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What makes an IPL champion?

Since its inaugural season in 2008, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been as much about T20 cricket carnival that India chants in unison.

Over the years, the IPL creative campaigns have celebrated Indians' craze for cricket. In the process every campaign saw huge traction with the audience, which continued even when the IPL has been shifted to the United Arab Emirates due to the ongoing pandemic.

What makes an IPL champion?

Defending a title is never easy, especially when it is a big tournament like IPL. In its past 12 editions, just one team has managed to defend their title.

A perfect mix of young local talent and experienced foreigners in every squad makes picking a winner in the IPL betting a herculean task.

However, while considering previous trends, we can be congnizant of what exactly makes an IPL champion and relate those conclusion to this year's competition.

DOES SPENDING LEAD TO SUCCESS?

The IPL undoubtedly India's richest sports competition with the best players in each team earning more than $1m - and, in some cases, more than double that - each year.

The tournament, has become most lucrative of all cricket tournaments, with the annual auction almost attracting as much fanfare as the tournament itself.

As we all know, finances play a big part in determining success and failure in the IPL. But it's quite sticky that having the most expensive squad does not lead to IPL success. In fact, the team with the most expensive squad has never won the tournament.

Take for example, Rajasthan Royals with the least valuable squad have managed to lift the trophy in the inaugural tournament in 2008.

If we apply this strategy, we can immediately rule out defending champions, Mumbai Indians, who have assembled the most expensive squad in 2020.

The four-time champions, Mumbai Indian's final squad for this year's tournament cost a total of $11,262,600. While no other team has ever spent more than $11m on their playing staff.

After successfully reinventing their team last season, the Delhi Capitals, who remain the only current IPL team to have never reached a final ave built on paper an even stronger squad for this edition of the Indian Premier League after the auctions.

The squad this year cost just $9,199,000, putting them at the bottom of the spending list.

WHO SHOULD YOU SPEND ON?

The IPL has always paid players in milions. With cricket stars all over the world taking up a healthy chunk of each team's budget, deciding who to splash the cash on is crucial.

Selecting the right player can make or break a franchise's season, and there is one clear formula to choose when we look at the past seasons. It is to be noted that 11 of the 12 most expensive players from previous seasons were from India.

Deccan Chargers, who paid Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds $1.35m - $475k is the only side to win the competition with an overseas player on their biggest contract than their best-paid Indian star, bowler RP Singh.

Considering the same formula for this year tournament three more teams coe to the forefront.

The 2015 World Cup-winning Australian alumnus was roped in by KKR for a record deal of Rs 15.5 crore (AUD $3 million) at the IPL 2020 auction. The Pat Cummins IPL salary makes him the most expensive overseas signing in the history of the Indian T20 tournament.

KKR also paid West Indies international, Sunil Narine, more than their highest-paid Indian player, captain Dinesh Karthik.

The Rajasthan Royals squad includes two most expensive players, namely England star Ben Stokes ($1.8m) and former Australia captain Steve Smith ($1.7m). Their best-paid Indian player is Sanju Samson, who cost $1.1m.

Sunrisers Hyderabad David Warner, the highest scoring overseas player in the league is worth $1.7m, which is $200k more than Indian star Manish Pandey.

THE IMPORTANCE OF INTERNATIONALS

And the IPL, people talk about money and money, but it's also not only money. The tournament is about the team that manage to compile well-balanced squads with international quality that triumph. The international players bring a different flavour to the cash-rich league and add to the excitement of the spectators.

As a matter of fact, 11 of the previous 12 champions have had at least 15 players who were capped at international level. Rajasthan Royals in 2008, was the only team that won with just 13 capped players.

Probably, this parameter would apply to Kings XI Punjab, who also have just 13 internationals in their 2020 squad. It would also seem to work against the Royals (13), and the Knight Riders (9), both of whom have already fallen short in the most expensive player category.

YOUTH OR EXPERIENCE?

A good blend of local talent and experience is crucial in an IPL squad. Basically, you don't want your squad to be too old or too young.

Since its begining in 2008, no team has won the IPL with an average age of more than 30, while just one team has triumphed with an average age of less than 25 - again, the Rajasthan Royals in 2008.

When we look at the 2020 tournament with the same parameters, three-time winners Chennai Super Kings is at the receiving end.

The team led by India legend MS Dhoni, has the oldest squad in the competition, with an average age of 30 years and 11 months.

The Delhi Capitals, who are at the opposite end of the spectrum with an average age of just under 25 also fall on the same line.

WHO FITS THE PROFILE?

Considering all these parameters, what it takes to win the IPL. You never know.

Royal Challengers Bangalore, the only team to meet all of the criteria has not had the luck in their favour in the last 12 seasons as the franchise has failed to win the Indian Premier League (IPL) title so far.

The fourth-most expensive squad, led by one of the most successful India skippers, Virat Kohli has failed to lift the cup. Their roster contains a massive 18 internationals, and has an average age of 29 years and two months.

Despite the ever-presence of India great Kohli, who has played for the team in all 12 seasons of the tournament, RCB are known as IPL underachievers.

Interestingly, they reached three finals back in 2009, 2011 and 2016. But, the Bangalore franchise ended up losing on all three occasions. Moreover, the last three seasons have emerged as a disaster for RCB because they ended up on the last position in 2017 and 2019 whereas on 6th position in 2018.

However, the team has made somesmart selection for this year's competition, including Australia white-ball captain Aaron Finch, leg-spinner Adam Zampa, rising star Josh Philippe, South African duo Chris Morris and Dale Steyn, and Sri Lanka all-rounder Isuru Udana.

Add Kohli, AB de Villiers, Moeen Ali, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav and Parthiv Patel to the mix, and RCB have a squad full of serious quality.

IPL 2020 is going to be one of the most tightly contested edition in history, with all squads looking balanced on paper. Can RCB getover the disaapointment and win their first IPL crown? This could be their chance.

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