The wait is now over. Well, almost. The players are raring to take centre stage brushing aside all the distractions off field. With one day to go and so much talk about the all the glitz and glamour in the tournament, the IPL is all set to reveal its core content.
Here's how the eight teams look like at the start of the tournament:
The defending champions have brought back as many as 11 players from the previous season, which means, the team would spend less time on ice-breaking sessions and more time on cricket. Mike Hussey's inclusion has been a huge plus for MI, with the Australian making up for the loss of Sachin Tendulkar. Corey Anderson and Kieron Pollard, of course, provide stability to the lineup but, their match fitness remains a concern for Rohit Sharma the captain, John Wright the coach and Anil Kumble the mentor. Harbhajan Singh and Praghyan Ojha will take care of the spin department while Lasith Malinga should be well backed by Zaheer Khan.
Key Player: Kieron Pollard
Chennai Super Kings
Having retained five of their star performers - skipper MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin - Chennai have added to their side, big-time T20 players such as Faf du Plessis, Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum and Samuel Badree. Being the most successful team in the IPL so far, they will look to pick up their third IPL title.
Power hitters is a check and world-class spinners is a check too for CSK. But, what remains unchecked is a quality fast bowling department despite having the likes of Ben Hilfenhaus and Ashish Nehra in the mix.
Key Player: MS Dhoni
Rajasthan Royals were the most economical squad in the IPL 7 auction despite buying the most number of players. They have made some smart picks giving depth to each department. Brad Hodge, Ajinkya Rahane, Shane Watson, who replaces Rahul Dravid as captain, and James Faulkner will give the side their batting expertise while Tim Southee will do the same with the bowling. Inexperience has been both the strength and weakness of Rajasthan throughout the six seasons of IPL and this time too they have variety in age and calibre with the likes of 19-year-old Sanju Samson and 42-year-old Pravin Tambe, two players who were vital in last season's Playoff run.
Key Player: Shane Watson
The Sunrisers batting lineup is a star-studded one with David Warner, Aaron Finch, Shikhar Dhawan and Darren Sammy. The bowling lineup becomes as close to complete as possible with just Dale Steyn in it, but they also have the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Irfan Pathan to back the South Africa tyro.
The Hyderabad franchise, after surprising everyone by making the Playoffs last season, will look to go a couple of steps higher this time around.
Key Player: Dale Steyn
Kolkata Knight Riders
Kolkata retained only two of their previous season campaigners - Gautam Gambhir and Sunil Narine -- but, managed to buy back Ryan ten Doeschate, Manvinder Singh Bisla, Shakib-al-Hasan and Debabrata Das, while they used the 'right to match' card for Jacques Kallis.
They have a pretty strong bowling attack with Morne Morkel, Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Pat Cummins and Andre Russell. However, it is their middle order batting that is in question.
Key Player: Sunil Narine
Like Kolkata, Delhi too decided to go for a new look and a fresh start. They went all out to buy Kevin Pietersen and Dinesh Karthik. They also have Gary Kirsten as the coach. They might be overly dependent on Pietersen and Ross Taylor in the batting. While lacking quality all-rounders, the pace attach looks hopeful with Mohammad Shami and Wayne Parnell.
Key Player: Kevin Pietersen
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Yuvraj Singh, the most expensive player of the auction, was added to an already formidable batting lineup consisting Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. That's a lot of power in the batting. Muttiah Muralitharan will be their leading spinner and a lot will depend on Varun Aaron, Ashok Dinda, Mitchell Starc, Albie Morkel and Ravi Rampaul. The main challenge for RCB will be to get their winning combination right at the start of the tournament.
Key Player: Chris Gayle
Kings XI Punjab
A fine mix of key Indian and international players can be seen in the Punjab squad. Mitchell Johnson is not only their highest buy, but also the most sought after bowler post a brilliant couple of series' against England and South Africa. George Bailey, Virender Sehwag and Shaun Marsh power their top order while Murali Kartik stands alone with Shivam Sharma in the spin attack. They have invested on a lot of all-rounders which should come in handy when the play begins.
Key Player: Mitchell Johnson