Just a couple of weeks on from the thrills and spills of the World Cup, the IPL is back for an eighth season which promises to be better than ever.
As the video below shows, England cricket legend and Unibet ambassador Graeme Swann is looking forward to start of the tournament, and here he shares his views ahead of what promises to be six weeks of intense competition.
Brendon McCullum Will Be Chennai’s Super King
Once again at the start of the tournament we’re all looking at the quality of Brendon McCullum, who was superb for New Zealand at the World Cup and will be leading the charge for the Chennai Super Kings – who are the tournament favourites at 3.65 and also my tip to win it.
With the likes of MS Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo and Dwayne Smith on board, Chennai have got great quality with the bat, and with McCullum proving what he can do in the longer form of the game then he’ll be looking to keep up his great record in the IPL.
But The Royal Challengers Bangalore Will Provide A Starc Test
Probably the one man who got the better of McCullum at the World Cup was Mitchell Starc, who memorably dismissed him in the first over in the final and will be leading the attack for second favourites the Royal Challengers Bangalore – who are at 4.25.
One challenge that Starc and his fellow bowlers will face in India is the fact that the grounds are so much smaller, and one ball of your 10-over spell can be so crucial to deciding a game.
The good news for him is that he’s got Chris Gayle on his side. He’s got an amazing record in the IPL and as he saw from his double hundred at World Cup he’s still as good to watch as anyone in world cricket.
The Sunrisers Can Shine
One team a little lower down in the betting that could impress are the Sunrisers Hyderabad, who despite having quietly assembled a good team are still available at a pretty long 10.00 to win the tournament.
On paper, any side with Shikar Dhawan, David Warner, Kane Williamson and Eoin Morgan in it are going to be able to post more than a few good scores, and I think Morgan will be due some good performances following the disappointments of the World Cup. He’s perfect for the IPL, and I hope he can show it here.
Mumbai A Little Long In The Tooth
The side with perhaps the greatest experience in the competition are probably the Mumbai Indians, who have Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh in their attack and are available at 10.00 to win.
This is a long competition and once you get on a roll you really can beat anyone, but to me they don’t quite look as strong as the other teams and so that experience may count for little.
Having said that about the Mumbai Indians, I think their batsman Rohit Sharma has a really good chance of impressing in this competition.
He had a good World Cup, scoring 330 runs at an average of 47.14, and he’s made for IPL cricket, scoring 21 half centuries in his seven seasons. He’s at 17.00 to be the top batsman in IPL 8, and a very tempting 5.00 to come in the top five.
Of course having already mentioned McCullum we have to give a nod to him too. He’s at 21.00 and 6.00.
The IPL is difficult for bowlers, but I’m going to back Dale Steyn to bounce back front that World Cup semi-final disappointment with South Africa and take the most wickets at 26.00, or 7.00 for a place in the top five.
I know after the staggering success of my hat-trick tip at the World Cup – I can’t still believe Finny got one so soon! – you’ll be waiting for a good side bet, but with the hat-trick on offer at 1.43 I want something with a little longer odds this time.
I think the World Cup proved to everyone that scores which used to be considered ‘traditionally’ good need to be improved upon now, and I think we’ll see that move into the Twenty20 game, too.
Given the small grounds, teams will think that 200 is possible, and so we could see some very big scores.
It’s 1.85 that we see over 90.5 fifties in this season’s tournament, and 2.00 that we get over 5.5 centuries.