We are now just days away from the start of the 2017 Indian Premier League and all eyes are on the subcontinent the world’s most talented stars gear up for the lucrative competition. England star Ben Stokes was the most expensive player in the auction, so it will be interesting to see if he lives up to the hype, while top Indians like Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni will also be in action. The T20 tournament runs from April 5 to May 21, and after a 56-game league there will be a playoff before the final is held in Hyderabad. Here we take a look at some of the leading contenders and their chances of winning the big prize:
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Last year’s runners-up are hoping to go one better in 2017 after snapping up England’s T20 specialist Tymal Mills for £1.4 million, the second largest fee after the £1.7 million spent by Rising Pune Supergiants on Stokes. RCB’s squad is outrageously talented, featuring the likes of Kohli, AB De Villiers, Shane Watson and Chris Gayle, and they deserve to be favourites. If you take a look at bookmaker, they have odds for cricket and the betting lines show that RCB are out in front. They have seen most of the action and gone in from 4/1 to 7/2, but that still looks a good price on a great team, even if RCB may miss Kohli at the start due to injury.
The odds on the Indians have also gone out from 9/2 to 11/2 but they still look a strong team. It was a surprise not to see them make the playoffs last year as they have been one of the most successful teams in IPL history and have won it twice. They bid for Stokes, Mills, Trent Boult and Rashid Khan in a bid to improve their 2017 chances and were unsuccessful each time, but did land Mitchell Johnson and Asela Gunaratne. Instability in the middle order could be a problem, but they have a great top order and an abundance of top bowlers, so they should at least make the playoffs and will be a threat.
The defending champions are bound to be a force to be reckoned with and look a good price at 13/2, although they are not seeing much action from the betting public. That is despite them retaining the majority of the team that won it last year, including Ben Cutting, the man of the match in the final against RCB, Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, David Warner, Kane Williamson and Yuvraj Singh. Again, they look a little light beyond the top order, but should be in the playoffs.
The Lions went from 8/1 into 6/1 after signing Jason Roy to complement a team already looking strong with the likes of Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, James Faulkner, Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Bravo, Aaron Finch, Dwayne Smith, Dinesh Karthik and Praveen Kumar. They have since drifted back out to 7/1 and they lack strength in depth, so that may be best avoided.
Rising Pune Supergiants
RPS are the most expensively assembled franchise after signing Stokes and making Steve Smith their captain, while they have a great spinner in R Ashwin. Bowling overall is a bit of a worry for the Supergiants, but they have Dhoni and Ravi Ashwin and look interesting at 7/1.
Kolkata Knight Riders
The Delhi Daredevils and Kings Punjab XI look as though they will struggle to make the playoffs, but the Knight Riders look a strong outside bet at 8/1. They have also won this competition twice previously and brought in Trent Boult, Chris Woakes, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Darren Bravo to join Gautam Gambhir, Sunil Narine, Shakib Al Hasan, Chris Lynn, Yusuf Pathan and Andrew Russell, forming a very competitive team with a reliable opening pair and a solid middle order that could help them go far in the IPL this year.