The cricket schedule is maxed out this year with a World Cup, an Ashes series, and four touring sides to England, but the IPL is the perfect place to get things started. Here is our look ahead to the world’s premier T20 tournament.

Mumbai Indians side with no English players in their title defence

There is no doubt about it that the Mumbai Indians are a team to be feared in this tournament having won the title five times, more than any other franchise, they know what it takes to win. It is no surprise then that they head into this year’s IPL as the 5/2 favourites, however, there could be value elsewhere especially when considering that the Mumbai side haven’t selected an English player in their squad.

England are the current no.1 ranked T20 side in the world and the list of talent they have individually is second to none. In total 14 English players have understandably decided to miss the start of the County Championships through the chilly months of April and May to instead pick up the big bucks in the IPL. The Mumbai Indians have a serious side, there is no debating that, their side is headed up by some of the stand-out stars of the Indian national side which includes Rohit Sharma, who is 9/1 to be the leading tournament run scorer, Jasprit Bumrah, and the Pandya brothers. Not to mention the overseas talent of Quinton de Kock, Trent Boult, and Jimmy Neesham. They are an experienced outfit both on and off the field, however, one side that can give them real cause for concern is the Delhi Capitals.

With three English players at their disposals the Delhi Capitals have a real opportunity to upset the favourites in this year’s IPL, priced at 9/2 they offer a bit more value but should be no less competitive with a real depth to their squad. Last year they went one better than their 2019 third place finish by narrowly missing out to Mumbai in the final and they will be hopeful they can go one better this time around. Spearheading Delhi’s attack are stalwarts of the Indian side including Ravi Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, and Rishabh Pant, who it has to be said would be capable of walking into most T20 sides around the world. Joining the Capitals from overseas are some big Australian names in Steve Smith and Marcus Stoinis alongside South African Kagiso Rabada. Although the Capitals have three Englishmen in their ranks, they could all be justifiably described as some of the weaker players England had to offer, and it will be unlikely that appearances for Tom Curran, Sam Billings, and Chris Woakes will be made on selection merit rather than rotation and injury.

Captain Pant certainly has the quality at his disposal to bring a first IPL title back to Delhi, and if that does happen the 20/1 available for him to be leading run scorer could look quite a large price come the final.

So where can the English superstars be found?

The Rajasthan Royals were not shy with their cheque book when it came to the English stars at the auction, they spent a combined £2,350,000 on England’s three biggest superstars. Lining up for the Royals will be Joffra Archer, Ben Stokes, and Jos Butler, all independent game-changers in their own right they will be a force to be reckoned with when combining their efforts as they usually do for England. However, Archer is due to miss the first four games of the tournament at least having undergone surgery on his hand and an injection into his reoccurring elbow problem. This will be a huge blow for Sanju Samson’s side but Archer will be keen to keep his T20 stock at a high-price on his return to action and is more than capable of making up for the lost time. At a price of 9/1 it is not beyond the imagination to see the Royals replicate their 2008 finish and be crowned champions once again.

In action elsewhere in the tournament will be England’s One-Day captain Eoin Morgan as he captains the Kolkata Knight Riders with the assistance of coach Brendon McCullum. They both know a fair bit about winning strategies and could be a team to keep on the right side of as they head into the tournament at 7/1.

All eyes will be on the superstar of India, the captain of the Royal Challengers Bangalore, Virat Kohli. The 32-year-old has scored 5,878 runs in the IPL to date and shows no signs of slowing down on the back of an impressive T20 series against England. In last year’s tournament the Indian captain averaged 42 at a strike rate of 121 and his presence will be feared more than any other, it is no surprise to see him lead the chances of the tournaments leading run scorer at 6/1.

The one thing that is guaranteed in the IPL is non-stop entertainment, and with 60 games coming up over the next few weeks and the world’s best in action, that is certain to happen.

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