The Indian Premier League is returning to India to play its 15th game and is ready to play in front of a partial spectator at four venues in Maharashtra’s biobubble. Much has changed in India since the last IPL. Two teams have been added, the length of the season is longer, and two of the game’s most recognizable faces – MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli – are no longer franchise captains. Check out some of the key points in this edition.
Longer season, new format
As in the 2011 season, the 10 teams are divided into two groups of five teams. Each team will play 14 games in the league phase – twice against the other four teams in their group; against the team of the corresponding row of the second group (organized by sowings) twice; and against the other four teams in the other group once.
For example, Mumbai will play two games against KKR, RR, DC, LG and CSK and one game against SRH, RCB, PBKS and GT. One difference from the 2011 format is that there is no home and away concept, as all games will take place in four venues.
Prospects for new teams
Apart from the Gujarat Lions, who finished in first place after the league phase in 2016, history has not been kind to new IPL additions in their first seasons. Therefore, the real goal of the Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants may be to qualify for the playoffs before they can set a higher goal.
Does any team have a chance to break the MI-CSK duopoly?
The Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, with the most trophies, the top four and the highest percentage of victories, dominate almost every chart. However, after this year’s big auction, MI looks significantly weaker in the bowling alley, while CSK is now the new captain of Ravindra Jadeja after the MS Dhoni edition was discontinued. The stage can really be prepared for a surprise.
T20 World Cup rehearsal
With almost seven months left in the T20 World Cup in Australia, there is no better tournament to try than the IPL. Under the leadership of the new Rohit Sharma captain, the Indian think tank will try to create reserves for each position. All eyes will be on:
Ishan Kishan: He opened the Indian national team against Sri Lanka and the West Indies five times last month, but scored only once when he scored 89 goals against Sri Lanka. Chisinau may find it difficult to play for the Indian national team while Richard Pants is next, but the way he beat the IPL could encourage selectors to rethink.
Ruturay Gaikvads: Last season’s top scorer in the IPL, he scored just four shots on eight balls in the only T20I (against WI) he played last month. Another productive season with CSK will help Gaikvadam stay current and give India more opportunities.
Ravi Bishnoi: Icon player Bishnoi is now in the big league. He is often referred to as smart bowling, so he will have to invent more variations and possibly add a deceptive leg break to expand his repertoire.
Shubman Jill: Despite his successful work at KKR, Gils has not yet played for the T20 national team in India. Opening in India could be a distant idea for him given the number of candidates, but he could always go down if he wants to surprise the selectors.
Hardiks Pandja: Panda, who has been demoted to the central contract list, has had physical fitness problems and has not played for the Indian national team since the T20 World Cup last October. The only way he can play for the Indian national team again is just as versatile, and this season he has the best chance of renewing his credentials.
At the peak of history
Aaron Finch: This time, he is set to play for the record-breaking ninth IPL franchise after KKR signed him as a replacement for Alex Heils, who resigned, citing bubble fatigue.
Dveins Bravo: The Caribbean footballer, who is playing in the CSK ranks again this time, needs three goals to equate Lasita Maling (170 goals) as the IPL’s top scorer of all time.
Virats Kolli: The former Indian captain has one century to reach Chris Gail’s record with six hundred IPLs. Kohli is already the highest winner of the IPL (6283 races).
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