What a production – The Indian Premier League (IPL) is the most glitzy, exciting cricket in the world and even Bollywood takes a back seat throughout the tournament every year as 1.3 billion Indians go cricket crazy.
The 12th edition of the IPL gets under way on Saturday, with 60 matches being played up until 12 May. Three-time champions Chennai Super Kings play Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore as the opening match.
West Indies’ Chris Gayle is back on form in readiness for this year’s IPL as well as Indian stars like Kohli, MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma, fans get a chance to see AB de Villiers, Kane Williamson, Chris Gayle and many more in action. And with the 50-over ICC World Cup around the corner, they will all be looking to hit top form.
There’s also a big English presence.
There are 11 English players in action across the eight teams.
Archer could break into England’s World Cup squad after becoming eligible this month. The Sussex speedster had a fantastic Big Bash League campaign in Australia over the winter and will be eligible to play for England at this summer’s World Cup. It means there will be even more eyeballs on his performances for the Rajasthan Royals this season.
He’s quick, exciting and has the X factor Indian audiences love. Many expect him to be a huge success.
Shah Rukh Khan, 53, known as the King of Bollywood, owns the Kolkata Knight Riders, who won the IPL in 2012 and 2014 Bollywood and cricket come together for the IPL.
Many of India’s top film stars also have connections with franchises, either as owners or brand ambassadors.
They might as well, because nobody watches movies when the IPL is on. The whole country comes to a standstill for the IPL, so for the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Akshay Kumar – if you can’t beat them, join them.
The surprise package
A lot of attention will be on mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy, who went for 42 times his base price at the auction.
He has played only nine professional limited-overs matches, but Kings XI Punjab paid 1.8 million Canadian for his services.
Then there is the amazing story of 32-year-old Nottinghamshire bowler Harry Gurney. Already this winter he has won the T10 league with Northern Warriors, the BBL with Melbourne Renegades and the PSL with Quetta Gladiators.
Can he apply his Midas touch to the Kolkata Knight Riders remains to be seen.
Aussies David Warner and Steve Smith are back playing in the IPL after serving their bans for ball-tampering. They are both expected to make Australia’s World Cup squad and play in the summer’s Ashes, so it’ll be interesting to see how time away from top-level cricket has affected their games, if at all.
It’s fair to say they might get a slightly different reception in India to the one they’ll receive in England this summer.
IPL teams for 2019 season
Chennai Super Kings
Kings XI Punjab
Kolkata Knight Riders
Royal Challengers Bangalore