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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Expect fireworks despite long injury lists as IPL 10 takes off

Expect fireworks despite long injury lists as IPL 10 takes off

April 04, 2017 13:22 IST

RCB players celebrate

IMAGE: The runners-up of IPL 9, RCB will start the early part of this season without the services of star batsmen Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. Photograph: BCCI

The 10th edition of the Indian Premier League that commences in Hyderabad on Wednesday will see a host of big players sit out with injuries, even as the fans of the game witnessed an administrative tug-of-war over funds in the run-up to the cash-rich tournament.

A clutch of Indian stars led by India and Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli are either sidelined or ruled out of this edition of the tournament, lessening the wow factor of the IPL.

Even off the field, the run-up to the tournament has been far from smooth. Several state units had expressed their inability to conduct matches, citing lack of funds, before the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators stepped in to resolve the matter.

The COA will have the onerous job of keeping an eye on officials to ensure that no such teething troubles crop up during the tournament.

On to the cricketing front, an update on Kohli’s injury will only be known next week as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury.

Kohli had accumulated nearly 1000 runs last season and each of his four hundreds were T20 master-classes.

Another big name to be missing from early action is Kohli’s RCB teammate, South African swashbuckler AB de Villiers. Nursing a back injury, there is no clarity on his availability just yet.

England quickie Tymal Mills during an RCB training session 

IMAGE: England quickie Tymal Mills during an RCB training session. Photograph: RCB/Twitter

Till the likes of Kohli and De Villiers return, the onus of providing perfect "cricketainment" will lie with someone who responds to the name of Christopher Henry Gayle.

If Gayle comes good, RCB will again have a feast.

There will be curiosity regarding what T20 specialist, England’s Tymal Mills -- bought for Rs 12 crore -- will bring to the table and how stand-in captain Shane Watson uses him.

Sport needs characters and cricket even more so.

Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin's absence from Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) squad means there would a bit less colour on the field.

A combative cricketer like Ashwin, whose multi-dimensional ability makes him special even though there were doubts about how much he could have contributed after bowling nearly 740 overs.

But all eyes will be on Ben Stokes, bought for Rs 14.5 crore by Pune. Each ball that the 'Big Ben' bowls and each run he scores will be equated with his pay package.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni has no such worries apart from proving a point with his blazing blade that he still has plenty to offer to Indian cricket.

Also before he returns to his spiritual home in Chennai, the former India captain won't mind winning another IPL trophy albeit with different teams.

Steve Smith and Faf du Plessis were both injured during the last season but would like to make amends in this edition.

Thangarasu Natarajan enjoyed a successful stint for Dindigul Dragons in the inaugural Tamil Nadu Premier League and will be one to watch out for in the IPL

IMAGE: Thangarasu Natarajan enjoyed a successful stint for Dindigul Dragons in the inaugural Tamil Nadu Premier League and will be one to watch out for in the IPL. Photograph: Twitter

For the hugely popular Mumbai Indians, skipper Rohit Sharma's form at the top will be important not only for his franchise but also for the Indian team that will defend the Champions Trophy in the United Kingdom.

Jos Buttler's big hits and Harbhajan Singh's guile also makes them the team that they are.

Kolkata Knight Riders will depend a lot on their quartet of Indian batsmen, including skipper Gautam Gambhir, Surya Kumar Yadav, Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey.

A barely consistent Yusuf Pathan would also look to make his presence felt.

Andre Russell's one year ban has affected the composition of the side, but Chris Woakes and Trent Boult are expected to be used a lot on seamer-friendly tracks till Umesh Yadav is back in action.

Kings XI Punjab would miss Murali Vijay but Glenn Maxwell, after a few indifferent knocks last season, may just tee off well.

The flashy Manan Vohra, talented Marcus Stoinis and the ever-dependable Wriddhiman Saha will form the core of their batting under Virender Sehwag's mentorship.

This year, a surprise rookie pick Thangarasu Natarajan will be itching to bowl his cutters too.

For Gujarat Lions captain Suresh Raina, this season will be a make or break one after being dropped from the one-day squad and central contracts. Till Ravindra Jadeja is absent, Dwayne Bravo will have to take more responsibility as an all-founder.

Defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad's captain David Warner was one of the leading run-getters last season

IMAGE: Defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad's captain David Warner was one of the leading run-getters last season. Photograph: BCCI

The Delhi Daredevils, after making some inexplicable choices and some injury setbacks, are the weakest team in the competition.

Quinton de Kock's absence is going to hurt them badly as mentor Rahul Dravid has already pointed out. They would depend on their band of speed merchants, including the wily Zaheer Khan, Mohammed Shami, Chris Morris, Pat Cummins and Kagiso Rabada.

On a slow Kotla track, Amit Mishra could prove to be the trump card.

But it's the batting that will hurt them most with Karun Nair, Rishabh Pant, and Shreyas Iyer not consistent enough.

Last but not the least are defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad with David Warner at the helm.

The core remains the same. Yuvraj Singh, Deepak Hooda and Shikhar Dhawan are capable of changing the course of the match. When fully fit, Ashish Nehra and Mustafizur Rahaman can prove to be a handful.

From Brendon McCullum's 158 on the opening night nine seasons ago to Lalit Modi and spot-fixing sagas, the league has seen unbelievable highs and abysmal lows.

Only the next month-and-a-half will give us a glimpse of what season 10 culminates into.

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