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IPL 17: Four men, four narratives and a Cup on the horizon

IPL 17: Four men, four narratives and a Cup on the horizon

New Delhi, The never-ending speculation surrounding Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s retirement, Virat Kohli’s 16-year-itch, the second chance that life has offered Rishabh Pant and Rohit Sharma’s bleeding heart will make for intriguing sub-plots in the annual carnival called the Indian Premier League starting on Friday.

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Dhoni, the 42-year-old evergreen captain, will once again smile wryly when asked if it’s his last year. His heir apparent Pant, literally back from the brink after a life-threatening accident, will be desperate to show the world that he can still hit those one-handed sixes with elan.

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In between, he could also be slipping in those quotable quotes behind the stumps that are considered broadcast gold.

Rohit will be the last person to show his scars hidden behind the typical ‘Mumbaiya’ nonchalance as he gets down to enjoying his evening dates at the Wankhede albeit without the captain’s title. The partisan crowd would nonetheless look forward to those pulled sixes.

As for King Kohli, he would be in pursuit of that elusive jewel in his crown. By his own admission, he has been longing for a big title and his own passionate approach to the game would be a key factor in deciding whether the RCB men manage to emulate the women this year.

A bigger prize is also at stake for at least 10 to 12 other players, who will be vying for eight slots in the New York-bound flight that will take off at the end of May for the T20 World Cup in the USA and the Caribbean.

There will be unbelievable comebacks by some, a few new stars will emerge, there will also be those usual rags to riches stories and all of it could unfold in a matter of four minutes, the time it takes to deliver one over.

The late VB Chandrasekhar, who sat on the first auction table for CSK in 2008 to raise the paddle for Dhoni, had once famously said, “It takes only four minutes for a star to be born in T20 cricket.”

Just like overnight stars, the merciless social media will find villains too.

The likes of Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc , who raked in big money during the auction, will shoulder a massive burden of expectations through the season.

For every six that they concede at the death or each yorker that turns into a full toss, the two will be reminded of salaries which are north of USD two million.

CSK and MI the eternal favourites


Away from the money talk and purely on cricketing prowess, CSK would be the favourites for a sixth IPL title with a squad that has all bases covered. Their beloved “Thala”, in any case, can make do with whatever he has in his arsenal.

Rachin Ravindra was a breakout World Cup star but who knows under Dhoni, he might become a T20 superstar.

Deepak Chahar, the much-maligned seamer who is often accused of making CSK his first priority, would like his wrists to do the talking for him and with Ruturaj Gaikwad, Moeen Ali, and Ravindra Jadeja in the mix, anything can happen.

And how can one forget Dhoni, the smiling assassin. All it takes is one six in T20 cricket and Dhoni’s love affair with the maximum is eternal.

For Mumbai Indians, it has been a story of all or nothing.

Five titles till 2020 and three years of lull forced them to change a captain, who can still whip up crazy sentiments.

It will be a tightrope walk for Hardik Pandya the leader.

For other captains, they need to win the on-field games but Pandya needs to win the dressing room too. There will be seniors with bruised egos, knowing that a shot at leadership has bypassed them. They could well be difficult to handle.

If he wins that dressing room, half of his battle will be won as MI do have a solid batting line-up even if the bowling looks weak.

For RCB, the greatest inspiration could be the women’s team that gave the men a crash course on how to play calmly at the business end where Kohli and Co. have faltered.

Kohli wouldn’t mind 200 runs less but he would badly want that trophy. Dhoni has laid his hands on it five times, so has Rohit Sharma.

But what would rankle Kohli is the fact that even KKR has won it twice under his bete noire Gautam Gambhir.

However, Kohli alone cannot win it. The Dinesh Karthiks, the Faf du Plessis’, the Glenn Maxwells and likes of Akash Deep need to believe that ‘E saala Cup Naam de’ .

Gambhir, who is now back in the KKR camp, would be as ambitious if not more.

No one has forgotten the ugly war of words that broke out between him and Kohli. In his familiar KKR dugout, Gambhir the coach could make a difference.

A middle-order comprising Shreyas Iyer, Nitish Rana, Rinku Singh and Andre Russell can send shivers down any bowling attack’s spine. And then comes Starc, who would need to justify his nearly ₹25 crore deal.

The team that Gambhir quit, Lucknow Super Giants has a new coach in Justin Langer and it would like to do better than Play-offs this time but with a bowling attack that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

Ditto for Delhi Capitals although Pant’s comeback could well be the most emotionally charged story of this IPL.

Gujarat Titans, the team of the last two seasons, might not make it this time with no Pandya or Mohammed Shami, who is out injured, in its line-up.

Rajasthan Royals with Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson, Dhruv Jurel and Jos Buttler will be serious contenders.

Sunrisers Hyderabad, despite having Pat Cummins as captain, and Shikhar Dhawan’s Punjab Kings are not expected to go the distance.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.


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