By Rex Clementine
Often before new rules are added to cricket’s Laws in international cricket, they are tried domestically in England or Australia. That’s what happened to one of the recent additions like the free hit rule. The world order is changing and now these new rule twists are tried out at the IPL, cricket’s most competitive tournament.
This year’s IPL will see the captains naming their teams after the toss whereas, they are usually supposed to hand over the team sheet to their opposite number and the match referee before the toss.
There had been a recent trend where the toss had become vital with the dew setting in making life difficult for spinners of the teams that defended a target, especially in sub-continent. Now a captain after the toss can change the side if he felt that the presence of a spinner could negatively affect his team.
New rule change will also see players challenging wide and no ball calls. While on field umpires now need to be on the money, teams can overturn a decision if they felt they had been hard done by.
Gujarat Titians will be defending the title having surprised many winning the championship in their first attempt.
Hardik Pandya’s leadership qualities came to the highlight after the tournament and he has emerged as the clear successor to Rohit Sharma having already captained India in white ball cricket.
This year’s Gujarat team looks better than the one that won the title with the addition of Kane Williamson. The availability of David Miller and Josh Little has raised some concerns lead up to the tournament.
A total of 14 England players feature in the IPL this season and Punjab Kings depend on them heavily. While Sam Curran and Liam Livingstone are key for their fortunes, they will miss Jonny Bairstow, who hasn’t got an NOC from ECB as he recovers from a broken knee.
There are major injury concerns for Chennai Super Kings and Lucknow Super Giants. Mukesh Choudhary impressed for CSK last season while Mohsin Khan was a standout performer for LSG and both are out of contention this season with injuries.
For CSK the focus will be more on M. S. Dhoni’s last season in IPL and a possible change of hands in captaincy with Ben Stokes tipped to be his replacement.
Stokes, however, could be unavailable for the tail end of the IPL as he needs to return home to prepare for the one off Test against Ireland lead up to the biggest contests of them all - the Ashes.
Mumbai Indians are cock-a-hoop that Jofra Archer is finally available after all the injuries but not having Jasprit Bumrah is a big blow for them.
Much is expected from Australian sensation Cameroon Green for a side that has dominated the IPL but had a disastrous last season.
Teams are not short of injuries lead up to this IPL and Delhi Capitals perhaps have suffered the biggest blow having lost Rishab Pant for the season.