The shortest format of the game, T20, seems to be the flavour in India at present. After the highly-entertaining World T20 came to an end earlier this month, the action shifts to the lucrative Indian Premier League 2016 (IPL 2016), and the ninth edition of the competition is expected to be another mighty extravaganza, with some brilliant cricket for 50 days.
With players such as Chris Gayle, David Miller, AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn, Brendon McCullum among the top international cricketers, and Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuvraj Singh being big India names, there are plenty of things to look forward in IPL 2016.
Cricket viewers around the world love to see huge scores, with flurry of fours and sixes as has been witnessed in the past editions of the IPL. Fans should not be disappointed in IPL 2016 as it comprises best batsmen from around the world.
However, the shortest format of the game has evolved in the last couple of years. Initially, it was only thought to be a batsman's game, but bowlers have also gradually understood the format, helping them become successful as well. It is this increasing balance between the bat and ball, which has made the IPL even more interesting. In some of the slower tracks in India, the spinners might rule the roost.
Though the IPL 2016 will not witness past champion teams like Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals for the next two years as they have been suspended, Gujarat Lions and Rising Pune Supergiants have replaced the two teams. MS Dhoni will captain Pune, and Suresh Raina will lead Gujarat.
Both the teams have some brilliant players in their respective teams, and are expected to play an important role in IPL 2016. Pune have players like Kevin Pietersen, Steve Smith and Mitchell Marsh, while Gujarat have Dwayne Bravo, Brendon McCullum and Dale Steyn. It would be very difficult to predict about the outcome for the two teams, but one thing is for sure that they have the required ammunition to create a storm in IPL 2016.
However, Mumbai Indians have always been a strong team in the competition, and it goes without saying that the present team led by Rohit Sharma are a team to watch out for. If players like Kieron Pollard and Rohit perform like last season, Mumbai might become the first team to win the IPL three times since the inaugural edition in 2008.
Besides the defending champions, Royal Challengers Bangalore, who have an array of stars like Kohli, Gayle and de Villiers in their team, can tear apart any bowling attack, and are from the most dangerous batting line up in IPL 2016. Though Mitchell Starc has been ruled out of the competition, Kane Richardson and Adam Milne will play an important role with the ball.
RCB have always been a strong team, but it has been rather surprising that the team has failed to win a single IPL title. Will 2016 be their year? Kings XI also falls in the same bracket, without a single IPL title. They also have a decent side this season, and will be keen to win their first IPL title in 2016.
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Delhi Daredevils (DD) might not have an array of stars like other teams such as RCB and Mumbai Indians, but make no mistake, KKR and DD have players who can deliver at the big stage. Kolkata will primarily depend on skipper Gautam Gambhir, Andre Russell, Morne Morkel and Colin Munro while Delhi have the services of Zaheer Khan, JP Duminy, Quinton de Kock and Carlos Brathwaite.
Sunrisers Hyderabad have played in the last three edition of the IPL, but are yet to reach the finals. It would not be wrong to say that they are the dark horses of the tournament as they have some brilliant players, who have proved themselves in international cricket. Eoin Morgan, David Warner, Kane Williamson and Shikhar Dhawan will need to shine for the Sunrisers to fight against some of the best teams in the competition.
As always, some of the teams are extremely strong with brilliant players in their squad, but the IPL 2016 is an open tournament. It can be anybody's game despite some teams being tagged as favourites. The team, which plays consistent cricket throughout the season, will have a greater chance of winning the title.
IPL 2016 complete schedule
|Saturday||9.4.16||8.00 PM||1||Mumbai Indians vs Rising Pune Supergiants||Mumbai|
|Sunday||10.4.46||8.00 PM||2||Kolkata Knight Riders vs Delhi Daredevils||Kolkata|
|Monday||11.4.16||8.00 PM||3||Kings XI Punjab vs Gujarat Lions||Mohali|
|Tuesday||12.4.16||8.00 PM||4||Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Sunrisers Hyderabad||Bengaluru|
|Wednesday||13.4.16||8.00 PM||5||Kolkata Knight Riders vs Mumbai Indians||Kolkata|
|Thursday||14.4.16||8.00 PM||6||Gujarat Lions vs Rising Pune Supergiants||Rajkot|
|Friday||15.4.16||8.00 PM||7||Delhi Daredevils vs Kings XI Punjab||Delhi|
|Saturday||16.4.16||4.00 PM||8||Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Kolkata Knight Riders||Hyderabad|
|Saturday||16.4.16||8.00 PM||9||Mumbai Indians vs Gujarat Lions||Mumbai|
|Sunday||17.4.16||4.00 PM||10||Kings XI Punjab vs Rising Pune Supergiants||Mohali|
|Sunday||17.4.16||8.00 PM||11||Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Delhi Daredevils||Bengaluru|
|Monday||18.4.16||8.00 PM||12||Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Mumbai Indians||Hyderabad|
|Tuesday||19.4.16||8.00 PM||13||Kings XI Punjab vs Kolkata Knight Riders||Mohali|
|Wednesday||20.4.16||8.00 PM||14||Mumbai Indians vs Royal Challengers Bangalore||Mumbai|
|Thursday||21.4.16||8.00 PM||15||Gujarat Lions vs Sunrisers Hyderabad||Rajkot|
|Friday||22.4.16||8.00 PM||16||Rising Pune Supergiants vs Royal Challengers Bangalore||Pune|
|Saturday||23.4.16||4.00 PM||17||Delhi Daredevils vs Mumbai Indians||Delhi|
|Saturday||23.4.16||8.00 PM||18||Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Kings XI Punjab||Hyderabad|
|Sunday||24.4.16||4.00 PM||19||Gujarat Lions vs Royal Challengers Bangalore||Rajkot|
|Sunday||24.4.16||8.00 PM||20||Rising Pune Supergiants vs Kolkata Knight Riders||Pune|
|Monday||25.4.16||8.00 PM||21||Kings XI Punjab vs Mumbai Indians||Mohali|
|Tuesday||26.4.16||8.00 PM||22||Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Rising Pune Supergiants||Hyderabad|
|Wednesday||27.4.16||8.00 PM||23||Delhi Daredevils vs Gujarat Lions||Delhi|
|Thursday||28.4.16||8.00 PM||24||Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders||Mumbai|
|Friday||29.4.16||8.00 PM||25||Rising Pune Supergiants vs Gujarat Lions||Pune|
|Saturday||30.4.16||4.00 PM||26||Delhi Daredevils vs Kolkata Knight Riders||Delhi|
|Saturday||30.4.16||8.00 PM||27||Sunsers Hyderabad vs Royal Challengers Bangalore||Hyderabad|
|Sunday||1.5.16||4.00 PM||28||Gujarat Lions vs Kings XI Punjab||Rajkot|
|Sunday||1.5.16||8.00 PM||29||Rising Pune Supergiants vs Mumbai Indians||Pune|
|Monday||2.5.16||8.00 PM||30||Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Kolkata Knight Riders||Bengaluru|
|Tuesday||3.5.16||8.00 PM||31||Gujarat Lions vs Delhi Daredevils||Rajkot|
|Wednesday||4.5.16||8.00 PM||32||Kolkata Knight Riders vs Kings XI Punjab||Kolkata|
|Thursday||5.5.16||8.00 PM||33||Delhi Daredevils vs Rising Pune Supergiants||Delhi|
|Friday||6.5.16||8.00 PM||34||Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Gujarat Lions||Hyderabad|
|Saturday||7.5.16||4.00 PM||35||Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Rising Pune Supergiants||Bengaluru|
|Saturday||7.5.16||8.00 PM||36||Kings XI Punjab vs Delhi Daredevils||Nagpur|
|Sunday||8.5.16||4.00 PM||37||Mumbai Indians vs Sunrisers Hyderabad||Mumbai|
|Sunday||8.5.16||8.00 PM||38||Kolkata Knight Riders vs Gujarat Lions||Kolkata|
|Monday||9.5.16||8.00 PM||39||Kings XI Punjab vs Royal Challengers Bangalore||Nagpur|
|Tuesday||10.5.16||8.00 PM||40||Rising Pune Supergiants vs Sunrisers Hyderabad||Pune|
|Wednesday||11.5.16||8.00 PM||41||Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Mumbai Indians||Bengaluru|
|Thursday||12.5.16||8.00 PM||42||Sunrisers Hyderbad vs Delhi Daredevils||Hyderabad|
|Friday||13.5.16||8.00 PM||43||Mumbai Indians vs Kings XI Punjab||Mumbai|
|Saturday||14.5.16||4.00 PM||44||Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Gujarat Lions||Bengaluru|
|Saturday||14.5.16||8.00 PM||45||Kolkata Knight Riders vs Rising Pune Supergiants||Kolkata|
|Sunday||15.5.16||4.00 PM||46||Mumbai Indians vs Delhi Daredevils||Mumbai|
|Sunday||15.5.16||8.00 PM||47||Kings XI Punjab vs Sunrisers Hyderabad||Nagpur|
|Monday||16.5.16||8.00 PM||48||Kolkata Knight Riders vs Royal Challengers Bangalore||Kolkata|
|Tuesday||17.5.16||8.00 PM||49||Rising Pune Supergiants vs Delhi Daredevils||Pune|
|Wednesday||18.5.16||8.00 PM||50||Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Kings XI Punjab||Bengaluru|
|Thursday||19.5.16||8.00 PM||51||Gujarat Lions vs Kolkata Knight Riders||Rajkot/Kanpur|
|Friday||20.5.16||8.00 PM||52||Delhi Daredevils vs Sunrisers Hyderabad||Raipur|
|Saturday||21.5.16||4.00 PM||53||Rising Pune Supergiants vs Kings XI Punjab||Pune|
|Saturday||21.5.16||8.00 PM||54||Gujarat Lions vs Mumbai Indians||Rajkot/Kanpur|
|Sunday||22.5.16||4.00 PM||55||Kolkata Knight Riders vs Sunrisers Hyderabad||Kolkata|
|Sunday||22.5.16||8.00 PM||56||Delhi Daredevils vs Royal Challengers Bangalore||Raipur|
|Tuesday||24.5.16||8.00 PM||Qualifier 1||Bengaluru|
|Friday||27.5.16||8.00 PM||Qualifier 2||Pune|
Worldwide TV listings: India: Sony Six, Set Max and Sony Espn. The UK: Sky Sports. The US: ESPN. Bangladesh : Set Max. Pakistan: Geo Super Canada: Sportsnet. New Zealand : Sky Sport. Middle East & North Africa: OSN Cricket. South Africa & Sub-Saharan Africa: SuperSport.