So it Begins

The IPL is here!

Though we Indians may support our favourite EPL or La Liga or Ligue 1 (yeah right) teams, we need a home team to support, and the IPL gives us that! An amazing mix of talented young Indians and the world's best players, the Indian Premier League is the cricketing event of the year, as last year's edition proved. This season is bigger and better; even more players are taking part, and the contest has garnered more attention. I will be bringing match previews everyday (tentative), and here is my tournament preview.

Mumbai Indians - The team I'm supporting! Last season was topsy-turvy, with a run of losses consolidated by a run of victories. Pollock may have moved to the backroom staff, but he's still there for inspiration. Sachin, Malinga and Harbhajan will be available for the whole season, barring (in order) injury and control of an itching hand. Add to that the old faces: Sanath Jayasuriya, Dwayne Bravo, Abhishek Nayar, surprise package Dhawal Kulkarni, and the fab new signings: Zaheer Khan, JP Duminy, Shikhar Dhawan, Graham Napier and Ryan McLaren. I really don't think Dilhara Fernando and Ashraful (though he was dirt cheap) are in the team.

Prediction: Beaten Finalists.

Rajasthan Royals - Last year's unexpected winners, are not expected to replicate their success. Warne is a tricky old bag, though, never ever underestimate his ability to get the others to play above themselves. Spent the least on players, but look stronger this time around. Warne hasn't played competitive cricket since last year's IPL, but I doubt he's forgotten how to flex his ginormous wrists. They've added Shane Harwood, newbie Rob Quiney and T20 specialist Tyron Henderson to their stars Graeme Smith, Ravindra Jadeja, Yusuf Pathan and Shane Watson.

Prediction - 5th place

Delhi Daredevils - A top heavy line-up featuring ViruGambhir and David Warner, they have tried to strengthen the middle-order already comprising Dilshan, AB deVilliers, Manoj Tiwary and Dinesh Karthik by bringing in Paul Collingwood, Owais Shah and Andrew MacDonald. The bowling looks good, with the likes of Glenn McGrath and Daniel Vettori being supported by Yomahesh, Maharoof, Nehra, Mishra and maybe all-rounder Rajat Bhatia.

Prediction - Favourites

Chennai Super Kings - Despite their lame name, they have a great team on paper and a shrewd captain in Dhoni. Andrew Flintoff is obviously the man to watch out for, apart from barrel-chested Hayden, Ntini, smiling assassin Murali, odd-grinner Balaji, super-slogger Albie Morkel, Raina and the amazingly named Napoleon Einstein. I'm also waiting for that { c Dhoni b Gony } dismissal.

Prediction - Semis

That was part 1 of my series preview... part 2 comes out tomorrow! Stay tuned, or just come back when you feel like.

Now for today's matches -

Mumbai Indians v Chennai Super Kings - Indian's cricket's Midas pitted against its supreme being. Has to be a cracker! Sachin and Sanath can be as destructive as Sehwag and Gambhir, though are a generation older. If they fire, this match will be in the Mumbai Indian's pockets. Dhoni will fancy his team's chances, and their batting might may well get stuck into Mumbai's weakness - its bowling. Mumbai for the win.

Watch out for - Dhawal Kulkarni. Will he repeat his success away from home?

Rajasthan Royals v Bangalore Royal Challengers - This would have been a walkover for RR last season. But they are missing Sohail Tanvir, their strike bowler, and Bangalore now have Pieterson and Jesse Ryder, who can destroy any bowling attack on their day. I will go for BRC here.

Watch out for - Roelof van der Merwe. He's has a successful series against the Aussies, and could be the spin trump card for BRC.

That's it for today - give me your thoughts and predictions too! Feel free to mock me if I'm wrong.


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