Indian Premier League is back: What are the main talking points? | Cricket News

The 17th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) – world cricket's biggest T20 competition – will see defending champions Chennai Super Kings host Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday, March 22.

10 teams with many top players from around the world are competing in this tournament.

While organizers have not confirmed the prize money for this year's IPL tournament, if previous years are anything to go by, the IPL purse this time around is expected to be around $6 million, with the winning team pocketing roughly $2.4 million.

1. Can Virat Kohli finally capture a major title that has marked him?

Virat Kohli is the most successful player in world cricket except IPL title.

The Indian batsman has played for Royal Challengers Bangalore in all 16 IPL seasons, finishing runners-up in the tournament in 2009, 2011 and 2016. Highest run scorer in IPL history.

With Kohli sitting out the recent home series against England for personal reasons, some believe the clock is ticking on the 35-year-old's IPL career – could 2024 be the iconic batsman's final season?

This year's event is one of Kohli's best chances to win the IPL. He is joined in the 2024 Bangalore squad by a strong Aussie line-up of Glenn Maxwell and Cameron Green, South African captain Faf du Plessis and pacer Mohammad Siraj.

An IPL crown for Kohli would be a fitting final chapter to the career of the greatest cricketer.

Virat Kohli of Royal Challengers Bangalore tosses the ball after taking a catch from Ayush Patoni of Lucknow Supergiant during the 2023 Indian Premier League. [Surjeet Yadav/AP Photo]

2. Will Mitchell Starc keep that record deal?

Aussie pacer Mitchell Starc made headlines last December when he smashed the IPL auction record, the all-time highest player purchase price of $2.98 million.

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Starc, 34, has been bid for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) as the centerpiece of their 2024 IPL season campaign. The left-arm fast bowler averages 23 for his bowling career in T20s with 74 wickets in 60 T20 Internationals.

But the left-arm pacer last played in the IPL in 2015 and has a long, injury-riddled history with the competition.

He missed the tournament in 2016 due to a broken leg. In 2018, Starc signed for Kolkata Knight Riders for big money – but was injured again and did not play for the team. In 2022, he also left, “[COVID-19] Bubble Fatigue”.

In 2024, Kolkata will be hoping Starc can deliver their first IPL title in 10 years. If the big Australian is healthy, few bowlers in world cricket can statistically impact a match more than Starc.

Australia's Mitchell Starc bowls during the ICC Men's World Cup 2023 final between Australia and India.
Australia's Mitchell Starc bowls during the ICC Men's World Cup final between Australia and India 2023 [Mahesh Kumar A/AP Photo]

3. Why Indian election delay release of full schedule of IPL 2024?

The nearly two-month long tournament will begin on Friday, March 22. Last month, the organizers announced only a partial schedule for the first 21 matches till April 7 as India's upcoming general election dates were not announced at that time.

Issues related to the administration of the competition, adequate policing and security are understood to be behind the announcement of the reduced schedule as the country goes to polls.

The poll schedule was announced last week, with polls taking place from April 19 to June 4, and the IPL organizers are expected to announce the dates of the remaining matches in the next few days.

After the elections, the organizers are expected to play catch-up in the IPL match schedule, and the three-day matches may take place in a few days.

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The IPL is expected to end at the end of May, putting it very close to the nearest ICC T20 World Cup, which starts on June 1 in the US and West Indies.

A police officer briefs colleagues ahead of the first Twenty20 cricket match between India and Australia in Mohali, India, 2022.
A police officer briefs colleagues ahead of the first T20 cricket match between India and Australia in Mohali, India, 2022. [Manish Swarup/AP Photo]

4. 42 year old M.S. Can Dhoni defy father time (again) to give Chennai the title again?

No player has the midas touch in IPL like MS Dhoni.

The evergreen Indian wicketkeeper-batsman has won the tournament five times in 2010, 2011, 2018, 2021 and 2023.

Rumors are rife that the 2024 IPL will be his final game in the lucrative competition – but we've heard those rumors before. Dhoni has not played a single professional game since the Super Kings defeated Gujarat Titans in the IPL 2023 final 10 months ago.

If Dhoni wants to bring another title to Chennai this year, he will have a strong line-up to do it: Ravindra Jadeja, Daryl Mitchell and Moeen Ali are among the best in the Super Kings squad.

If Dhoni wins a sixth IPL title, it will add to the already remarkable legacy of a player who has enjoyed an unprecedented second cricket career pinnacle as an IPL winner.

If this is his career farewell, Dhoni—one of India's all-time favorite cricketers—can expect incredible support across the country during the IPL.

Chennai Super Kings captain Dhoni collects the ball during the Indian Premier League series.
Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni collects the ball during the Indian Premier League cricket match between Lucknow Super Giants and Chennai Super Kings in 2023. [Surjeet Yadav/AP Photo]

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