An intense few weeks of razzamatazz and T20 cricket are upon us. Of course that means it is the start of the Indian Premier League season. It is the tenth addition of the glitzy tournament in the sub-continent, with even more sides signing ever more lucrative deals.
Ben Stokes signed a record-breaking contract with the Rising Pune Supergiants which will garner much attention in the UK. Stokes is a complete T20 player and will provide the Supergiants with power in the mid to late overs accompanied by some late Yorkers. Captained by in-form Steven Smith with MS Dhoni, Ravichandran Ashwin, Imran Tahir and Faf du Plessis all expected to feature, the Supergiants are understandably second favourites for the tournament at 5/1. Their seam bowling attack is a weakness, but the spin of Ashwin and Tahir along with a fearsome batting line-up makes them my clear pre-tournament pick.
Although way out at 9/1 to win the tournament, Delhi Daredevils are going to be exciting. Mohamed Shami will lead a bowling attack also featuring Amit Mishra, Pat Cummins and Kagiso Rabada, while Quinton de Kock, Carlos Brathwaite, Corey Anderson, Angelo Mathews and Chris Morris offer the six-crushing power. Potential dark horses, but consistency could be an issue for the Daredevils.
At times it’s hard not to look on in awe at the IPL batting line-ups. Kings XI Punjab are no exception. Eoin Morgan, Glenn Maxwell – who will captain the side – Hashim Amla and Martin Guptill are the standouts in a star-studded squad. The spin bowling, however, is very weak which justifies their lengthy odds of 9/1.
Although every team looks ferocious on paper, it’s understandable that Royal Challengers Bangalore are favourites for the tournament at 17/5. Led by Virat Kohli with Chris Gayle, Shane Watson and AB De Villiers, no side can come close to that sort of firepower with the bat. Adam Milne and big money signing Tymal Mills should enable Kohli to keep the final few overs as quiet as possible, too.
In the decade of Indian Premier League cricket we have been treated to so far there have been stunning matches and many remarkable moments, we should be prepared for a fair few more this time around. Balance might be the key in longer forms of the sport, but T20 tournaments can be won through flair and magical individual displays. So many squads possess that star quality and, ultimately, any of them could hit a run of form and win the tournament.
Before a ball is bowled, though:
My tip: Rising Pune Supergiants to make the final at 2/1
Dark Horse: Delhi Daredevils at 9/1