If the opening week action is anything to go by, the official broadcasters of Indian Premier League, Star India, are set for an astronomical jump in ratings in the upcoming weeks of the 11th edition.
The very first match of the ongoing season was a last-ball thriller. Mumbai Indians, who are perennial slow starters, were on the right track to buck the trend when they had Chennai Super Kings (CSK) reeling at 118 for 8 in chase of 166.
CSK shine on a comeback
However, CSK snatched victory from the jaws of the defeat, showcasing the world why they are one of the most exciting teams in the cash-rich league. While West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo was the star of the opening night, England batsman Sam Billings pulled off a heist a few days later in what turned out to be their only home match of the season at MA Chidambaram Stadium.
There were concerns about the lack of young blood in CSK but MS Dhoni's men have well and truly proved their critics wrong with some fearless performances. The two-time champions almost completed a hat-trick of remarkable turnarounds Sunday, April 15, but Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) held their nerves to deny them two points.
The most pleasing aspect of CSK's outing in Mohali was the return of vintage Dhoni. The 36-year-old turned back the clock and took the KXIP bowlers to the cleaners, thereby sending a clear warning to the rest of the teams.
Sunrisers Hyderabad make it three in three
Unlike CSK, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) have had very little trouble in disposing of opponents so far. With three wins from three matches, Kane Williamson's men are on top of the table with nine points.
With a power-packed batting unit and rich variety in their bowling unit, SRH have laid down an early marker in the season.
KXIP play aggressive brand of cricket
Under Ravichandran Ashwin, KXIP have started the season on a high. Aggressive batting performances coupled with quality spin bowling has been their success so far.
Ashwin has already proved he is a smart captain as he had unleashed Chris Gayle, who was benched for their first two matches, against CSK. The West Indies opener straightaway hit a match-winning half-century to repay the faith the skipper showed in him.
Early-season woes for the defending champions
At the other end of the spectrum are Rohit Sharma-led MI have lost three matches and all of them went down to the wire.
Youngsters Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan have been major positives for the defending champions but inconsistent performances from skipper Sharma and Pandya brothers — Hardik and Krunal have let them down.
Mumbai are still struggling to find the right balance as the skipper has tinkered with the batting order in all three matches. Nonetheless, the three-time champions have the firepower to turn things around.
Sanju Samson stars for Rajasthan Royals
Meanwhile, Rajasthan Royals were steamrolled by SRH in their season opener but Sanju Samson's imperious striking has helped them make a strong comeback and win two in two.
Samson demolished Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) bowling unit in the latter's own backyard, single-handedly leading the team to a confidence-boosting 19-run win.
The likes of skipper Ajinkya Rahane, Ben Stokes pacer Ben Laughlin have also chipped in with important contributions and it looks like Shane Warne-mentored side are only going to get better as the season progress.
Poor start for Virat Kohli's RCB
RCB have not had the start they would have wanted to the season, given the positive talks around the newfound balance in their squad.
Virat Kohli fielded a playing XI that had only five bowling options (all specialist) bowlers in their season opener at Eden Gardens. The move backfired as Kolkata Knight Riders targeted their fifth bowler in Washington Sundar, which proved costly for the former runners-up.
RCB hit back with an AB de Villiers-orchestrated run chase at home on April 13 but the hopes were crushed by Samson's brutal onslaught two days later.
Kohli is under pressure and he needs to look at options in the bench. Brendon McCullum's poor form at the top has been a huge cause for concern and the team is likely to replace the former New Zealand skipper with an all-rounder to add more firepower to the squad.
KKR, DD need to buckle up
Meanwhile, Dinesh Karthik's captaincy stint in IPL got off to a solid start as they beat RCB at home in their opening match. However, they seem to have lost momentum following back-to-back defeats against CSK and SRH.
The likes of Andre Russell and Sunil Narine have shone but KKR need to collectively perform if they are to challenge for the title in this season.
On the other hand, Gautam Gambhir's Delhi Daredevils were unlucky to lose a rain-affected match against the Royals on April 11, days after they were outclassed by KXIP on the road.
However, they opened their account in style by demolishing Mumbai Indians on the road. The Daredevils' batting unit looks settled but the team needs to address the lack of quality spin bowling options if they are to find consistent success.