IPL 4 begins tomorrow 8th April 2011, with opening match in Chennai. Each of the 10 teams play 14 games with 7 home and 7 away. Making it 70 matches. There would be 4 more maches to determine the winner of IPL 4, the final match to be held on 28th May in Mumbai. The format for the final 4 teams is slightly different with the top 2 teams getting an extra chance to qualify for the final thus getting to the top 2 positions important in league phase.
The top 3 teams of course qualify for the Champions Trophy, later this year.
12 Cities play host to the matches. Pune team has their home base in Navi Mumbai and Kochi team plays couple of matches in Indore while Kings XI Punjab play few matches in Dharamsala. With 74 matches in 50 days it would be a tough schedule for every team, what with travelling across India
With Lalit Modi, the architect of the first 3 versions, nowhere to be seen it would be a different tournament at least from the glamor point of view. Which is good as well as concentration would be on good cricket rather than good looking models and parties.
My predictions – Mostly based on team compositions, players, captains and coaches and mostly gut feeling.
MI, RCB, PSW and CSK as the top 4 and Kochi and Rajasthan Royals the bottom 2.
Finally, After all the long litigations and hours of meetings it almost seems final that IPL 4 would have 10 teams and 74 matches. There would 2 groups of 5 each which would play matches on Home and Away basis thus producing 40 matches. The next round will have top 6 teams playing against each other in home- away basis and thus producing another 30 matches. 2 semi finals, 1 3rd place match and the mega final would make it 74 matches over a period of 6 weeks.
The players auction has been finalized for 8th and 9th January 2011. There are 416 players available for the first round of auction. This list includes heavyweights like Rahul Dravid, YuvRaj Singh, Zaheer Khan from India and International stars like Brian Lara, Micheal Hussey and Kevin Peterson. Out of these the list will be pruned down to a more reasonable number by December 24,2010 based on the interests shown by the 10 franchises. The base prices for the players are fixed but that is of course not indicative of the actual prices. Notable absentees in the list are Ricky Ponting, Mitchell Johnson and Micheal Clarke who have resisted IPL’s money in favor of longer International career. Pakistani players are also not part of the list.
12 players have been retained by various franchises. Mumbai Indians have retained Sachin, Harbhajan Singh, Malinga and Pollard while Chennai have put faith in Dhoni, Raina, Vijay and Albie Morkel. Delhi have retained Sehwag while Bangalore are happy with Virat Kohli. Rajasthan have retained Shane Warne and Shane Watson. The other 3 teams namely Deccan, Knightriders and Kings XI Punjab and the 2 new teams of Pune and Kochi go with empty roster in the auction and the full 9 Million $ to spend.
Apart from the auctions the team will be entitled to sign the Indian domestic players which will make the backbone of any team. BCCI is yet to decide upon the final date from which this signing can happen.
The auctions would surely be as keenly followed as the actual IPL Matches.