The biggest tournament in domestic cricket makes its return on March 26th – and we have some new members of the IPL family to welcome.
The Lucknow Super Giants and the Gujarat Titans both come into this year’s competition as newcomers, and IPL authorities have had to accommodate them by reverting to the rules of the 2011 competition. We now have two groups of five teams in a more complex round-robin fixture system. You can find the full breakdown of the new rules here.
Can the new rules shake up the recent order of things? The Mumbai Indians and the Chennai Super Kings have won nine of the last 11 tournaments between them – it has felt for a long time as though the tournament needs a freshening up, and that’s precisely what it’s gotten!
I take a look at the top bets ahead of the tournament to provide you with the best IPL betting tips in the business.
The Punjab Kings had a brilliant Mega Auction – sealing Liam Livingstone and Kagiso Rabada in two of the most expensive acquisitions, adding a real sense of balance to their squad.
They have a team brimming with world-class talent – Livingstone and Rabada adding to a long list of names, including Shikar Dhawan, Shahrukh Khan, and Odean Smith.
The loss of KL Rahul is a blow – last season’s third-highest run-scorer is off to the Lucknow Super Giants to become the joint-highest paid player in IPL history. However, the retention of Mayank Agarwal, who has been named as the new captain, could prove a masterstroke – the 31-year-old hit four fifties last season, including a scintillating 99 Not Out against the Delhi Capitals.
They have been drawn in a tough group – the Chennai Super Kings, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and the Gujarat Titans filling out Group B.
But, personnel changes and new signings aside, I believe it’s time the Punjab Kings shed their tag as perennial underachievers. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2014 – far too long considering the investment poured into their side in recent years. I think this will be the year they halt the barren spell.
A pacey bowler with an insatiable attitude to learn and improve, a large amount is expected from the 23-year-old coming into this tournament.
Retained for the bargain price of ₹4 crores, Singh has claimed 27 wickets in 20 games for the Kings over the last two campaigns, including a five-wicket haul in the previous year against the Rajasthan Royals.
He will be a crucial presence at the death for the Kings’ bowling unit. An expert exponent of the yorker, he could dominate the top bowler betting markets for his side this season.
Star Player: Mayank Agarwal
The new Punjab Kings skipper is the longest-serving individual remaining at the Punjab Kings, after arriving in 2018.
His importance to his franchise is no better highlighted than the number of runs he has scored for them over the past two campaigns – notching up over 800 runs in total.
This year, he will hope another stellar performance will land him a maiden Twenty20 cap for his country, which appear to favour him as an option in the longer format.
Given his recent consistency, appointment as skipper and after looking at the online cricket satar bazar, I like the look of Agarwal to trouble the scorers in the tournament’s top batsman market. The odds aren’t out yet, but unless they’re devastatingly low, I will be backing him each way.
What we like about PKS
I don’t know what it is about the perennial underachiever I am drawn to – maybe it hits too close to home?
It feels as though the Punjab Kings have the tools to put forward a proper challenge this season. The Mega Auction was an unqualified success, and there is star quality coursing through this line-up.
I am looking for a disruption to the dominance of the Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians, and I think the Kings are the ones to provide it.
Fly in the ointment
How much of a miss will KL Rahul be?
It feels odd to describe the departure of their free-scoring leader as a potentially positive outcome – but it’s true that under his leadership, the Kings have stagnated over recent years.
However, he notched 626 runs last year – that’s a huge hole to fill, and the Kings may struggle if another batter doesn’t step up to replace those runs.
IPL 2022 Winner Prediction Verdict
I am backing the Kings to make the top two at a minimum in the regular standings, and end years of hurt by lifting their maiden IPL trophy.
I rank the Capitals a close second to the Kings in terms of Mega Auction success, which is why they are my second pick for the title.
Acquiring no fewer than 20 players, including Shardul Thakur at a costly ₹10.75 crores and retaining skipper Rishabh Pant, Axar Patel, and Anrich Mortje, the Capitals arguably have the most star-studded line-up in the IPL.
They finished top of the regular standings last year, losing just four of their 14 games, but fell apart in the playoffs, losing to the Chennai Super Kings and the Kolkata Knight Riders.
New assistant coach Ajit Agarkar will help head coach Ricky Ponting get his troops in order, and I see no reason as to why they can’t challenge at the end of the season.
Wicket-keeping extraordinaire, prolific batter, always competitive – Rishabh Pant is the embodiment of what the modern-day cricketer is supposed to be.
The tenth-highest run-scorer in the 2021 edition, Pant scored 419 runs at an average of 39.41 at a strike rate of 128.52. Solid numbers – but ones that don’t do this mercurial talent justice.
His retention is crucial to the prospects of the Capitals, and he will strike fear into the bowling stables across the league. If he hits the ground running, the Capitals should be in and around the conversation at the end of the season.
Star Player: Mustafizur Rahman
Last year, the Bangladeshi all-rounder had a quiet tournament for the Rajasthan Royals – claiming just 14 wickets in as many games. Given the batting-oriented nature of the Capitals’ line-up, he will need to improve those numbers to offer the required bowling support.
However, he is a dependable, international-class bowler who offers reasonable control and claims crucial wickets at critical times. His highlights last year include an impressive 3/20 from four overs in the Royals’ triumph over the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
He could be worth an outside bet as top bowler for the tournament.
What we like about Delhi
I don’t think there is a more robust top and middle order in the tournament. David Warner, Prithvi Shaw, Mitchell Marsh, Rishabh Pant, and Rovman Powell represent a formidable, fast-scoring quintet – all of whom retain the ability to destroy teams in a matter of overs.
There is considerable strength in depth there, and I think it will prove crucial to their trophy push.
Fly in the ointment
Do the Capitals suffer from stage fright as a franchise?
They cruised the regular season last year – losing just four games on their way to topping the table, and we short-priced favourites to lift it.
However, two defeats in both playoff matches would have been a shattering experience for Pant and his team.
My concern surrounds the mental fortitude of this side in the key moments. Here’s hoping they prove me wrong.
IPL 2022 Winner Prediction Verdict
They should have more than enough to make the finals – I just worry about their mindset in the big knockout matches.