The IPL’s braai and biltong brigade

Blog Opinion

With one global tournament done and dusted, six long and sleepless weeks later, attention turns to another competition, which may not officially be a 'global' event, but functions as one nonetheless.

The Indian Premier League kicks off on Wednesday in Kolkata, where the defending champions, the Knight Riders, take on the Mumbai Indians. From there follows six weeks of frenetic action, two games a day in front of screaming hordes.

South Africa's involvement is enough for Proteas fans to pay attention, even if with one eye. The team with the highest Saffer presence, by a long way, is Delhi, where Gary Kirsten is head coach, and JP Duminy is captain. He was a surprise pick, ahead of Angelo Mathews and India hero Yuvraj Singh.

The Daredevils had a dismal season last year, winning just two matches and finishing stone last. Kirsten will hope his fortunes will improve this year, with Duminy, Quinton de Kock, Imran Tahir and Albie Morkel on his roster. Alfonso Thomas has been added to the coaching staff as well, making it a veritable biltong and braai enclave.

The Royal Challengers Bangalore will be one of the happier sides heading into the event, given they have World Cup star AB de Villiers in their ranks once again. He and Chris Gayle alone could win games for the RCB faithful, whose supporters are some of the most loyal in this ever-changing tournament.

Kolkata, meanwhile, have Jacques Kallis in their ranks once again, but the veteran all-rounder will not be playing this season. He has been retained as a 'mentor' for the younger players, filling the role he did last season, though back then it was by accident.

He was labeled the 'heart and soul' of the side by the team owner, and his experience will be required it they're to retain the trophy. Morne Morkel and Johan Botha will be on hand to assist, with Morkel coming in as the Proteas' leading wicket-taker at the World Cup.

Last season, Kings XI Punjab enjoyed a remarkable run of form thanks in large part to batsman David Miller, who joined forces with Australia's Glenn Maxwell more than once to propel the side to big scores. This is one of the stronger squads in the tournament, and also features Proteas paceman Beuran Hendricks and Aussie quick Mitchell Johnson. If you're a betting fan, this is a good horse to back.

Dale Steyn is back with the Sunrisers Hyderabad this season, and their supporters will hope he's recovered from his below par World Cup. The paceman is the only South African in the squad, but forms part of a formidable attack, which features World Cup star Trent Boult, as well as India quicks Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma.

Chennai Super Kings continue to have Faf du Plessis in their squad after he was retained by the owners, and they've also added paceman Kyle Abbott to their yellow ranks. Amusingly, the guy who runs their Twitter account called Abbott a batsman on the day of the auction, but was quickly corrected. His World Cup efforts, and surrounding drama, will have cemented him in the memories.

The Rajasthan Royals have South African bowlers Chris Morris and Rusty Theron and their head coach is former Proteas mentor Paddy Upton, while Mumbai Indians are coached in their fielding tactics by the legendary Jonty Rhodes.

The Proteas involved in the IPL will be looking to use this as a way to make sure they get a big pay day next year as well, but also to be in full flow come the tour to Bangladesh in July, which starts with two T20s in Mirpur.

Lindsay du Plessis