MY SAY - IPL Time

The tenth edition of the Indian Premier League is now underway, and we’re in for another jam-packed, swashbuckling month-and-a-half of some world-class cricketing action.

The eight astronomically wealthy franchises set to take center-stage will each be gunning for a spot in the May 21 Grand Final and, as per usual, their superstars will be out to entertain.

The Sunrisers Hyderabad, led by the formidable figure of Shane Warner, go into the season as the defending champions, having won the 2016 event so magnificently twelve months ago.

Along with the Royal Challengers Bangalore, they’ll be considered hot favorites to go the distance once more and to potentially become the first side to go back-to-back since the Chennai Super Kings did it in 2010 and 2011.

With players of the caliber of Warner, Shikhar Dhawan, Yuvraj Singh and Ashish Nehra, it’s hard not to predict a qualifier finish for the men in orange at the very least.

The absence of Captain Fantastic, Virat Kohli, as well as AB de Villiers for RCB’s initial rounds are sure to affect the competition’s “nearly-men”. Kohli was in another stratosphere last year, managing a mind-boggling four centuries with the willow, and his absence will hit RCB hard.

The likes of Chris Gayle and Shane Watson will need to step up in the meanwhile, to potentially cover-up their side’s lack of firepower in their bowling attack.

The Gujurat Lions, Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders all boast an embarrassment of riches between them. The likes of Dwayne Smith, Jason Roy, Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik will all turn out for Gujurat, and are likely to top the order – destructive batting indeed.

The franchise with the best win-percentage in the competition, Mumbai, can rely on the talents of Jos Buttler and Rohit Sharma amongst others, while they will welcome back a certain Lasith Malinga to provide some X-Factor with the ball. Kolkata have again proved to be the standout bowling side, with Umesh Yadav and Sunil Narine proving to be pretty handy from time-to-time.

The Rising Pune Supergiant, Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab complete the line-up, with the three teams capitalizing on the recent influx of Englishmen joining “IPL 10”, by acquiring the respective services of Sam Billings, Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes – long gone are the days of the Kevin Pietersen/ ECB infighting.

With the ICC Champions Trophy scheduled to commence in June, what better way to whet your appetite than by binge-watching the likes of Steve Smith, Murali Vijay and co. in action? I, for one, am struggling for an alternative.

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