IPL 2018 – the 11th edition of the tournament – looks set to be a cracker and for English fans there are more familiar faces involved than ever.
Here’s a rundown of the eight sides from an English perspective, to help you choose a team.
Chennai Super Kings
Who? Returning giant
Why should I support them? Fair chance of glory
English players? Sam Billings, Mark Wood
The two-time winners of the competition return for 2018, having sat out two seasons due to the alleged involvement of their owners in a 2013 betting scandal.
The yellow-garbed side will once again be based around a core of experienced Indian players – MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina – with overseas stars Dwayne Bravo and Faf du Plessis also returning.
However, Chennai have picked up two exciting English players in the shape of inventive batsman Sam Billings and out-and-out pace bowler Mark Wood. Billings has turned out before for Delhi Daredevils, but it’s a first IPL for Wood, who will compete against South Africa’s Lungi Ngidi for a spot.
Steven Fleming’s side are a traditional power in the IPL and with tournament favourite Shane Watson a likely shoo-in, and while both Billings and Wood could well spend plenty of time warming the bench, the withdrawal of Mitchell Santner due to injury might indirectly open up a spot for either of them.
Who? Consistent underperformers
Why should I support them? Should be fireworks
English players? Jason Roy, Liam Plunkett
Delhi Daredevils are the kind of side who tend to only look good on paper. The team from the Feroz Shah Kotla have been remarkably consistent at underachieving, with every season resembling the last. The previous five seasons read: 6th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th.
But with Ricky Ponting at the helm for the first time, following a successful stint with Mumbai Indians, they really should do better this season.
Explosive batting? Tick: Jason Roy, Colin Munro, Glenn Maxwell.
Steady sensible batting? Tick: Gautam Gambir.
Good young Indian players? Tick: Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant and Under 19 World Cup winners Manjot Kalra and Prithvi Shaw.
Fast bowlers? Tick: Trent Boult, Mohammed Shami. They recently lost Kagiso Rabada to injury, but replaced him with Liam Plunkett.
Whether they win – or given their history, more likely – lose, it’s sure to be fun.
Kings XI Punjab
Who? Australian representative team
Why should I support them? A Virender Sehwag side won’t be dull
English players? None
The owners of the Kings XI Punjab obviously watched a lot of the Big Bash. They have recruited Aaron Finch, Ben Dwarshius, Andrew Tye and Marcus Stoinis to form an Aussie collective in the north of the country.
There are no English players to cheer on, but there is Chris Gayle and Yuvraj Singh for big-hitting fans and skipper Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel for spin bowling fans.
Like Delhi, Kings XI have never won the tournament. They probably won’t this year either, but with Virender Sehwag in charge as coach it should be entertaining.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Who? A David Hasselhoff-loving, Bollywood-owned success story
Why should I support them? If you’re a fan of cheesy 80s TV
English players? Tom Curran
Kolkata Knight Riders decided not to pick Chris Woakes this year and Eoin Morgan is long gone, so there was no English connection to look for until the 11th hour, when an injury to Australia’s Mitchell Starc led to Surrey seamer and death specialist Tom Curran getting a call-up to the big league.
There is still a rapid left-arm Mitchell for Aussie supporters to get behind though, with Johnson on the books at KKR and likely to spearhead the pace attack in Starc’s absence.
Sunil Narine stunned the tournament last year by turning into a superb pinch-hitter at the top of the order and still has a mystery to his bowling, while Chris Lynn and Andre Russell smack it a mile.
Former player Jacques Kallis is coaching this year, with the grumpy Gautam Gambir gone. A repeat of their wins in 2012 and 2014 could be on the cards.
Who? Real Madrid and New England Patriots rolled into one
Why should I support them? Because you value winning above all else
English players? None
Mumbai, the most successful side in IPL history with three wins, will look to defend their title this time out.
Their side is formed around India regulars Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya. There’s no Lasith Malinga or Harbhajan Singh this year, but Kieron Pollard is still around to represent the old guard.
Jos Buttler and Mitchell McClenaghan have both been done away with, meaning it’s down to Ben Cutting, JP Duminy and Evin Lewis to step up.
Mustafizur Rahman’s left-arm wizardry will be great to watch and the friendly face of Mahela Jayawardene will look on from the dugout.
Who? Shane Warne’s boys
Why should I support them? Engerrland, Engerrland, naahhh naaahhh
English players? Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler
Like Chennai, Rajastan return after two years in the wilderness due to a spot-fixing scandal that involved three of their former players.
Don’t let that put you off though, because the new incarnation of the side has the lot. A core of exciting English players – and it doesn’t get more exciting than Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler – is complimented by two of the Big Bash’s breakout players in D’Arcy Short and Ben Laughlin.
Steve Smith is no longer captain following the ball tampering scandal, but Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Sampson provide the Indian talent.
If Archer repeats his performances for Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash, England fans will be in for a real treat.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Who? The Kohli-de Villiers fan club
Why should I support them? If you’re from Birmingham
English players? Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes
Two polite lads from Birmingham will step into the hysteria of the Chinnaswamy Stadium this season. While Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes face a challenge to make the starting XI, they both have plenty to offer.
Bangalore, somehow, have never won the IPL. That’s despite having Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers as the two star players for several years. Three 2nd place finishes and two 3rd place finishes have left the franchise trophy-less.
This year, as ever, looks like it could be the one to change all that. Brendon McCullum, Quinton de Kock, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee and Nathan Coulter-Nile complete the overseas roster, while Indian talent comes in the form of Yuzvendra Chahal, Sarfaraz Khan and Umesh Yadav.
The form of Kohli himself is arguably a big enough factor to expect big things from RCB.
Who? Formerly the Deccan Chargers
Why should I support them? If you’re fond of Afghanistan
English players? Alex Hales, Chris Jordan
The Sunrisers won the 2016 edition of the IPL, with David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan blazing a trail at the top of the order and Bhuvneshwar Kumar picking up wickets. Those pieces were still in place until David Warner was dumped and replaced with England’s Alex Hales. Hales had originally missed out at the player auction before opting to give up red-ball cricket in England. He now has a chance to prove himself worthy of inclusion.
Chris Jordan’s all-round potential, with bat, ball and, as has been evident recently, in the field should get him some game-time too.
Sunrisers have added plenty of other new faces too. Afghanistan pair Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan are excellent additions, while World Cup winner Carlos Braithwaite, consistent run-scorer Kane Williamson, canny all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan and pace bowler Billy Stanlake are also present.