The time for colorful razzmatazz, dancing cheerleaders, local celeb spotting and pithy commentary is here – and yes, you get to watch some high octane cricket too.
The fifth edition of IPL is bound to be more tightly contested than the previous edition, for the simple reason being that the Indian cricketers couldn’t have had a more contrasting build-up to this year’s IPL. Last year, they entered the tournament fatigued and emotionally spent after the World Cup win while this year, they will be itching to prove themselves after a couple of disappointing months on the international stage. The favorites are the usual suspects: Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders. CSK will be looking for an unprecedented 3rd straight title, while the other three are still searching for their maiden triumphs. The other teams have a lesser shot, but can take hope from the campaigns of Rajasthan Royals in IPL1 and Deccan Chargers in IPL2, which showed that if you grab the opportune moments, glory is not impossible.
This year, there are quite a few international players who will be making their IPL debuts, and most of them are match-winners in their own right. While the likes of Pollard, Gayle, Kohli, Raina, Sehwag etc are proven IPL performers, it will be interesting to see if these players can make a name for themselves in the biggest domestic T20 tournament in the world. I present to you, the Newbie XI to watch in IPL 2012:
Country: South Africa
IPL team: Mumbai Indians
Role: Opening batsman
T20 stats: HS – 117, Avg – 30.87, SR – 149.69
As if the Mumbai Indians were not bursting at the seams with batting talent, they have added a new explosive batsman to the team. Levi is one of the most dangerous players in the South African domestic T20s and within 2 games of his international T20 debut, he made the world sit up and notice with a blistering 117 against the Kiwis when the Saffers were chasing 174. A player who is built and strikes like Pollard, is just one more headache for the opposition bowlers. Will he be the new star in IPL 2012?
IPL team: Pune Warriors
Role: Opening batsman
T20 stats: HS – 91, Avg – 19.57, SR – 107.15
Its really surprising that a man known for his audacious hitting and rapid fire starts has a modest record in T20s. All that could change, given his recent form and new found consistency. With the likes of Ganguly and Graeme Smith to mentor him, Iqbal would be learning from the best, and will be aiming to make his captain and his countrymen very proud.