Another season of the Indian Premier League begins on Saturday and this time we have an extended competition with two more franchises joining the fray. That means we have 10 teams going to post for the new campaign.
One of those 10 teams are the Chennai Super Kings who will be defending the title they won in the UAE last year. They will do that in India this term but they won’t have home advantage so they will need to come together as one once again.
2021 – Chennai Super Kings
2020 – Mumbai Indians
2019 – Mumbai Indians
2018 – Chennai Super Kings
2017 – Mumbai Indians
2016 – Sunrisers Hyderabad
2015 – Mumbai Indians
2014 – Kolkata Knight Riders
2013 – Mumbai Indians
2012 – Kolkata Knight Riders
We have another change in format for this season given there are two extra teams. Each team plays 14 regular season matches with everyone playing each of the other teams once and then they play five other teams a second time with those fixtures being determined on the previous rankings in the competition. The format for the play-offs has changed too with only the top four making it through to the final stages. The top two get two bites of the cherry at making the final with the winner of the first against second meeting going straight through. Third face fourth in a straight knockout with the winner meeting the loser of the first game to determine the second team in the final. One slight tweak in terms of the rules is that apart from run outs the new batter must be on strike after a wicket.
The tournament returns to India this season after it was forced to finish in the UAE last term but with Covid still a thing in the country the decision has been made to base the whole event at four venues across Mumbai and Pune. The Wankhede Stadium is the best known of the tracks. That is the usual home ground of the Mumbai Indians. The other three venues to be used for this tournament will be the Brabourne Stadium, the Dr DY Patil Sports Academy and the MCA Stadium in Pune, the former home of the Pune Warriors.
The Mumbai Indians are the only team in the competition who will play any matches on their home ground this season. They only play four matches at the Wankhede but you would imagine that will help them a little bit. They look to have an even more powerful batting unit than previously if that was possible and with some good work done to their bowling attack in the recent auction it is not hard to see why the Indians are the 9/2 favourites to win the competition. They look like the team to beat this season.
The Delhi Capitals were expected to go very well last season but they couldn’t get the job done despite a positive regular campaign. They are another side who have done some good work in the auction with David Warner and Mustafizur Rahman added to their ranks. They have lost a couple of big players in Shikhar Dhawan and Kagiso Rabada, the latter of whom could have been really key this term. They should still go well but will need a lot of things to go right if they are to justify their 11/2 quotes.
It is one of those amazing sporting facts that the Royal Challengers Bangalore have never won this competition when you consider the quality of player they have had down the years. On paper their squad doesn’t look quite as strong with out and out Indian top quality bowlers lacking in depth. The Challengers are under new captaincy this season with Faf du Plessis taking over from Virat Kohli but I always think it is weird when the outgoing captain remains in a team. It is a dynamic I don’t really like so I’m happy to pass on the 7/1.
The Punjab Kings have been a side who have flattered to deceive in their time in this competition and losing KL Rahul certainly isn’t going to help their quest this season, but that loss aside they look to have done some good work to their squad. They have added the likes of Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone, Kagiso Rabada, Shikhar Dhawan and Odean Smith to their squad for this season and while they won’t all be able to play with the overseas restrictions, that is a good core of players to rotate. If they just had another standout Indian bowler I would be really strong on them at 8/1 but the lack of one puts me off.
Chennai Super Kings were written off going into last season as an aging force who weren’t going to be able to deliver the goods again. They soon rammed those thoughts down the throats of everyone when they scampered to the title and now they will attempt to emulate the Mumbai Indians and make a successful defence of the title. Their preparations for the new season haven’t been helped by MS Dhoni standing down as captain pretty late in the day while the lengthy injury to Deepak Chahar is definitely going to be an issue. If Ravi Jadeja hits the ground running as captain and Dwayne Bravo still has what it takes then Chennai could be contenders again at 8/1.
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The Rajasthan Royals were the inaugural winners of this tournament and they will be extra fired up to win it this season to crown the legacy of Shane Warne days after his tragic passing. They have gone through a huge turnover in personnel from last season with the likes of Jofra Archer and Liam Livingstone having left but additions in the form of Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Ashwin and Devdutt Padikkal to go with the likes of Sanju Samson, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Riyan Parag who were already there gives them a strong Indian core. Jimmy Neesham, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Obed McCoy offer up good overseas bowling options and the Royals look like a side who could improve. At 9/1 there are worse bets than them this season.
It is very rare that you can get 10/1 on the Kolkata Knight Riders on the best prices but that is the case this week. They won the title in 2012 and 2014 but haven’t been able to lift the prize since then and have gradually faded as a force despite having two of the best IPL overseas servants in Andre Russell and Sunil Narine. Their decline in form and fitness has been a big reason why the Knight Riders have struggled recently and with the likes of Eoin Morgan no longer around and Alex Hales pulling out of the tournament fairly late on there is certainly a transition period for Kolkata to go through. They still have some stars but others look more established.
The Sunrisers Hyderabad got nothing going last season and after an exodus of stars since then you have to think the quotes of 16/1 are realistic. A lot of the success of the Orange Army was down to the runs of Jonny Bairstow and David Warner as well as the wickets and economical overs of Rashid Khan. Those three have all left the Hyderabad camp and the hole they leave will be very hard to fill. Nicholas Pooran, Sean Abbott and Marco Jansen are good signings but unless Kane Williamson has a wonder season with the bat Sunrisers look too light with the bat for my liking.
Two new franchises have been given licences for this season with both of them 12/1 on the best prices. I think the Lucknow Super Giants look the better of the two on paper with KL Rahul and Quinton de Kock looking a good opening partnership on paper and Ravi Bishnoi and Avesh Khan two of the better Indian bowlers in the competition. If the likes of Andrew Tye, Marcus Stoinis, Manish Pandey, Krunal Pandya and Deepak Hooda can play to their potential then the Super Giants could be ones to watch this term.
Gujarat Lions are the other new team in the competition with Hardik Pandya given the task of captaining them. That will be interesting because he doesn’t have a huge amount of captaincy experience but with Rashid Khan, Mohammad Shami and Lockie Ferguson among others within his bowling resources there is no reason why his new team can’t be competitive. They will need the likes of Shubman Gill and Wriddhiman Saha to be solid with the bat to allow the more explosive players to thrive but if that happens the Lions might surprise a few. I don’t see them winning the competition though.
The outright market for this tournament is probably one I will visit as the competition goes on but I can’t avoid a little play on the Rajasthan Royals to begin with. I think they have done some good work with their squad and would expect to see something of an improvement from them this term, a season which carries plenty of motivation after their ties to the late Shane Warne. In Jos Buttler they have for me the most feared player in the game when he fires and their bowling options look a lot more suited to the task in front of them.
You would imagine the longer this competition goes on at just four venues the more spin will come into play even with the dew factor being involved and in Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravi Ashwin the Royals have two of the best Indian exponents of that which will mean they can focus their overseas talent elsewhere. It gives them the option of playing three overseas batters or three overseas seamers should they want and those options are a real luxury in this competition. This looks an open tournament to me but I’ll start off by having the Rajasthan Royals on side.
Back Rajasthan Royals to win IPL 2022 (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 10.00 with Bet365 (1/2 1-2)