"[KKR] are all here and they have been looking forward to carrying on from where they left off."
T-20 has added a completely new dimension to the cricket world. Since each team gets to bat for a maximum of just 20 overs, the game is packed with hard hitting plays. The Indian Premier League (IPL), a professionally organised T-20 championship hosted by India, has taken T-20 cricket to a whole new level. IPL has now become synonymous to money, glamour and celebrities.
After five successful seasons, the sixth season of IPL was initiated on 2nd April 2013 with a huge inaugural ceremony. The ceremony saw sizzling dance performances by Bollywood stars Shahrukh Khan, Katrina Kaif and Deepika Padukone. The event was organised at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata and ended in style with the performance of American rapper Pitbull.
The sixth edition of IPL has nine teams who will play a total of 72 league matches. The top four teams will qualify for the next round.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Defending champions, the Kolkata Knight Riders will be looking to keep the trophy with them under the captaincy of Gautam Gambhir. Kolkata will also rely on the efforts of pacer Brett Lee and South African all rounder J Kallis to go all the way. They also have L Balaji with them who proved to be the most economical bowler in the last IPL tournament.
Speaking about his team, SRK said: “It’s wonderful [how] the whole team has fared. They are all here and they have been looking forward to carrying on from where they left off.”
Chennai Super Kings
Chennai Super Kings have the best record in the IPL so far. They won the championship twice in a row in 2010 and 2011 and have never failed to reach the semis. The team looks in good form this season especially with Indian skipper, M S Dhoni leading them from the front.
Speaking at the launch of CSK merchandise in Chennai, Dhoni said: “Our team has got an all-round team with some impact players in it. We are looking forward to maintain the consistency.”
Arguably, Chennai Super Kings are the strongest team. They also enjoy the services of hard hitting all rounder D Bravo, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja. The star studded team also features Ravichandran Ashwin, Faf du Plessis, Michael Hussey and Albie Morkel and will begin their campaign as favourites to win.
The Mumbai Indian squad is also a serious contender for the title. Ricky Ponting will lead the squad that includes Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Johnson, Lasith Malinga, Munaf Patel, Pragyan Ojha, Rohit Sharma, Pollard and Malinga.
Even though the team has always been strong, Mumbai has failed to win the title every season. The team is being coached by former Indian coach, John Wright.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Two-time runners-up Royal Challengers Bangalore will be looking forward to getting their hands on the cup. The team has Chris Gayle who could win the match for the team single-handedly. Gayle is undoubtedly the most destructive T-20 player. Other key players of the team include Virat Kohli, Daniel Christian, AB de Villiers, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Muttiah Muralitharan, Cheteshwar Pujara and Vinay Kumar.
Skipper Virat Kohli said: “Being drafted as a captain in under-19 in 2008 and now to be considered good enough to lead the side of great players, is a big honour and I am willing to prove my skills on the field.”
After winning the first IPL season, Rajasthan Royals did not have much success. The team seems to have right combination of international and domestic players. Their star attractions are Rahul Dravid, Kevon Cooper, Fidel Edwards, James Faulkner, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Kusal Janith Perera, Ajinkya Rahane, Sreesanth, Shaun Tait and Shane Watson.
Skipper Rahul Dravid, who also happens to be the coach of the team, said: “Death bowling is not a worry for our side any more as not only our experienced bowlers are back, we also have a good backup after signing a few more exciting players. I have a good feeling about this IPL season.”
The Delhi Daredevils have always been a strong team, but have failed to reach the finals until now. Mahela Jayawardene will lead the team. One of the star attractions of the team, Kevin Pieterson, may be missing the IPL action due to injury.
Another devastating blow for the team is that Jesse Rider, another key DD player, was recently attacked in a bar and will not be available for this season due to his critical injuries.
Virendra Sehwag, who will open the innings for the team, is known for his explosive innings and it will be a delight to see him in action. The other key players are Ajit Agarkar, Johan Botha, Jeevan Mendis, Morne Morkel, Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan and David Warner.
Sunrisers Hyderabad has seen a lot of management changes recently. The team is now owned by a new business group after the previous one got stuck with financial problems. The team will play under the captaincy of Sri Lankan wicket keeper Kumar Sangakkara.
The team looks fiery with key players like Shikhar Dhawan, Cameron White, JP Duminy, Quinton De Kock. But what is important is that they need to adapt to the changes and display a good team effort. The coach, Tom Moody, has already admitted that they will not start as the favourites but will look forward to make a strong impact.
Kings XI Punjab
Kings XI Punjab is another strong team which will be roaring to go. Captained by the explosive Australian wicket keeper Adam Gilchrist, the team has some strong international names to help their cause. David Miller, David Hussey, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Azhar Mahmood, Praveen Kumar, Piyush Chawla and Ryan Harris are some names which can make their opponents tremble.
Pune Warriors haven’t seen many memorable moments in the IPL until now. But the team will look to change the things and get their record straight under the captaincy of Angelo Mathews. They require significant contributions from the key players like Aaron Flinch, Yuvraj Singh, Ajantha Mwndis, Luke Wright, Mitchell Marsh, Marlon Samules, Robin Uthappa and Steve Smith.
The IPL cricket has a huge fan following. All the matches are bound to be witnessed by a jam packed crowd and millions will enjoy the live coverage worldwide. It also gives a golden opportunity for the domestic Indian players to play with and learn from the international players.
This season of IPL is all set to take T-20 cricket to a next level and a true cricket fan just can’t afford to miss any action.