With a new title sponsor and two recently formed franchises, the Indian Premier League (IPL) is all set to roll out its ninth edition with defending champions Mumbai Indians locking horns with newbies Rising Pune Supergiants.
It has not even been a week since Carlos Brathwaite smashed four consecutive sixes against England to help West Indies lift the World Twenty20 title at the Eden Gardens and another cricket league is here again. However, given the overdose of cricket these days, this comes as no surprise.
At Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium , Mahendra Singh Dhoni will lead a new franchise for the first time in nine years and Mumbai Indians will be wary of the Indian skipper’s crafty leadership and will not want to yield an inch. It will be big test for the home side they have had a history of getting off to poor starts. And have lost many matches in the beginning only to bounce back later. So pressure will be on them to break the jinx.
Mumbai have roped in Jos Buttler and Tim Southee to bolster their firepower. They have more or less retained the same squad which helped them lift the trophy last year.
They have also retained the services of West Indies opener Lendl Simmons and New Zealand all-rounder Mitchell McCleneghan. Mumbai will once again be led by Rohit Sharma, who had captained the team to success in 2013 and 2015.
Besides Dhoni, Pune have acquired the services of Ajinkya Rahane, Australia captain Steve Smith, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and England veteran Kevin Pietersen who can scorch this edition of IPL.
Newcomers Gujarat Lions have also built a formidable squad which can surprise the best in the business. Led by Suresh Raina, the outfit boasts of big names like Brendon McCullum, Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo. The side owned by Intex technologies will play five of their home matches at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium.
Delhi Daredevils, meanwhile, let go of their star player Yuvraj Singh and paid a whopping Rs.4.2 crore to have Brathwaite on board. The outfit will be hoping that the all-rounder from Barbados will do justice to his price tag.
Two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have also opted for only a few changes to their squad. All-rounder Colin Munro and Jason Holder have made their way into the team, which also boasts of Indian talents like Manish Pandey and Robin Uthappa.
It comes as a surprise that a powerful team like the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have never managed to win the trophy. They have a strong squad this time as well. Boosting their firepower further will be Australian all-rounder Shane Watson. They have retained match winners like Chris Gayle and A.B. De Villiers who on their day can destroy a bowling line-up.
Kings XI Punjab have decided to rely on local talent this season. They have declared South African David Miller as captain and will hope the young side will deliver when it comes to crunch games.
Sunrisers Hyderabad have bagged Yuvraj, along with veteran pacer Ashish Nehra and Bangladesh fast bowler Mustafizur Rahman. The latter has been successful in these conditions and all eyes will be on him as he takes the field wearing the bright orange jersey.
Vivo mobile paid Rs 160 crore to bag the title sponsorship for IPL 2016 and 2017. The controversies and betting scandals that has been dogging the cash rich league since 2013 prompted Pepsi, the earlier title sponsor to back out. But this did not deter the Chinese handset maker, which paid a premium of Rs 20 crores to replace the food and beverage giant.
Its not only the Chinese firm, but a large number of advertisers have earmarked a good portion of their marketing war chest for IPL. The homegrown cricketing bonanza has often been likened to Super Bowl, the National Football League in the US. The riveting annual championship sees several brands debuting their new campaigns during the season.
Sony, the official broadcaster of the tournament expects to rake in Rs 1200 crore in revenues, a spurt of 15 to 20 compared to last year.
Sony has hiked its ad rates and a 10-second ad spot now will cost anywhere between Rs 5.50 lakh and Rs 5.75 lakh.
For the first time since the IPL begain in 2008, Sony officials have claimed that they have sold out all ad inventories, two months before the start of the tournament which runs from April 9 to May 29. (IANS)