The big fat Indian Premier League preview

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April has come to be synonymous in cricket circles with the beginning of the Indian Premier League, the premier domestic T20 competition.

The IPL has provided a platform for Indian talent to turn out alongside the world’s best Twenty20 mercenaries launching careers and providing a cricketainment spectacular.

Here we attempt to provide some sort of preview to the frantic two months of tonking that lie ahead.

We look at each teams chances based on their available players and team balance and try to predict the unpredictable.

What format will the IPL use in 2018?

The eight teams face each other twice, home and away, to determine the four teams that will advance to the playoffs.

The top two teams will face off in the first qualifier on May 22 with the winner going straight into the final.

The losers of that contest have one more chance to advance to the final facing the winners of the eliminator, a match between third and fourth on May 23, in the second qualifier on May 25.

The final will be held on May 27 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

Where can I watch the IPL?

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16 UK Talksport

Team by team preview

Chennai Super Kings

The popular Chennai franchise return to the IPL this season having been suspended for the 2016 and 2017 seasons due to financial shenanigans.

CSK are one of the early favourites to make the playoffs with their squad boasting a fantastic blend of youth and experience. Led by Captain Cool MS Dhoni backed by an in-form Suresh Raina and a clutch of top overseas talent CSK’s biggest issue might be who to leave out of their XI.

Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis has followed Dhoni from the Rising Pune Supergiant accompanied by leggie Imran Tahir and exciting pace talent Lungi Ngidi who made a big impression on India during their recent safari in South Africa. Veterans Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson and Harbhajan Singh will impart valuable experience to the team’s young guns.

The squad contains two Englishman in the form of Durham paceman Mark Wood and Kent batsman Sam Billings.

In terms of young Indian talent that could make an impact Dhruv Shorey has been tipped for big things. He scored 303 runs at an average of 60.60 in this season’s T20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy for Delhi and will relish the opportunity to displace some established names.

CSK will be disappointed if they fail to at the very least make it to the playoffs.

IPL

Key Player: Look no further than that man Dhoni, his experience and BMT will be central to CSK’s ambition to win a third IPL title in 2018

Squad: MS Dhoni (capt), Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina, Kedar Jadhav, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, Shane Watson, Shardul Thakur, Ambati Rayudu, Murali Vijay, Harbhajan Singh, Faf Du Plessis, Mark Wood, Sam Billings, Imran Tahir, Deepak Chahar, Mitchell Santner, Lungisani Ngidi, Asif K M, N Jagadeesan, Kanishk Seth, Monu Singh, Dhruv Shorey, Kshitiz Sharma, Chaitanya Bishnoi

Mitchell Santner has been ruled out of the 2018 IPL. CSK have yet to name his replacement

Delhi Daredevils

The Delhi franchise have never won the IPL but head into the eleventh edition with one of the strongest squads they have ever boasted.

The Daredevils will build their batting around the exciting talents of Risabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer while #MaxwellBall fans will be delighted at the acquisition of the ‘big show’ Glenn Maxwell who turned out for the Kings XI Punjab last season.

The Dilliboys lost Kagiso Rabada days before the tournament start but can still call on red hot Black Cap’s quick Trent Boult fresh of his demolition of England

Rabada’s Proteas Teammate Chris Morris was retained alongside Pant and Iyer having proved his value as an impact player in previous editions.

Sandeep Lamichhane becomes the first Nepalese player to turn out in the IPL making up an overseas contingent that includes one South African (Morris), two Kiwis (Boult and Colin Munro), one Aussie (Dan Christian) and one Englishman (Jason Roy).

Young Privti Shaw had a stellar Under-19 World Cup and has already been earmarked for big things in the national team set up.

The Daredevils have been declared outsiders for the tournament by bookmakers but they sport a squad that could cause more than their fair share of upsets.

Key player: The experience of returning skipper Gautam Gambhir may yet prove critical to the Daredevils hopes of claiming their first IPL silverware.

Squad: Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer, Chris Morris, Glenn Maxwell, Kagiso Rabada, Amit Mishra, Shahbaz Nadeem, Vijay Shankar, Rahul Tewatia, Mohammad Shami, Gautam Gambhir (capt), Trent Boult, Colin Munro, Daniel Christian, Jason Roy, Naman Ojha, Prithvi Shaw, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Avesh Khan, Abhishek Sharma, Jayant Yadav, Harshal Patel, Manjot Kalra, Sandeep Lamichhane, Sayan Ghosh

Kings XI Punjab

The Kings XI have appointed their fourth captain in three years with Ravichandran Ashwin taking over from departing Aussie Maxwell.

The Punjab franchise could have their depth in key areas exposed if things don’t go according to plan for their big names.

West Indies master blaster Chris Gayle will need to shrug off a disappointing 2017 campaign with RCB which was a factor in him nearly going unsold at the 2018 auction.

Gayle is likely to be partnered up top by Aussie destroyer Aaron Finch and the success or failure of this new combination may determine the course of their IPL campaign.

The owners have appeared to be at odds with coach Virender Sehwag after choosing to retain only spinner Axar Patel ahead of an auction that saw them compile the second smallest squad in IPL 11.

The overseas contingent is dominated by Australians with Finch joined by knuckle ball expert Andrew Tye, proven match-winner Marcus Stoinis and T20 jobber Ben Dwarshuis.

The Proteas David Miller returns but IPL centurion Hashim Amla will not take part in the 2018 edition of the competition.

The coach’s nephew Mayank Dagar is a young player worth watching having already displayed the ability to turn matches with his left-arm orthodox spin while Akshdeep Nath offers an option as part-time keeper.

The balance of the squad has been the subject of much debate with no established Indian seamers in the group.

Afghan spinner Mujeeb Zadran becomes the latest player from cricket’s newest Test nation to strut his stuff in the IPL after impressing at the Under-19 World Cup and World Cup Qualifier earlier this year.

The Kings XI look to be light in too many areas to mount a significant challenge.

Key Player: Lokesh Rahul has a big opportunity to press for more opportunities in the shortest format of the game while his performance behind the stumps will come under the microscope after the Kings XI failed to sign a recognized wicketkeeper.

IPL

Squad: Axar Patel, KL Rahul, Ravichandran Ashwin (capt), Andrew Tye, Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis, Karun Nair, Mujeeb Zadran, Ankit Singh Rajpoot, David Miller, Mohit Sharma, Barinder Singh Sran, Yuvraj Singh, Chris Gayle, Ben Dwarshuis, Akshdeep Nath, Manoj Tiwary, Mayank Agarwal, Manzoor Dar, Pardeep Sahu, Mayank Dagar

Kolkata Knight Riders

Sporting the smallest squad in the IPL at just 19 members the Kolkata Knight Riders got a massive boost ahead of the tournament with the news that devastating Aussie batsman Chris Lynn was passed fit to play.

KKR will have to do without the talents of Mitchell Starc who broke down after a long season but replaced the quick with energetic English allrounder Tom Curran.

Skipper Dinesh Karthik will have few established Indian batsman at his disposal but will no doubt hope that veteran Robin Uthappa and youngster Shubnam Gill hit the ground running.

The Knight Riders retained spinner-cum-pinch-hitter Sunil Narine and compatriot Andre Russell ahead of an auction where they snapped up bargain allrounders Javon Searles and Cameron Delport who are both experienced domestic campaigners in their respective countries.

The Kolkata-based outfit snapped up two of India’s brightest young seam talents in the shape of Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti both of whom have already been clocked at 140kmph+ in their short careers and put in star turns in the ICC Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand.

Key player: Kuldeep Yadav is a handful in any conditions against any opposition and is primed to have a big season at Eden Gardens.

IPL

Squads: Sunil Narine*, Andre Russell*, Chris Lynn,Tom Curran, Dinesh Karthik (capt), Robin Uthappa, Kuldeep Singh Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Nitish Rana, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Mitchell Johnson, Shubman Gill, Ranganath Vinay Kumar, Rinku Singh, Cameron Delport, Javon Searless, Apoorv Vijay Wankhade, Ishank Jaggi

Mumbai Indians

The defending champions and most successful team in IPL history are well placed for another good season having retained three top India white ball stars in Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah.

Backing them up are a number of international stars with established IPL pedigrees leaving the reigning champions with an embarrassment of riches that includes West Indies stars Kieron Pollard, a long-time Indians stalwart, and Evin Lewis, a man with a T20I century to his name.

In-form JP Duminy is the lone South African in the squad while experienced Aussie campaigner Ben Cutting, who won the IPL with the Sunrisers in 2016, being joined by compatriot Pat Cummins who could star with both bat and ball in the explosive format.

There doesn’t appear to be a single weak link in their overseas ranks with Mustafizur Rahman, Akila Dhananjaya and Mitchell McClenaghan completing their quota.

The ‘other’ Pandya, Krunal was a key member of the squad in 2017 showing ability as a finisher coming in behind Hardik and Pollard.

18-year-old Rajasthan spinner Rahul Chahar is a player who could have a big future but may find opportunities hard to come by in a star studded team

Key Player: No question here that Bumrah is worth his weight in gold for any T20 side having established himself as one of the best white-ball bowlers and arguably the best death bowler in the world right now.

Squad: Rohit Sharma* (capt), Hardik Pandya*, Jasprit Bumrah*, Krunal Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, Pat Cummins, Evin Lewis, Suryakumar Yadav, Ben Cutting, Mustafizur Rahman, Rahul Chahar, Pradeep Sangwan, Jean-Paul Duminy, Saurabh Tiwary, Tajinder Dhillon, Akila Dhananjaya, Nidheesh M D Dinesan, Aditya Tare, Siddhesh Dinesh Lad, Mayank Markande, Sharad Lumba, Anukul Roy, Mohsin Khan, Mitchell McClenaghan.

Rajasthan Royals

The second of the returning franchises, The Rajasthan Royals, lost skipper Steve Smith to a ban after the sandpaper controversy during the Australia tour to South Africa.

Smith was replaced as skipper by Ajinkya Rahane and the Aussies pain turned into delight for Proteas keeper Heinrich Klaasen, whose demolition of Yuzvendra Chahal at Supersport Park earlier this year surely factored heavily in him being picked up.

The Royals spent big at the auction bringing in England allrounder Ben Stokes and India seamer Jaydev Unadkat at a premium.

They may yet lose Stokes to legal proceedings relating to the charges of affray pending against the English star after his now infamous night out in Bristol last year.

The men from Rajasthan sport the largest group of English based players with Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer joining the franchise.

Big Bash star D’Arcy short capped a remarkable season with an IPL deal that gives the Royals an exciting top order that includes a breakout players from IPL 10 Sanju Samson and million dollar baby Rahul Tripathi.

Sri Lanka seamer Dusmantha Chameera and Aussie Ben Laughlin complete the foreign legion that the Royals.

The next breakout star in the Royals ranks could be 18-year-old allrounder Mahipal Lomror after enjoying solid campaigns in the preceding domestic limited overs compeitions.

Key Player: Short could be the man who powers the Royals into the playoffs which would be the dream end to a brilliant season for the Aussie batsman.

Ajinkya Rahane (capt), Ben Stokes, Jaydev Unadkat, Sanju Samson, Jofra Archer, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jos Buttler, Darcy Short, Rahul Tripathi, Dhawal Kulkarni, Zahir Khan Pakteen, Ben Laughlin, Stuart Binny, Dushmantha Chameera, Anureet Singh, Aryaman Vikram Birla, Midhun S, Shreyas Gopal, Prashant Chopra, Jatin Saxena, Ankit Sharma, Mahipal Lomror, Heinrich Klaasen

Royal Challengers Bangalore

The Royal Challengers Bangalore begin yet another bid to shrug off their under-achievers tag with another squad jam-packed full of stars.

Led by the biggest star of them all Virat Kohli, RCB will hope the India skipper will bring them the same success he has imparted on to the national team.

Kohli is joined by RCB stalwart and Proteas superstar AB de Villiers, whose return to the SA team has powered an incredible home season. De Villiers is playing some of the best cricket of his life and will have aggressive wicketkeeper batsman Quinton de Kock around for some familiarity.

Despite discarding Chris Gayle RCB boast a potent looking batting lineup that includes former Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum and India wicketkeeper batsman Parthiv Patel giving them plenty of options behind the stumps.

Their spin pantry looks equally well stocked led by the likes of Yuzvendra Chahal and Nidahas Trophy hero Washington Sundar expected to play a big part.

The Bangalore team sport two England allrounders in the shape of Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali who will be looking to put a long winter tour downunder behind them.

No team can claim more New Zealanders with Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee and Corey Anderson teaming up with former Black Caps skipper McCullum.

He may not be express but young seamer Kulwant Khejroliya is a clever cricketer with a knack for taking wickets and is a player worth keeping an eye on.

Key player: Even the presence of De Villiers will do little to offset the weight of expectation on skipper Kohli who will be central to bringing a maiden IPL title to the Chinnaswamy stadium.

Squad: Virat Kohli (capt), AB de Villiers, Sarfaraz Khan, Chris Woakes, Yuzvendra Singh Chahal, Umesh Yadav, Brendon McCullum, Washington Sundar, Navdeep Saini, Quinton De Kock, Mohammed Siraj, Colin De Grandhomme, M. Ashwin, Parthiv Patel, Moeen Ali, Mandeep Singh, Manan Vohra, Pawan Negi, Tim Southee, Kulwant Khejroliya, Aniket Choudhary, Pavan Deshpande, Anirudha Ashok Joshi, Corey Anderson

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Having also lost their skipper to the ball tampering controversy, the Sunrisers have appointed the only foreign skipper in this year’s IPL with Kane Williamson stepping up to lead the 2016 winners.

The team can call on a slew of match-winners with both bat and ball with Bhuvneshwar Kumar set to lead an attack that includes Afghanistan stars Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi, Bangladesh tweaker Mehedi Hasan and Indian seamers Siddharth Kaul, Basil Thampi, Sandeep Sharma.

The depth in seam bowling strength may mean exciting young medium pacer Khaleel Ahmed will be little more than a net bowler but keep an eye out for the youngster who ended the Syed-Mushtaq Ali Trophy as the second highest wicket-taker.

The Sunrisers hopes of a second title took a major hit with the loss of David Warner but they will be hoping their international allrounders Carlos Brathwaite, Shakib-al-Hasan and Nabi can make significant contributions while they will rely on India opener Shikhar Dhawan to give them the kind of starts they want alongside English opener Alex Hales.

Key player: Bhuvi is a handful during the powerplay and more than useful at the death as well, expect to see him win matches for the Orange Army.

Squad: Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kane Williamson (capt), Manish Pandey, Alex Hales, Rashid Khan, Shikhar Dhawan, Wriddhiman Saha, Siddarth Kaul, Deepak Hooda, Syed Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma, Carlos Brathwaite, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Shreevats Goswami, Mohammad Nabi, Chris Jordan, Basil Thampi, T Natarajan, Sachin Baby, Bipul Sharma, Syed Mehdi Hasan, Ricky Bhui, Tanmay Agarwal.

Fixtures

All times local (GMT+5:30)

Saturday, 7 April: Mumbai Indians vs. Chennai Super Kings (2.30pm)
Sunday, 8 April: Kings XI Punjab vs. Delhi Daredevils (10.30am); Kolkata Knight Riders vs. Royal Challengers Bangalore (2.30pm)
Monday, 9 April: Sunrisers Hyderabad vs. Rajasthan Royals (2.30pm)
Tuesday, 10 April: Chennai Super Kings vs. Kolkata Knight Riders (2.30pm)
Wednesday, 11 April: Rajasthan Royals vs. Delhi Daredevils (2.30pm)
Thursday, 12 April: Sunrisers Hyderabad vs. Mumbai Indians (2.30pm)
Friday, 13 April: Royal Challengers Bangalore vs. Kings XI Punjab (2.30pm)
Saturday, 14 April: Mumbai Indians vs. Delhi Daredevils (10.30am); Kolkata Knight Riders vs. Sunrisers Hyderabad (2.30pm)
Sunday, 15 April: Royal Challengers Bangalore vs. Rajasthan Royals (10.30am); Kings XI Punjab vs. Chennai Super Kings (2.30pm)
Monday, 16 April: Kolkata Knight Riders vs. Delhi Daredevils (2.30pm)
Tuesday, 17 April: Mumbai Indians vs. Royal Challengers Bangalore (2.30pm)
Wednesday, 18 April: Rajasthan Royals vs. Kolkata Knight Riders (2.30pm)
Thursday, 19 April: Kings XI Punjab vs. Sunrisers Hyderabad (2.30pm)
Friday, 20 April: Chennai Super Kings vs. Rajasthan Royals (2.30pm)
Saturday, 21 April: Kolkata Knight Riders vs. Kings XI Punjab (10.30am); Delhi Daredevils vs. Royal Challengers Bangalore (2.30pm)
Sunday, 22 April: Sunrisers Hyderabad vs. Chennai Super Kings (10.30am); Rajasthan Royals vs. Mumbai Indians (2.30pm)
Monday, 23 April: Delhi Daredevils vs. Kings XI Punjab (2.30pm)
Tuesday, 24 April: Mumbai Indians vs. Sunrisers Hyderabad (2.30pm)
Wednesday, 25 April: Royal Challengers Bangalore vs. Chennai Super Kings (2.30pm)
Thursday, 26 April: Sunrisers Hyderabad vs. Kings XI Punjab (2.30pm)
Friday, 27 April: Delhi Daredevils vs. Kolkata Knight Riders (2.30pm)
Saturday, 28 April: Chennai Super Kings vs. Mumbai Indians (2.30pm)
Sunday, 29 April: Rajasthan Royals vs. Sunrisers Hyderabad (10.30am); Royal Challengers Bangalore vs. Kolkata Knight Riders (2.30pm)
Monday, 30 April: Chennai Super Kings vs. Delhi Daredevils (2.30pm)
Tuesday, 1 May: Royal Challengers Bangalore vs. Mumbai Indians (2.30pm)
Wednesday, 2 May: Delhi Daredevils vs. Rajasthan Royals (2.30pm)
Thursday, 3 May: Kolkata Knight Riders vs. Chennai Super Kings (2.30pm)
Friday, 4 May: Kings XI Punjab vs. Mumbai Indians (2.30pm)
Saturday, 5 May: Chennai Super Kings vs. Royal Challengers Bangalore (10.30am); Sunrisers Hyderabad vs. Delhi Daredevils (2.30pm)
Sunday, 6 May: Mumbai Indians vs. Kolkata Knight Riders (10.30am); Kings XI Punjab vs. Rajasthan Royals (2.30pm)
Monday, 7 May: Sunrisers Hyderabad vs. Royal Challengers Bangalore (2.30pm)
Tuesday, 8 May: Rajasthan Royals vs. Kings XI Punjab (2.30pm)
Wednesday, 9 May: Kolkata Knight Riders vs. Mumbai Indians (2.30pm)
Thursday, 10 May: Delhi Daredevils vs. Sunrisers Hyderabad (2.30pm)
Friday, 11 May: Rajasthan Royals vs. Chennai Super Kings (2.30pm)
Saturday, 12 May: Kings XI Punjab vs. Kolkata Knight Riders; Royal Challengers Bangalore vs. Delhi Daredevils (2.30pm)
Sunday, 13 May: Chennai Super Kings vs. Sunrisers Hyderabad (10.30am); Mumbai Indians vs. Rajasthan Royals (2.30pm)
Monday, 14 May: Kings XI Punjab vs. Royal Challengers Bangalore (2.30pm)
Tuesday, 15 May: Kolkata Knight Riders vs. Rajasthan Royals (2.30pm)
Wednesday, 16 May: Mumbai Indians vs. Kings XI Punjab (2.30pm)
Thursday, 17 May: Royal Challengers Bangalore vs. Sunrisers Hyderabad
Friday, 18 May: Delhi Daredevils vs. Chennai Super Kings (2.30pm)
Saturday, 19 May: Rajasthan Royals vs. Royal Challengers Bangalore (10.30am); Sunrisers Hyderabad vs. Kolkata Knight Riders (2.30pm)
Sunday, 20 May: Delhi Daredevils vs. Mumbai Indians (10.30am); Chennai Super Kings vs. Kings XI Punjab (2.30pm)

IPL play-off fixtures

Tuesday, 22 May: TBC vs. TBC – Qualifier 1 (2.30pm)
Wednesday, 23 May: TBC vs. TBC – Eliminator (2.30pm)
Friday, 25 May: TBC vs. TBC – Qualifier 2 (2.30pm)
2018 IPL final

Sunday, 27 May: 2.30pm at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai

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