Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians have won it three times and Kolkata Knight Riders twice. Going by past record it may seem that these three teams would be the favourites going into the IPL which commences on March 23. The fact of the matter is that there are no favourites when it comes to the IPL. In the first place it is T-20 cricket which is most unpredictable. Moreover the long drawn out format gives every team a chance to come back after an indifferent start or to falter after a getting off to a flying start.
There is also the question of selection for the World Cup. Yes, that is Fifty50 and this is T-20 but there are still a couple of slots that need to be filled. The series against Australia did not exactly solve all the puzzles in the jigsaw that is the Indian World Cup squad and a really fine performance could end up in a surprise choice or two for England. The World Cup squad is to be picked around April 20 so the players have four weeks in which to try and impress the selectors.
While there is speculation about the slots to go to the utility players and how many of them should make the cut there is also considerable discussion around the No 4 slot that certainly remains to be filled for none of the candidates tried out in recent matches have shown the consistency to make the position their own. The experts have all come up with their own choices which include Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant, Ambati Rayudu and Vijay Shankar while Sourav Ganguly has come up with a surprise option in Cheteshwar Pujara. And while there is a need for someone to play the anchor role in limited overs cricket one doubts whether Pujara is the man. Whatever his impressive showing in Tests, his dismal record in ODIs – 51 runs in five matches at an average of 10.20 and a strike rate of 39 straightaway rules him out, besides the fact that he hasn’t played an ODI for five years.