Friday, 6 April 2012

The Middle Stump's Guide to the IPL

"The IPL is merely chewing gum, compared to the five courser being served over in Colombo", tweeted Telegraph cricket correspondent Derek Pringle, but like it or loath it, the Indian Premier League is back for a fifth instalment.

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Starting on the 4th April and finishing on the 27th May, the IPL has already opened with a lavish opening ceremony involving Katy Perry. A lot of the Indian fans we know, wish it to be more about the cricket than watching the ex Mrs Brand call up Doug Bollinger on to the stage in a cringe worthy fashion. Anyway, the bookies will be busy, the glitz and the razzmatazz will be turned up full volume and the circus begins. Already the controversy has started with Kochi Tuskers Kerala being kicked out after just one season, and no doubt there will be much more as we progress.

Here we guide you through the teams, their players and who we think has a chance of winning it;


Skippered by MS Dhoni and with Stephen Fleming as coach, the winners of the last two seasons are naturally favourites with the turf accountants. With Michael Hussey, scorer of 492 runs last year returning, and Dwayne Bravo and Albie Morkel in their side, the Super Kings signalled their intent by bidding $2 million for Ravindra Jadeja, an IPL record.


The winners of the Champions League T20, and led by Singh and Singh (Harbajhan skippering, Robin coach), any team with Tendulkar, Hershelle Gibbs and leading IPL wicket taker, the slinger, Malinga in their team will be there or there abouts. Watch out for South African big hitter, Richard Levi, a definite star of the future. They play at the fabulously named, Wankhede Stadium.


Last years new boys, the Pune Warriors were in, were out, came back in again, and then boycotted the IPL auction. I'm more than confused here, but led by Sourav Ganguly and with Allan Donald on the coaching staff, they have unfairly been given outsider status by the bookies. Michael Clarke, Wayne Parnell, Graeme Smith and Luke Wright should ensure they do ok.

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The place for the faint hearted


With their fortress Eden Gardens being full up with 90,000 screaming fans, the Knight Riders should also be another team who do well. Brendon McCullum will get them going with his six hitting record, and with Jacques Kallis, Eoin Morgan, Brett Lee, Narine etc backing him up, it could be a lively old time in the old Calcutta. They considered changing their name in the winter after the youth of the city were embarrassed of their connection with an 80's iconic TV series about a talking car. I can't think why?


Owned by the best looking owner in world cricket, Bollywood actress Preity Zinta, the Kings XI are led by Adam Gilchrist, with ex Middlesex Aussie Joe Dawes coaching them. David Hussey batting wise will get runs, and they will be relying on our main man Dimi Mascarenhas, a legend at T20 with bat and ball. However, I think it could be a season of struggle for them.

File:Zinta MIFF11.jpg as a butcher's dog


Last years runners up will be relying on skipper Daniel Vettori to be his usual economical self with the ball, along with Zaheer Khan, him of jellybean fame, and the mercurial Dirk Nannes. AB De Villiers will get runs, and Chris Gayle, rumoured to have patched things up with the West Indian cricket board, providing the early fireworks.


The bookies third favourites to win the IPL, the side representing the capital city have an anthem which translates into "Play on the Front Foot". Errr thanks, but if I am facing Shaun Tait or Brett Lee, I'd rather rock on to the back foot if that is ok with you? Morne Morkel will give them some fire power of their own, along with Doug Bracewell, whilst Kevin Pietersen, Mahela Jayawardene and Virender Sehweg offer them three of the most exciting talents in world cricket.


The out of form Sri Lankan keeper, Sangakkara will skipper Deccan this year, aided and abetted by Darren Lehman as coach. They will be looking to the captain himself, along with T20 specialist Darren Bravo to provide runs, whilst world number one bowler Dale Steyn will spearhead the attack.


The Wall, Rahul Dravid will lead the side, and will lead the batting line up, along with one of the highest run scorers in the league's history, Owais Shah. That's right, no typo! All rounders Shane Watson, Paul Collingwood and Brad Hogg will offer assistance whilst Shaun Tait, he the Glamorgan boys in our earlier interviews said was the quickest they had faced, will be making the odd opening bat hop around.

So there we go. The IPL isn't everyone's cup of Chai, but it provides new fans to the game, adds huge revenues and is here to stay. However, I'm with Derek Pringle here... Give me the ebb and flow of a five day Test match any day, as opposed to the instant gratification of T20!

Let us know who you think will win the IPL by following us on Twitter - @TheMiddleStump