The 12th IPL begins on Saturday
First matches are as follows
Saturday 23rd May
Chennai Super Kings v RCB
The reigning champions CSK kick off the new season at home against the star studded RCB team. Chennai retained most of their squad from last year, which at times was questioned for being ageing but it really clicked under MS Dhoni to give them a third title. This is though a deep squad that is difficult to beat at home and understandably they are favourites to start the competition with a win.
RCB are habitual under-achievers with huge star names, vaunted batting line ups but only three finals and no wins in 11 seasons. Kohli and De Villiers will win matches and the squad looks a bit more balanced with the recruitment of Stoinis in the all rounder ranks Lets see how they go this season
Prices here are CSK 5/6 and RCB 12/11 with SkyBet and I like CSK to win their first match
Sunday 24th May
KKR v Sunrisers Hyderabad
KKR have made the playoffs six times in eight seasons and won the title twice under Gambhir. Narine is their key player, a valuable pinch hitter and experienced spinner especially on the dry Kolkota tracks that suit their bowling line up
Sunrisers were beaten finalists last year and are favourites to win the title this year. To add to Warner and Williamson they have brought in Gupthill and Bairstow to provide a formidable top four. The bowling ranks were superb last season led by the top T20 bowler Rashid Khan
This is quite the match up and is priced up by Skybet at 19/20 each of the two teams. Sunrisers are a tough opponent but at home KKR are the value bet
Mumbai Indians v Delhi Capitals
Mumbai have won 3 IPL titles but failed to qualify for the play offs last year having won the title the year before. Usually slow league starters they were quiet in the auction too, the main incomer is Quinton De Kock.
The Capitals (formerly Daredevils) have finished bottom of the league on four out of nine appearances. They have brought in Dhawan one of only two Indian players on their roster with international experience, Ishant being the other and will rely on Munro at the top of the order in their overseas ranks. With possibly the worst squad in the league a play off appearance would be a surprise.
This accounts for them being 6/4 underdogs for their first game with Skybet, and it is difficult to look beyond Mumbai at 8/11.