The IPL begins its twelfth season on Saturday 23rd March and runs until 12th May
Chennai Super Kings are the defending champions.
Best odds for the tournament at the time of writing are as follows:
Sunrisers Hyderabad 9/2
Chennai Super Kings 11/2
Mumbai Indians 6/1
Rajastan Royals 6/1
Delhi Capitals 8/1
Kings XI Punjab 10/1
The distribution of group stage results in 2018 showed how competitive the IPL is. CSK topped the league table with 9 wins, the bottom side had 5. Each side has match-winners and all sides tend to be competitive. Consistency of results is key, and difficult to achieve.
I wouldn’t argue that Sunrisers are the favourites as the betting market suggests, finalists last season and with Rashid Khan a leg spinning match winner across a number of global T20 competitions back in the team again, but at 9/2 their prospects are well known. CSK is a powerful squad and a team that has never missed reaching the play-offs in the years they have competed, RCB once more looks batting heavy and KKR are always competitive especially with their slower bowlers at home.
At the prices I think there is value outside the few favourites.
Kings XI Punjab haven’t made the play-offs since 2014. They started the 2018 IPL very well and were on course for a place in the knockout stages, but their results worsened in the second part of the group stages, losing five matches in a row to miss out. Why might it be different this year?
The main reason I am interested is not the presence of Chris Gayle and KL Rahul (third highest scoring batsman in the tournament last year) and the South African hitter David Miller but the options in the bowling line up and its typically bowling depth and options that are crucial in making a difference in these long competitions.
AJ Tye the Australian was top wicket taker in the competition last season with 24 wickets and he returns to the squad for 2019.
Alongside Tye, options include Ashwin, Sam Curran, Mohammed Shami and Hardus Viljoen amongst the established players. As well Afghan teenager Mujeeb Ur Rahman broke through in the last IPL. The off-spinner took 14 wickets in 11 matches at an average of 20.64 at under 7 runs an over.
There is also a broader Investment in youth. Varun Chakravarthy was bought in the IPL auction. He is a leg-spinner who showed potential in the Tamil Nadu Premier League where he took nine wickets at 21 runs each and an economy rate of only 4.70. Also, in the 50-over domestic tournament in India he finished as the tournament’s second highest wicket-taker. He is meant to have seven variations and will be an unknown quantity in the IPL.
They have also invested heavily on Prabhsimran Singh largely due to good performances with the India Under-19s/India Emerging team. Finally the young West Indian batsman Nicholas Pooran was recruited.. He scored 379 runs in 11 matches at an average of 47.3 in the recent BPL and scored three half-centuries in the competition.
This doesn’t look like a team that should be outsider of 8 and 10-1. They have more depth than last season and reasonable chance of making play-offs and giving us a run.