IPL 2024: League is back with new captains, big returns & T20 World Cup selection in mind

March 21, 2024
Shortly after season two of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) ended with a trophy for the Royal Challengers Bangalore,

New Delhi, March 21 (IANS) Shortly after season two of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) ended with a trophy for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, the cricket fans’ focus immediately shifted to whether the franchise’s men’s team can do the same in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024.

It’s that time of the year again when ten teams will be competing over two long months to grab the glittering IPL trophy, with passionate fans debating over who will go all the way to the title by May-end.

The IPL 2024 will be commencing with a highly anticipated clash between Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) and defending champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Friday.

A day before the clash, CSK pulled off a surprise by announcing Ruturaj Gaikwad as its captain, thus replacing the talismanic M.S. Dhoni, who has been subject to adulation whenever the team played its matches in IPL 2023, on their way to winning their fifth title.

The move to switch captaincy in a typically low-key manner may well hint towards IPL 2024 being Dhoni’s swansong. RCB, with a new head coach in Andy Flower, would be keen to get going from the word go.

But there’s also an element of India squad selection for the T20 World Cup, happening in West Indies and USA in June, which means someone like Virat Kohli, whose place is in the balance, must show that he’s still a force to reckon with in the shortest format.

Other contenders like Rinku Singh, Shivam Dube, Avesh Khan, Ravi Bishnoi and Axar Patel, along with the first-choice folks, will be gearing up to put themselves in contention for a T20 World Cup squad spot.

In terms of players returning to the IPL, the competitive cricket comeback of Rishabh Pant is keenly awaited. The left-handed wicketkeeper-batter is back as captain of the Delhi Capitals and is on the verge of returning to the field for the first time since surviving a life-threatening car crash in December 2022.

Pant had to go through an extensive rehabilitation and recovery process at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) to recover from damaged right knee ligaments, apart from injuries to ankle, wrist, and toe, as well as abrasion injuries on his back and two cuts on the forehead. If he can prove his form and fitness, along with managing his cricketing load effectively, Pant could be in line to play for India at the T20 World Cup, though caution could be exercised in rushing him to international cricket action by the Ajit Agarkar-led selection committee.

But with Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson, Dhruv Jurel and Jitesh Sharma as other wicketkeeper-batter contenders (KL Rahul may not keep wickets initially due to a right quadriceps issue), Pant will be tested, but his remarkable recovery has proved that he’s a human full of grit and determination to overcome every challenge.

Someone who’s also returning to action is Hardik Pandya, this time as the new captain of five-time IPL winners Mumbai Indians. Pandya has been out of action since October after an ankle injury ruled him out of India’s campaign at the ODI World Cup and has now replaced Rohit Sharma as MI skipper.

Shubman Gill and Pat Cummins, captaining the Gujarat Titans and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively, add more intrigue to the new captain narrative. In terms of rules, allowing bowlers to bowl two bouncers per over should make things interesting and give the bowlers more teeth.

With this ruling, the bouncer can become the surprise element in the arsenal of fast bowlers this season, apart from the yorkers. IPL 2024, with its full schedule yet to come due to the upcoming general elections in India, comes at a time when players are choosing to skip the Ranji Trophy to be fit for the T20 extravaganza.

But with BCCI incentivising Test cricket players, it has in a way acknowledged that the riches of T20 cricket are coming in the way of playing the longer format, a problem which has now reached the shores of Indian cricket.

For now, all the focus will be on what IPL 2024 throws up in terms of various narratives for its faithful fans and the cricketing world, with the bigger picture being the selection of personnel and preparedness for the Men’s T20 World Cup.

The opening match between CSK and RCB will start at 8 pm on Friday.


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