Chargers bank on batting, fresh faces
Deccan Chargers have been one of the least controversial teams in the IPL. Unlike other franchises, they have been relatively free of court cases, litigations, suspensions, disputes, off-field dramas. They've had their share of success, winning the 2009 IPL after a shoddy opening season. They reached the semi-finals in 2010 with the same set-up.
However, they fell apart again last year when the teams were reshuffled. They finished seventh, failing to qualify for the knockouts. The side lacked the dynamism of Adam Gilchrist, who scripted the remarkable turnaround in 2009. With him went other star performers in Andrew Symonds, Rohit Sharma, Herschelle Gibbs and RP Singh. The new-look squad was captained by Kumar Sangakkara, and assisted by the Australian Cameron White, who had a poor season. Deccan ended the first-half of their campaign last year with three wins and four losses. They ended the tournament with three consecutive wins but it wasn't enough to progress. Still, six wins and eight defeats highlighted an ordinary season for the former champions.
They begin this edition as one of the weaker teams, on balance. Much would depend on the foreign players and Sangakkara will have to lead the way. There were no million-dollar buys in the auction, with their costliest signing being Parthiv Patel for US$650,000. They did, however, stretch Chennai Super Kings in the bid for Ravindra Jadeja. Deccan were edged out in the secret tie-breaker (locked at $2million). Their coach, Darren Lehmann, says batting will be their strength this year. He says that that the number of fresh faces in the squad could work to their advantage because the opposition wouldn't know what to expect. Looking back at 2011, he wants the team to start well this time.
Cameron White: The former Australia Twenty20 captain didn't have a memorable campaign last year, scoring only 104 runs in six innings. He didn't have a great time in the Big Bash League either, with just 55 runs from eight games. He needs to turn it around to justify his purchase.
Amit Mishra: The absence of Pragyan Ojha hands the lead-spinner role to Mishra. He was the leading wicket-taker for Deccan last season, with 19. Dropped from the Indian team, this IPL could be the platform to stage a comeback.
Big names in
Darren Bravo: The stylish West Indies batsman was one of the franchise's key overseas signings, for $100,000. His form during West Indies' visit to India stood out, as much as his similarity to Brian Lara. However, he hasn't been in the best of form with West Indies of late.
Big names out
Ishant Sharma: The fast bowler will be sitting out of the IPL to recover from an ankle surgery. He put off the surgery for almost a year, but decided to go ahead with it after the Australia Tests. His franchise will miss him, but it could be beneficial for him in the long run, given India's commitments later in the year.
Pragyan Ojha: The left-arm spinner was one of the Chargers' leading bowlers, with 62 wickets in four seasons. However, he transferred to Mumbai Indians earlier this year. He also had a good Test series against West Indies at home last year.
Below the radar
Ishank Jaggi: The Jharkhand right-hand batsman got just two games last season and didn't impress. However, he has the reputation of making big scores and can go for the big hits.
Ashish Reddy: The Hyderabad seamer was identified by Lehmann as one of the promising young players to watch. Reddy was the leading wicket-taker for Hyderabad in the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy, with 11 wickets.
Bravo could be out of action till the end of April, if picked for the Tests against Australia.
Sangakkara will be available for all games except the opening match, due to his Test commitments against England. The South Africans and Australians in the squad don't have any national commitments.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo