Whether or not you are ready for the onslaught of on-screen ads, flames, and cheerleaders, the Indian Premier League returns for its 8th installment this Wednesday when Kolkata takes on Mumbai at Eden Gardens in the curtain-raiser. There is plenty to say about the Indian Premier League and T20 cricket in general, but any competitive cricket is a welcomed after what has seemed like ages since the World Cup Final ( which was actually only a week ago).
There has been quite a bit of player movement this offseason along with the departure of Kevin Pietersen from the IPL in favor of a return to England in hopes of making it back into the good graces of the ECB. In addition, Yuvraj Singh was let go by RCB and picked up by the Daredevils. South African all rounder Jacques Kallis goes from player to coach with the Knight Riders after playing in the first 7 installments of the IPL. Chennai went out an got Michael Hussey after a disappointing IPL 7 with Mumbai as well as Kyle Abbott, who comes off a solid World Cup with the Proteas.
Enough about the comings and goings though, it is time for a prediction on the playoffs and eventual IPL 8 champion.
The Kolkata Knight Riders return to IPL 8 the defending champions and should easily qualify for the playoffs again with the likes of opening batsman Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey as well as Morne Morkel bowling.
The second best team this year will be Chennai Super Kings who will benefit from the likes of MS Dhoni, Brendon McCullum and Faf du Plessis. The latter two coming off great performances during the World Cup last month.
As for the 3rd and 4th qualifying teams, this is the year Royal Challengers Bangalore finally break through the ceiling. They simply have too much talent to continue to disappoint. With Chris Gayle opening and Virat Kohli pairing with AB de Villiers at 3 and 4, they should not have any issues scoring runs as well as getting wickets with Mitchell Starc bowling. RCB will be under the guidance of recently-retired New Zealand legend, Daniel Vettori.
Sunrisers Hyderabad, our websites namesake, will round out the playoff field. Yes, they lost Kevin Pietersen to the County Championship, but they will make up that batting prowess with the likes of Kane Williamson, Eoin Morgan, and captain David Warner. The addition of Trent Boult to an already solid bowling attack with the likes of Dale Steyn should see Hyderabad into the playoffs as the 4th seed.
As for how the playoffs will shake out… Chennai will defeat Kolkata in the first match while RCB will overcome Hyderabad in the eliminator match and Kolkata in the second qualifier.
Chennai Super Kings versus Royal Challengers Bangalore for the IPL 8 crown at Eden Gardens will see RCB throw off the proverbial gorilla on their back and win their first Indian Premier League title. Feel free to run to your bookie with this information.