After much anticipation, the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) is finally upon us as we gear up for what will be the 12th edition of the tournament.
After lots of speculation of the tournament moving outside of India due to the upcoming general elections, the BCCI eventually confirmed that the spectacle will remain in India in January and not move to another location with South Africa having looked the most likely.
The tournament will have plenty of sub-stories throughout it including player well fare ahead of the World Cup, the return to the big stages for the sandpaper gate trio of David Warner and Steve Smith as well as the final chances for players to put themselves into World Cup selection.
Teams to watch
The Chennai Super Kings marked their return to the competition in 2018 with another title as they remain the most successful team in the competitions history.
Captained by MS Dhoni, the Super Kings remain favourites again this tournament. With the likes of Dwayne Bravo, Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis and Ravindra Jadeja to name a few, the squad is littered with talent and they know what to do to get to a final.
Sunrisers Hyderabad remain a dark horse in the competition. New Zealand star Kane Williamson will captain the side which also boasts batsmen like Warner, Jonny Bairstow and Martin Guptill in their foreign contingency of batsman.
The side also has some great bowling options for the death in Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul as well as the sides ace up their sleeve in T20 superstar Rashid Khan. They have a good balance within the side and Williamson has proven how effective he can be as a captain.
Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians could also do a job if they click into gear. Bangalore will continue to lean on their batting stars of Virat Kohli and Ab de Villiers and hope their bowlers can step up. Mumbai have a quite a balanced squad with bowlers in the form of Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya the Pandya brothers and Lasith Malinga as well as an explosive opening pair in Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock.
Players to watch
The usual suspects of Chris Gayle, de Villiers and Kohli will be the crowd favourites with bat alongside Jos Butler, Sharma, Warner, de Kock and Watson.
Other batsman to watch out for include Sam Curran who will be making his debut in the tournament and be on he look out for Rishabh Pant who is looking for a World Cup squad place and Shimron Hetmyer who has burst onto the scene in spectacular fashion.
Bowling wise, Jasprit Bumrah and Rashid Khan will be looking to stamp their mark on the tournament while another bowler to keep a look out for is West Indian born soon to be English player Jofra Archer. The 23-year-old is the talk of the town ahead of the World Cup and having only just qualified to play for England will be relying on the IPL to make a case for World Cup squad inclusion.
Andrew Tye and Kuldeep Yadav are two more bowlers who could well be contending for the honours of the purple cap.
With the IPL the last chance for players to make their mark ahead of the ICC World Cup, we can expect some big performances, lots of surprises and non stop action from beginning to end as the IPL is once again upon us!