The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 season starts from March 23 onwards and there is plenty of excitement building with each passing day. Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore face-off in the opener in Chennai. Defending champions CSK go into the tourney as the favourites to win the 12th edition. Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians will also be strong candidates to have their hands on the trophy.

The schedule has been revealed for the first two weeks and one expects the complete lost to come out in the coming days. Matches will be held at 8:00 PM and on double-header days, it will be be held at the normal 4:00 PM slot. The IPL 2019 Auction was held in December 2018 and the focus for several teams was to get in more uncapped players. Prior to that, we had the IPL Trade Window and majority of players were retained by the eight franchises.

The main focus of this IPL was in relation to the return of David Warner and Steve Smith. Both players will see their 12-month ban come to an end on March 29 and they will feature post that. They missed IPL 11 after the BCCI followed the sanction imposed by Cricket Australia last year. Warner and Smith are returning from elbow injuries.

Certain players were traded and many others were released. CSK look like the most complete team at the moment and they are exactly the same like last season. Mohit Sharma was a key player added in the auction and his experience will give skipper MS Dhoni the platform to build upon. CSK look complete and set to continue from where they left off.

Sunrisers Hyderabad are strong contenders and the return of Warner gives them a major boost. Warner may not be available for the entire season if he gets selected in the World Cup squad for Australia. But SRH have quality on offer across departments. Kolkata Knight Riders will depend in their young force to have a say. The freedom they will be handed is a positive sign for the eastern giants. Dinesh Karthik’s side invested huge money on Carlos Brathwaite and he adds more power in the all-round base.

Mumbai Indians have a strong pace-bowling unit and there is plenty of options to choose from. They would want to start well. All eyes will be on Yuvraj Singh, who was offered a contract by the side. Delhi Capitals have plenty of excitement surrounding them. From a new name, jersey and some strong players in the mix, Shreyas Iyer’s side can be the dark horses this season.

Kings XI Punjab went for an overhaul once again and one still feels many things are lacking in this side. It will take a monumental effort for R Ashwin to rally his troops. Rajasthan Royals will hope that Smith gives that solidity. They will miss the big players from England and Australia, when they leave for World Cup preparations. Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore identified several shortcomings and worked out in the window. They have plenty to offer this term after disappointments in the last two years.

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