The 2019 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) gets underway tomorrow, promising exciting cricket, heart-stopping finishes and a galaxy of stars showcasing their talent on Indian soil.
The IPL received a shot in the arm last season with most of the matches providing close finishes and keeping the spectators’ interest alive. That will ensure that the new season will get off to a good start. The IPL always battles monotony and there were times a few seasons ago when interest began to dip.
But, all seems well now and another great season is in store for fans of the game.
The focus once again will be on last year’s winners Chennai Super Kings, who are ably led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Though the team comprises many elderly gents, around 35 years or more, CSK are always a force to reckon with.
Clever captaincy and the ability to gel together as a team has been their strength in the IPL all along. They have great finishers and Dwayne Bravo, a bit off colour in the last IPL, is still among the best death bowlers in T20.
Their challengers last season, Sunrisers Hyderabad still have David Warner and Kane Williamson who are terrific batsmen in the shorter version. With Warner coming off a one-year ban, there will be a lot interest around whether he still retains his hitting powers.
The trump card once again will be Rashid Khan who had a magnificent IPL last time. The leg spinner has also added a bit of hitting ability lower down the order to supplement his bowling.
The Mumbai Indians have always had the knack of springing surprises and one can never judge where they will end up despite their poor starts. The team must also look into finishing off matches when they have the chance.
Rohit Sharma will open the innings this time and that will be the biggest advantage for MI. With Jasprit Bumrah also in the side, Mumbai Indians can pull it off if all goes well.
Kolkata Knight Riders have always been a team to reckon with in the IPL. Led by Dinesh Karthik, the team has overseas players like Chris Lynn, Carlos Braithwaite and champion bowler Sunil Naraine in their ranks. Andre Russell is a game changer on his day and if they combine well, then they pose a serious challenge.
Royal Challengers Bangalore always seem to disappoint at the last hurdle. They also possessed one of the best teams in the IPl but never did justice to their strength.
Much will depend on whether Virat Kohli carries his recent form in international cricket on to the IPL.
All eyes will also be on A B de Villiers as he has quit international cricket totally and whether his appetite for the game still remains. Shimron Hetmeyer from the West Indies is an exciting addition to the team.
Kings XI Punjab, Delhi Capitals and Rajasthan Royals will have to step up their game a bit more to make the last four. Punjab will be hoping that Chris Gayle, in prime form for the West Indies against England recently, will make merry on the bowling again.
A feast of sixes and yorkers await the fans of the game along with the glamour and glitz associated with the IPL. Whether it is a success or not will be revealed on May 12 when the final is played in Chennai.
#All views expressed in this column are the authors and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to the same.
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