The wait is going to be over for millions of cricket fans around the world on Sunday, March 29 as the new season of Indian Premier League (IPL) kicks off, and that too in grand style. There will be a rematch from last year's heart-stopping final between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings and it will be played in Mumbai. The former side had won the match by a solitary run.
But that's just the beginning. What follows are 55 more league round matches played across the home grounds of all the home teams concluding with the last game of this stage on May 17 that will feature Royal Challengers Bangalore taking on Mumbai Indians on their home ground.
Then, we would move on to the play-offs stage but the itinerary for that is yet to be decided. What's interesting about this season is the fact that there will be just one match played on Saturday during the course of the tournament, unlike previous seasons when the day used to have double-headers. Only Sunday will see two matches taking place.
As far as the venues are concerned, the only non-major town to, possibly, host a match or more would be Guwahati as it has been chosen by the Rajasthan Royals to be their alternate home venue. All the other teams have decided to play their home games in the traditional bastions of India cricket such as Mohali, Bengaluru, Mumbai, etc.
The possibility of starting the matches half-an-hour early, at 7:30 PM instead of 8 PM has been discussed but the governing council of the tournament has decided against it. After Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings kick-off the action, the focus would shift to the national capital where Delhi Capitals and Kings XI Punjab will begin their season.
On day 3, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders will be in action at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, the hometown of RCB. Sunrisers Hyderabad will play their first match on day 4 at their home ground, against the defending champions. The last team to start their campaign would be Rajasthan Royals the next day against CSK in Chennai.
Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings might again start as favourites. The reigning champions still have the great duo of Lasith Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah to lead their pace attack while the consistency of CSK, under the leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, will favour them. However, with the vagaries of T20 format, anything can happen.