One key factor to their success is how Dravid has batted - he has shown that he's no crab, he can pull out the big shots like anyone else, and when he hits that ball, he hits it hard. Kumble has lost none of his guile in retirement and was among the top wicket-takers last season. Jacques Kallis has been great too, consistently scoring and taking wickets, while Ross Taylor was able to pepper his favored legside area with several sixes. The young batsmen, Kohli and Pandey held their own, with the latter becoming the first Indian to score a century in the IPL. Uthappa, the other player BRC snagged from Mumbai (besides Pandey) got a couple of decent innings in, but is still skilled in throwing his wicket away. The bowling is strong too, Dale Steyn leading the pace attack with other consistent bowlers like Praveen Kumar and R Vinay Kumar, and Abhimanyu Mithun has made a decent name for himself since last year. Dillon du Preez is a very good bowler to have as cover. Van der Merwe, if he plays, can stop the flow of runs alongside Kumble, and he can employ the long handle too.
Jesse Ryder had a disastrous tournament, struggling to get off the mark for the most part. He hasn't recovered from his injury yet and has been replaced by Steven Smith, a very useful bowler who is very capable with the bat. Eoin Morgan is a stellar buy, and they didn't even pay that much for him. He's a perfect lower order game-changer.
The squad is -
Anil Kumble (capt), Jacques Kallis, Shrivats Goswami, Bhuvanesh Kumar, Eoin Morgan, Abhimanyu Mithun, Virat Kohli, Robin Uthappa, Dale Steyn, Cameron White, Kevin Pietersen, Rahul Dravid, S Sriram, Manish Pandey, R Vinay Kumar, KP Appanna, B Akhil, Steven Smith, Praveen Kumar, Mark Boucher, Dillon du Preez, Ross Taylor, Roelof van der Merwe.
The Indian players are easy to pick, but the overseas players are numerous and tough decisions will have to be made. This is what I think should be the XI -
Robin Uthappa (wk)
Anil Kumble (c)
R Vinay Kumar
Tough call there on Boucher not playing, but I felt Morgan needed to be included and Uthappa is an adequate keeper. It's what makes him more useful. It was easy to drop Pieterson, he's having a terrible run, and I'm not sure if Mithun has done enough to replace successful bowlers like Praveen Kumar and Vinay Kumar. Considering the battering Steyn got from Sehwag recently, I think on a flat or turning track Steyn could make way for van der Merwe or Steven Smith.
My Official-sounding prediction for BRC this year: Semi-finalists. They fared exceptionally last year, and racked up good scores in the T20 CL too, and the side looks even better than it did before due to the enhancement of some players' reputations.
Next up, the final preview, that of the Mumbai Indians. Woo. Until then, catch the annoyingly catchy BRC tune.