Home Sports The Indian Premier League is back: What are the main talking points? | Cricket News

The Indian Premier League is back: What are the main talking points? | Cricket News

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The Indian Premier League is back: What are the main talking points? | Cricket News

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The 17th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) — world cricket’s largest T20 tournament — begins on Friday, March 22, with the defending champion Chennai Super Kings hosting the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

The tournament fields 10 teams packed with many of the greatest players from around the globe.

While the prize money for this year’s IPL has not been confirmed by organisers, and if previous years are anything to go by, the IPL purse this time around is expected to be around $6m, with the winning team collecting approximately $2.4m.

1. Can Virat Kohli finally capture the one major title that has alluded him?

Virat Kohli is a player who has won just about everything there is to win in world cricket — except an IPL title.

The Indian batsman has played in all 16 IPL seasons for Royal Challengers Bangalore, agonisingly finishing tournament runners-up in 2009, 2011 and 2016. He is the all-time leading run-scorer in IPL history.

With Kohli skipping the recent home series against England for personal reasons, some believe the clock is also ticking on the 35-year-old’s IPL career — could 2024 be the iconic batsman’s final season?

This year’s event represents one of the best opportunities for Kohli to win the IPL. He is joined in the 2024 Bangalore squad by the formidable Aussie talents of Glenn Maxwell and Cameron Green, South African captain Faf du Plessis and fast-bowling Indian teammate Mohammed Siraj.

An IPL crown for Kohli would be a perfect final chapter to the career of one the greatest cricket players ever.

Royal Challengers Bangalore's Virat Kohli tosses the ball after taking the catch of Lucknow Super Giants' Ayush Badoni.
Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Virat Kohli tosses the ball after taking the catch of Lucknow Super Giants’ Ayush Badoni during the Indian Premier League in 2023 [Surjeet Yadav/AP Photo]

2. Will Mitchell Starc live up to that record contract?

Aussie quick Mitchell Starc made headlines last December when he obliterated the IPL auction record, becoming the most expensive player purchase of all time at $2.98m.

Starc, 34, was auctioned off to the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) as the centrepiece of their 2024 IPL season campaign. The left-arm paceman averages an impressive 23 for his bowling career in T20s with 74 wickets in 60 T20 internationals.

But the left-arm paceman last played in the IPL in 2015 and has a long, injury-riddled history with the IPL.

He missed the tournament in 2016 because of a foot fracture. In 2018, Starc signed for the Kolkata for big money – but was injured again and never played for the team. In 2022, he also pulled out, citing “[COVID-19] bubble fatigue”.

In 2024, Kolkata will be hoping that Starc can deliver them their first IPL title in 10 years. If the big Australian stays healthy, few bowlers in world cricket can statistically impact a contest more than Starc.

Australia's Mitchell Starc bowls a delivery during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup final match between Australia and India in 2023.
Australia’s Mitchell Starc bowls a delivery during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup final match between Australia and India in 2023 [Mahesh Kumar A/AP Photo]

3. Why is the Indian election delaying the full schedule launch of IPL 2024?

The nearly two-month-long tournament will begin on Friday, March 22. Last month, organisers only announced a partial schedule for the first 21 fixtures until April 7 as the dates of India’s upcoming general election had not been announced at the time.

Issues related to the management, adequate policing and security of the tournament whilst the country goes to polls are understood to be behind the curtailed schedule announcement.

The election schedule was announced last week, with the polls running from April 19 to June 4, and IPL organisers are expected to release the dates of the remaining fixtures in the next few days.

After the election, it is expected that organisers will have to play catch-up on the IPL tournament schedule with possible three-a-day matches slated on some days.

It is anticipated the IPL will finish in late May, which places it very close to the adjacent ICC T20 World Cup that begins on 1 June in the USA and West Indies.

A police officer briefs colleagues on the eve of the first Twenty20 cricket match between India and Australia, in Mohali, India in 2022.
A police officer briefs colleagues on the eve of the first T20 cricket match between India and Australia, in Mohali, India in 2022 [Manish Swarup/AP Photo]

4. Can 42-year-old MS Dhoni defy Father Time (again) to deliver Chennai a repeat title?

No player has the Midas touch at the IPL quite like MS Dhoni.

The evergreen Indian wicketkeeper-batsman has won the tournament a record five times in 2010, 2011, 2018, 2021 and 2023.

Rumours are circulating that the 2024 IPL will be his final go-around in the lucrative competition — but we have heard those rumours before. Incredibly, Dhoni has not played a single professional game since the Super Kings defeated the Gujarat Titans in the IPL 2023 final 10 months ago.

If Dhoni is to bring Chennai another title this year, he will certainly have a strong arsenal of players to do it: Ravindra Jadeja, Daryl Mitchell and Moeen Ali headline an impressively credentialed Super Kings outfit.

If Dhoni does clinch a sixth IPL title, it will add to the already remarkable legacy of a player who has experienced an unprecedented second cricketing career peak as an IPL winner, to go along with his hugely successful Indian international career that ended in 2017.

If this is indeed his career farewell, Dhoni —one of India’s all-time favourite cricketers — can expect incredible support throughout the country during the IPL.

Chennai Super Kings' captain MS Dhoni collects the ball during the Indian Premier League.
Chennai Super Kings’ captain MS Dhoni collects the ball during the Indian Premier League cricket match between Lucknow Super Giants and Chennai Super Kings in 2023 [Surjeet Yadav/AP Photo]

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