The wait seemed almost endless but it’s finally here. The 12th edition of the Indian Premier League gets underway on Saturday and, once we’ve got the opening ceremony out of the way, the fixture list could not have started with a bigger game.
Defending champions the Chennai Super Kings host Royal Challengers Bangalore with some of the biggest names in world cricket on show. MS Dhoni faces off against Virat Kohli in the battle of India’s most recent captains, so whatever you do, don’t miss it.
The big news ahead of the tournament concerns the fixtures that have finally been confirmed in full. Only the first two weeks of games had initially been listed but teams now know what’s in store across the entire campaign.
The Indian general elections have been responsible for the delay. There had been some early speculation that some matches would have to be played outside of the country and while we suspected this wouldn’t be the case, it’s good to have this point confirmed.
Over the next week, all eight franchises will be in action: It’s a long tournament but a fast start is desirable in terms of sealing a knockout place so let’s see what’s in store over the next seven days.
Chennai Super Kings vs Royal Challengers Bangalore is a battle between two giants of Indian domestic cricket. They may not have won the IPL in 11 previous attempts but RCB will always travel with a strong side. Waiting to host them is a CSK team who are defending champions and will field most of the squad that won the trophy 12 months ago.
We’ve a tight betting market for this one: Chennai are the favorites at -125 while the Royals Challengers are listed at +100. T20 cricket is volatile but in this case, we think the bookmakers have called it correctly.
A devastating innings from either Virat Kohli or AB De Villiers can turn this match RCB’s way but the Super Kings have greater batting depth and they should come through. RCB’s bowling also looks vulnerable this year and they rely too much on Yuzvendra Chahal for their wickets.
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On Sunday, Kolkata Knight Riders host the Sunrisers Hyderabad in what will be another huge clash. Sunrisers are the narrow favorites to win their second IPL title while KKR are always strong and will be confident of making the playoffs at the very least.
Once again, this could go either way and some sportsbooks list both teams at the same win price. We suspect that KKR’s big hitters at the top of the order will decide it so we’ll go with the hosts at -125 as opposed to Hyderabad at +100. Chris Lynn and his pinch-hitting opening partner Sunil Narine are the key wickets if SRH are to prove us wrong.
Sunday also gives us our first chance to be entertained by the new-look Delhi Capitals. The owners are hoping that a change of name will bring a change in fortunes and we’ll get an early indication when Delhi takes on a strong Mumbai Indians side at the Wankhede Stadium.
We think that Rajasthan Royals may just surprise a few people by going a long way this season. They are just sixth favorites to win the IPL but they have world-class overseas picks plus a strong domestic roster.
The Royals begin their campaign on Monday with a home tie against Kings XI Punjab, who made a strong start last season before fading badly at the end of the groups. KXIP could struggle again this year and, if our instincts are correct, Ajinkya Rahane, Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and the rest will power Rajasthan to victory at odds of -149.
IPL betting markets for the remainder of the week will start to come through as the early games are decided. The action resumes on Tuesday when Delhi Capitals host Chennai Super Kings with CSK looking to either build on early momentum or recover and take it out on one of the weaker teams in the tournament.
Delhi will always cause some upsets along the way but they also provide a good opportunity for their opponents to pick up early points.
Week 1 of the 2019 Indian Premier League concludes with Kolkata Knight Riders taking on Kings XI Punjab. It’s their second home game in succession so KKR will need to take full advantage while they are in front of a noisy Eden Gardens crowd.
We’ve a fascinating week ahead so enjoy the action and join us again in seven days’ time when we will look ahead to the important clashes in Week 2.
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