IPL preview and predictions
Cape Town - It’s that time of year again, folks. The fifth edition of cricket’s glitziest tournament gets under way this Wednesday when two-time Indian Premier League champion Chennai Super Kings face the Mumbai Indians franchise in Chennai.
76 games await us; 72 in the group stage as the nine franchises face up to one another before Qualifier 1, the Eliminator, Qualifier 2 and then the final, in Chennai, on Sunday May 27. The tournament is organised to offer the top two sides from the group stage the best chance of reaching the final.
Who will win? Who should you be watching? Well, we’ve reached for the crystal ball and brought you our preview, predictions and players to watch.
Players to watch
The 24-year-old Cape Cobras star right-hand batsman shot from zero to hero in Hamilton this February when he smashed 117* from just 51 balls. That sort of innings catches the eye and he might be in line for a few appearances in the blue of Mumbai Indians as a result.
On his day, Morne’s brother can rival the biggest of hitters with the bat and provide a useful option with the ball. Whilst he’s never quite managed to live up to some of the hype that surrounded him early on in his career, he could still play a leading role in the smash and grab world of the IPL for Chennai Super Kings.
Predictions – the final four
Chennai Super Kings
Searching for an unprecedented third straight crown, MS Dhoni’s charges start as favourites. There are enough fireworks within the squad, married to experience and professionalism, to ensure that CSK will be there or thereabouts come the final reckoning.
Led by Harbhajan Singh and featuring a certain Sachin Tendulkar, MI are always contenders. This is a well-balanced squad that won the Champions League last year. With the likes of Herschelle Gibbs, Richard Levi, Lasith Malinga and Kieron Pollard, MI has a nicely rounded outfit.
Royal Challengers Bangalore:
2011’s runners up retain Daniel Vettori as skipper in a squad that oozes class. If only they could pick more than four foreigners in the starting XI... With Tillakaratne Dilshan and Chris Gayle opening, pyrotechnics are assured. The on-fire Virat Kohli adds depth to the batting along with AB de Villiers.
Kolkata Knight Riders:
Gautam Gambhir’s charges should pip Delhi Daredevils to fourth spot. Second IPL top scorer of all time Jacques Kallis, Brendon McCullum, Eoin Morgan, Brett Lee and Shakib Al Hasan are supported by James Pattinson, Marchant de Lange, Brad Haddin and Ryan ten Doeschate. They have the talent to be there until the end.
And the winners...
It’s hard to look beyond CSK and MI reaching the final (as in 2010) with CSK coming out on top (as in 2010). These are the two to beat without doubt, although RCB look best placed behind MI to break CSK’s recent dominance. I’m backing a third straight CSK win.
Good luck with your SuperBru picks this year - it’s never easy!
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