Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
Where they finished in 2019: One match short of the final. Tied at top of the table with two other teams, but third on net run rate, they won the Eliminator but stumbled in Qualifier 2.
Potential XI: 1 Prithvi Shaw, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Marcus Stoinis/Alex Carey, 4 Shreyas Iyer (capt.), 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Shimron Hetmyer, 7 Axar Patel/ Amit Mishra, 8 Keemo Paul/ Daniel Sams, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Kagiso Rabada, 11 Ishant Sharma/ Harshal Patel
Batting: They have arguably the most promising collection of Indian batsmen but they have an issue after No. 5. Prithvi Shaw and Rishabh Pant are absolute aces. Shikhar Dhawan and Shreyas Iyer are not as devastating but can be expected to play longer innings. Shimron Hetmyer makes it an enviable top five.
The problem is the absence of a big hitter to follow at No. 6 or 7, especially one who is good on slower tracks as will be expected in the UAE. Towards the end of the last IPL, they settled on Axar Patel and Sherfane Rutherford, but neither of them seem a reliable option when you start planning for a new season. The reinforcements are not that promising either: Marcus Stoinis' best days have come at the top, Alex Carey is not in good T20 form. And neither of their stats suggests great threat against slow bowling in the middle and late overs.
One solution could be to bat Stoinis in the top three and ask others to move one position down, but remain fluid with the order if the openers have a long partnership. It might be tempting to go with a floating Stoinis as he provides bowling depth for whatever it might be worth.
Bowling: Should the pitches be slightly slow, as the expectation is, they have got good into-the-wicket quicks: Kagiso Rabada, Keemo Paul, Harshal Patel and Ishant Sharma. A jack in the box is Daniel Sams, fresh from a 30-wicket BBL and armed with a point of difference by the virtue of being a left-arm quick.
In R Ashwin they have a spinner who takes the ball away from left-hand batsmen; Amit Mishra, Axar Patel and Sandeep Lamichhane take it away from the right-hand batsmen. Ashwin brings experience, Mishra a low strike rate, Patel extra batting, so there is competition for these slots and readiness to play more than two spinners should conditions dictate so.
Young players to watch out for It is staggering but Shaw and Pant are still young at 20 and 22. Both have had chequered starts to their international careers for different reasons, but the IPL with Delhi Capitals is in their comfort zone. They have carried Capitals' batting with such aplomb that the team will be looking at them again to be the engine room.
Coaching staff: Ricky Ponting (coach), Mohammad Kaif (assistant coach), Ryan Harris (bowling coach), Samuel Badree (spin bowling coach)