- TATA Indian Premier League 16
- Friday March 31 - Sunday May 28, 2023
- Across 12 venues, from Chennai to Dharamsala
Few would have predicted the Gujarat Titans winning last year’s IPL in their first year as a franchise, them beating inaugural winners Rajasthan Royals in the final.
Can they justify favouritism with the bookmakers this time around and go back-to-back? Hardik Pandya’s men are 11/2 with a host of companies to do so.
The Titans are actually one of only two out of 10 franchises with no England players in their squad. Kolkata Knight Riders are the other.
There are just top side of a dozen English players involved at the IPL, though not all will stay the full duration given England start their summer international programme on June 1 with a Test Match against Ireland at Lord’s.
Test captain Ben Stokes is likely to return home early should his Chennai Super Kings progress beyond the group stages, which finish on May 21. To be honest, I’m not so sure they will.
Some Mumbai magic is long overdue
I really like the look of the Mumbai Indians squad, boosted by the return of Jofra Archer, who missed last year’s event through injury.
Archer, Rohit Sharma and co are 7/1 with Ladbrokes to win their sixth title and first since 2020, and if they did that they would have gone from bottom of the table last year to top this.
Names such as Archer, Rohit, Tim David, Cameron Green, Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan jump out at you straightaway, and then you have South African trio Dewald Brevis, Duan Jansen - Marco’s brother - and Tristan Stubbs.
They even have Sachin Tendulkar’s son, Arjun, on their roster once again, though he is yet to debut.
The only area of their squad which looks light is spin bowling.
But it is reasonable to expect an upturn for a side who only won four out of 14 matches last term and were dogged by a series of underperforming players.
No batter reached 400 runs, Sharma failed to score a fifty in 14 outings and only two bowlers reached double figures wickets wise. I would also be taking the 10/3 bet365 are offering on them to reach the final.
There are a number of teams you could make a case for.
I’m really not sure about Chennai Super Kings or the Kolkata Knight Riders, but success for any of the others wouldn’t amaze me.
For example, I don’t think Sunrisers Hyderabad warrant being the competition’s outsiders at 12/1.
I’m not sure they will win it, but they look strong with the ball and I could see Harry Brook’s new team having a dart at a top four finish for Finals cricket.
They will be outsiders for a number of the early games, and I think it’s worth giving them a chance when backing match winners.
Gill will have his fill
Shubman Gill is India’s man of the moment, the Gujarat Titans youngster who has scored centuries in Test, ODI and T20 cricket in his last 10 internationals.
In January, the opener also scored an ODI double century at home against New Zealand.
In last year’s IPL, the 23-year-old scored 483 runs and was in the top five leading run-scorers in the competition. I expect him to shine again and will be one of two picks for tournament top run-scorer.
First, I like the look of the 6/4 on offer with Betway on Gill to score 500 plus tournament runs.
Sticking with Gujarat and Betway specials. They are also offering 5/2 on Rashid Khan to take 20 plus wickets in the tournament. He claimed 19 last year and has taken 112 in six seasons overall. There is no doubt the Afghanistan leg-spinner is a bowling superstar and that is a decent price.
Gill is 9/1 with Betfair to be the top tournament run-scorer.
Prince Harry to settle in like a dream
For me, Harry Brook is the best batter in the world at present. He would be the first name on my team sheet in any format of the game.
His form for Yorkshire and England over the last 12 months has been ridiculous, and I think he justifies Betfair’s favouritism to be Sunrisers Hyderabad’s leading tournament run-scorer at 3/1.
If they get into the finals, he may have to come home early for England duty. But he could have it sewn up by then.
Brook is also my second top tournament run-scorer selection at 25/1. I would be spreading my stakes between him and Gill.
Kolkata to be kings? Not for me
Bet365 have opened up an outright market on who will finish bottom of the group stage table this year, and I think it will be a fight between Kolkata Knight Riders and the Chennai Super Kings, who are second and third favourites for the wooden spoon behind Sunrisers.
I would be favouring KKR, who finished seventh last year with six wins from 14 to be bottom this time at 5/1 as their squad doesn’t fill me with any kind of confidence. In the likes of Sunil Narine, David Wiese, Shakib Al Hasan and even Andre Russell, they have some ageing talent.
Their captain Shreyas Iyer, a batter with injury issues in the last couple of years - Lancashire fans will know that all too well - is a doubt for at least the first half of the competition due to a back issue. A bulging disc and surgery have been talked of. Not good.
Runs, runs, runs and six-hitters can make it legs 11
We are seeing more and more runs in T20 cricket - the bar continues to be raised.
Look at the T20 clash between South Africa and the West Indies at Centurion on Sunday, for example, when the latter racked up 258-5 and the former chased it down to win by six wickets with seven balls to spare.
Betfair are offering 5/1 on there to be just one match with an aggregate of 475 runs and 7/1 on just one match to see 500 scored. Surely, in an 80-game competition, that has every chance of landing.
It surprises me that only 10 batters in first-team international and domestic cricket have hit six sixes across all formats in the history of the game.
Sir Garfield Sobers, Ravi Shastri, Herschelle Gibbs, Yuvraj Singh, Ross Whiteley, Hazratullah Zazai, Leo Carter, Kieron Pollard, Thisara Perera and Jaskaran Malhotra.
With the power of players, quality of equipment, often size of boundaries and just purely the amount of T20 cricket played, you’d think it would happen more often in the modern game.
With that in mind, I’d be willing - for small stakes - to have a dabble on the 16/1 bet365 are offering on that feat to be achieved during this IPL, taking that number to 11.
*Betting odds correct at the time of publication. All odds are subject to changes.
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