The eleventh edition of the world’s most lucrative domestic cricket tournament, the Indian Premier League, is all set to begin. As it steps into its eleventh chapter, it’s probably stronger than ever. The poster boys of the tournament – Chennai Super Kings are back, as are the inaugural champions, Rajasthan Royals.
The wait is finally over as arguably the most-celebrated franchise of the tournament marks a fresh guard after spending time on the sidelines following a suspension handed out over the betting charges against their team principal Gurunath Meiyappan. If one thought there could be some love lost in these two years, videos of CSK’s practice sessions playing out in front of a 15,000-strong crowd dispelled any notion of a concern. Although the Chennai-based franchise might have lost out to Mumbai Indians who bagged their third crown last season in the title race, they have left no stone unturned in maintaining their heart-to-heart connect with the populace. The city’s Thala, MS Dhoni, was retained as the leader and so was the core – Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Suresh Raina and Faf du Plessis – along with him. Only time will tell if CSK can be once again be a force to reckon with, but there’s little doubt that the sea of yellow and their whistles in tow will make their return a memorable affair.
Like CSK, RR are also returning, who were out with similar charges placed against co-owner Raj Kundra. But even before they make a return, they have been dealt with a body blow in the form of a ban spelt out to their original skipper Steven Smith in the wake of the infamous ball-tampering saga. However, they wouldn’t let that steal their thunder as there are no few fortresses as strongly built as Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur – the best venue for any home side with RR enjoying a win-loss ratio of 2.67, the highest for any team. So if the whistles ring loud in Chepauk, there will be no less Halla in Jaipur.