New Delhi: There was a time when the Australians were wary of playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL). In course of time, the Aussies got so fond of IPL that three out of eight franchisees are now being led by the Australians and they are – George Bailey (KXIP), Shane Watson (Royals) and David Warner (Sunrisers Hyderabad).
Every IPL team will be eager to play a member of the World Cup-winning squad in their team. Interestingly, 11 of Australia's 15 World Cup squad members are going to showcase their talent in IPL8.
The inaugural champions Rajasthan Royals are boasted with three Aussie super stars Shane Watson, Steven Smith and James Faulkner on whom the franchisee will bank on.
After being criticized for his poor form in summers, Watson impressed the selectors with his crucial knocks in World Cup while Steven Smith's five successive scores above 50, including a century against India in the semi-final, that played a crucial role in Australia winning its fifth World Cup title. James Faulkner was adjudged Man of the Match in the final against New Zealand and he would like to repeat the feat in the shortest format as well.
However in the tournament opener against Kings XI Punjab, Shane Watson had to sit out and stand-in skipper Steven Smith led the team in his absence. He captained his first ODI then the team won, he captained first test and the team won and now he captained an IPL team for the first time there also he won. James Faulkner emerged to be as the leading all-rounder after scoring a blistering 46 run knock and later took 3 wickets to take RR through.
On the contrary, Kings XI Punjab too have three World Cup winners as George Bailey (captain), Mitchell Johnson and Glenn Maxwell. But it is the captain's situation which gives Shane Watson a slight edge over Bailey as he played only one game in the World Cup which came against England in the group stage encounter, where he scored a tidy half-century (55). But his form and captaincy came under question when he promoted Akshar Patel above David Miller and himself while chasing 163 against Kings XI Punjab in their first match.
The bowling attack will be led by the spearhead Mitchell Johnson while last year's leading run scorer for Kings XI, Glenn Maxwell has already been talking with the bat. Not to forget his three consecutive 90+ scores in Dubai last year. Though he could score just 7 against RR and the team finished on a losing note but there are still 13 games left and he has enough of opportunities to come.
Mumbai Indians once had plenty of Australian players and for this edition they would rely on the swashbuckling opener Aaron Finch and pacer Josh Hazlewood. After an impressive test series followed by ODI tri-series in summers, Hazlewood was retained by the franchisee in 2015 auctions.
This 23-year-old New South Wales native caught the eye of IPL scouts thanks to his consistent performances for both his state team and the Australian national side. A right-arm pacer, young Hazlewood could have added depth to the Mumbai Indians' pace attack in IPL 2015 but he withdrew due to hectic summers.
Mumbai will be coached by former Australia and World Cup winning captain Ricky Ponting who will be starting his new innings as the coach. It will be interesting to see how the team turns up under the new coach and can they make the difference this year?
Royal Challengers Bangalore may not have many but they have one key weapon – Mitchell Starc - the Man of the Tournament in World Cup to take charge of their bowling.
Defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders showed faith on Australian speedster Pat Cummins after having played only one match last year. But after a decent outing for his national side in World Cup, expect him to be frontline bowler for Kolkata this year.
Another Aussie opener David Warner will be taking over the charge of Sunrisers Hyderabad in this IPL. After spending five seasons with the Delhi franchise, he was signed by the Sunrisers Hyderabad during the 2014 IPL player auction for Rs. 5.5 crores. They left out Aaron Finch in the year's auction but they cannot afford to lose a batsman like Warner who himself is a game-turner.
Surprisingly, Chennai Super Kings who heavily relied on the Aussie influence in the previous editions of the IPL have no World Cup winners and same is the case with desperately-trying-to-rejuvenate Delhi Daredevils side.
The Aussies will be unfazed by any national duties to intervene during the IPL and will play the full schedule of the tournament. The presence of these men who lifted the World Cup trophy just a week ago will definitely have a match-winning mentality in them.
Now as the the tournament progresses, only then we will be able to know that whether these World Champions prove as potent as they were back home winning the World Cup.