The eleventh edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will begin at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai and the first match of the season will be played between defending champions Mumbai Indians and two-time champions Chennai Super Kings.
The matches will be played at nine venues, across 51 days from April 7 to May 27, 2018. Meanwhile, fans in Chennai and Jaipur will once again get their share of the IPL frenzy as MA Chidambaram Stadium (Chepauk) and the Sawai Mansingh Stadium will host home matches of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals respectively. Kings XI Punjab will play their three home matches in Indore and four matches at home in Mohali.The IPL Governing Council announced that each IPL franchise could retain a maximum of five players from their respective current squads. Of the five players, a franchise could retain a maximum of three players through retention in lead up to the auction, and a maximum of three players through right-to-match card during the auction. The other restrictions on player retention were: a maximum of three capped Indian players could be retained, and only two overseas players and two uncapped Indian players could be retained. The salary cap for each team for the 2018 season was increased from ₹66 crore to ₹80 crore (approximately $12.4 million). A franchise was allowed to spend only ₹33 crore on retentions ahead of the 2018 IPL auction, leaving it at least ₹47 crore to spend at the auctionStrengths: The bowling. In Jasprit Bumrah, Pat Cummins, Mustafizur Rahman, Mitchell McClenaghan, Hardik and Krunal Pandya the team has a very balanced attack.
Weaknesses: Not enough international quality in the batting. Evin Lewis and JP Duminy are not good enough support for Rohit Sharma.
Fixtures: April 7 v CSK (home); April 12 v SRH (away); April 14 v DD (home); April 17 v RCB (home); April 22 v RR (away); April 24 v SRH (home); April 28 v CSK (away); May 1 v RCB (away); May 4 v KXIP (away); May 6 v KKR (home); May 9 v KKR (away); May 13 v RR (home); May 15 v KXIP (home).
IPL 11 prediction: Their pedigree speaks for itself, but a reliance on too few players with the bat and ball threaten to detail Mumbai Indians’ season. To reach the play-offs will take a lot of consistency. Mumbai can do it, but that over-dependency factor could scupper their chances.Putting together the core of the successful squad of seasons past could prove the smartest move the franchise owners made. Put your money on CSK going to the play-offs.Strengths: The batting. A squad featuring the batting might of Colin Munro, Glenn Maxwell, Jason Roy, Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer and Gambhir, with Chris Morris down the order, gives Daredevils hope of challenging all bowling attacks.
Weaknesses: Beyond Kagiso Rabada and Trent Boult - who will struggle to make the XI as a pair - the pace bowling is suspect with only Morris a certainty. Mohammed Shami is injury prone and Harshal Patel expensive. A lack of serous Indian pace off the bench is a worry.
Fixtures: April 8 v KXIP (away); April 11 v RR (away); April 14 v MI (away); April 16 v KKR (away); April 21 v RCV (away); April 23 v KXIP (home); April 27 v KKR (home); April 30 v CSK (away); May 2 v RR (home); May 5 v SRH (away); May 10 v SRH (home); May 12 v RCB (home); May 18 v CSK (home); May 20 v MI (home).
IPL 11 prediction: If the batting can live upto its reputation and the bowlers - particularly the spinners - remain penetrative and consistent to support the pace attack, expect Daredevils to reach the knockouts.Strengths: Plenty of top order batting options in Chris Gayle, Aaron Finch, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and Karun Nair, plus too good spinners in Ashwin and Axar Patel.
Weaknesses: The pace bowling. Barring the Australian Andrew Tye, there is no penetrative and bankable fast bowler.Fixtures: April 8 v DD (home); April 13 v RCB (away); April 15 v CSK (home); April 19 v SRH (home); April 21 v KKR (away); April 23 v DD (away); April 26 v SRH (away); May 4 v MI (home); May 6 v RR (home);
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