Five reasons to get into the Indian Premier League

Indian skipper Virat Kohli. Photo / AP
Indian skipper Virat Kohli. Photo / AP

With the Sunrisers Hyderabad meeting the Royal Challengers Bangalore to start the Indian Premier League's 10th edition this morning, Andrew Alderson finds five reasons to get immersed in T20's ultimate festival of glamour.

1) This photo

Royal Challengers Bangalore (and Indian) captain Virat Kohli pledged he was no longer friends with Australian cricketers after the test series... then he's snapped as a jester surrounded by three of them, while pledging his allegiance to the Marylebone Cricket Club's Spirit of Cricket campaign at the official launch function. What sort of pantomime is this?

The official IPL website said the skippers were "at their jovial and whackiest best and were completely in their elements in front of the camera".

2. What a time to be alive for New Zealand pace bowlers

A first XI of current or former Black Caps are involved, with at least one at every franchise. However, that is disproportionately weighted in favour of pace bowlers with Trent Boult (Kolkata Knight Riders), Matt Henry (Kings XI Punjab), Lockie Ferguson (Rising Pune Supergiant), Adam Milne (Royal Challengers Bangalore), Mitchell McClenaghan and Tim Southee (Mumbai Indians) getting guernseys.

They'll be gagging for their water bottles at fine leg after bowling four overs per game, but the sacrifice will be worth it.

Colin de Grandhomme (KKR) and Corey Anderson (Delhi Daredevils) fly the New Zealand all-rounder flag, while Kane Williamson (Sunrisers Hyderabad), Martin Guptill (KXIP) and Brendon McCullum (Gujarat Lions) get batting gigs.

3. How are matters shaping up at the Rising Pune Supergiant?

For starters, they mean business after dropping the 's' off their name to become singular rather than plural. Apparently this was enacted so they're seen as one team as opposed to a group of individuals after finishing second-to-last in their maiden season. Veteran captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was replaced by Australian skipper Steve Smith as a result, but will continue as a wicketkeeper-batsman. As RPS owner Sanjiv Goenka told Indian publication PTI: "Dhoni has not stepped down. We have appointed Steve Smith as the skipper for the upcoming season. Frankly speaking, we did not have a good last season and we wanted someone young to lead the side and revamp it."

The dynamic between Smith and coach Stephen Fleming will be worth watching. This could be the IPL's version of Coronation St.

4. Speaking of the former New Zealand captain, how will he fare against his Black Caps successor Daniel Vettori, who coaches RCB?

The rivalry might be intense, but it will overshadowed by the match-up between their respective captains, Smith and Virat Kohli. The latter pair will duel for the first time since the acrimonious India-Australia test series - provided Kohli overcomes the shoulder injury which kept him out of the decider at Dharamsala.

Those games, and specifically the body language within, should be compelling. The first match, at Bangalore, will be played before dawn on April 17 (NZT); the return fixture, at Pune, starts late evening on April 29 (NZT).

5. What sort of role will Williamson fill under coach Tom Moody at the defending champion Sunrisers Hyderabad?

Surely the world's third-ranked T20 batsman will get a more regular start than the previous two seasons where he racked up eight games, albeit with a hamstring injury disrupting some of last season.

He might struggle to get an opening role with captain David Warner and Indian representative Shikhar Dhawan in the mix. Perhaps space could be made by moving one of that pair to No.3, and having Williamson as an anchor. He would be wasted otherwise.

Only four overseas players are allowed in any XI, and the likes of Bangladesh's Mustafizur Rahman, England's Chris Jordan and Australia's Ben Cutting and Ben Laughlin will push for selection as pace bowlers.

- NZ Herald

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