.
Pragyan Ojha was one of the key factors in Deccan Chargers' turn around in 2009. He doesn't have a stand-out delivery, let alone a mystery ball, yet he has tasted success with his patient usage of the stock delivery. It lands on a length and turns a little, occasionally it drifts in with the arm and he mixes up the pace well. It was in the IPL that he matured as a bowler and his progress will be the key for Deccan once again.
Big name in
One is a captain and the other a fiery bowler. Sangakkara is the biggest name they have drafted in and Dale Steyn is a bowler who the opposition will respect, and fear. Steyn, a wonderful Test bowler and a good ODI bowler, has proved expensive in Twenty20 though he has continued to take wickets. The pitches and the field settings, plus the onus on him to relentlessly search for wickets, has at times resulted in him being expensive in this format. Though he doesn't have a point to prove, it will be interesting to see if he makes any changes in his bowling to cut down the economy rate.
Big name out
Adam Gilchrist is out, and so are Andrew Symonds and Rohit Sharma. Gilchrist was the inspirational leader and Symonds and Sharma were the main middle-order batsmen who also bowled a few handy overs. Symonds set up several games and Sharma proved to be a killer finisher. The team will miss them.
Below the radar
Amit Mishra was yet another spinner who did well previously in the IPL. Initially, it was feared that the spinners will wilt in this format on flat Indian tracks but Mishra, like many other tweakers, sparkled. He spins his legbreak, has dared to flight it, has shown the mindset to soak up the pressure of being hit and reaped the rewards. With the emergence of R Ashwin on the national radar, Mishra has much to prove this season.
Last three seasons
They have consistently played against expectations. They disappointed in the first season when they were expected to do really well. They won in the second when not much was expected. They looked down and out in the third, when they needed to win five games in a row to make it to semis, but got there.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo