Virat Kohli struck the last ball of a Super Over for four to seal a thrilling Indian Premier League win for Royal Challengers Bangalore after Ishan Kishan and Kieron Pollard gave Mumbai Indians hope.

Royal Challengers posted an imposing 201-3 after being put in at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Monday courtesy of half-centuries from Devdutt Padikkal (54), Aaron Finch (52) and AB de Villiers (55).

The brilliant Washington Sundar (1-12) struck a huge blow by dismissing Rohit Sharma in the second over of the run chase and Mumbai looked beaten at 78-4 in the 12th over.

However, Kishan and Pollard astonishing forcedly a tie after putting on 119 for the fifth wicket off just 8.3 overs, the former making 99 off 58 balls – including nine sixes – before he was out off the penultimate delivery.

Pollard (60 not out from 23) brought the scores level with a four off the last ball – making it the highest tied score in an IPL contest – when the Indians were five down, but RCB were not to be denied victory.

Indians duo Pollard and Hardik Pandya could only take seven from Navdeep Saini's Super Over and Jasprit Bumrah was unable to keep it so tight, boundaries from the in-form De Villiers and Kohli giving RCB a second win out of three.

 

KOHLI FAILS AGAIN AS REST OF RCB TOP ORDER CASH IN

Despite hitting the winning runs, Kohli looked out of sorts again as he made just three from 11 balls before the tie-breaker, Rahul Chahar getting the India captain caught at short cover.

Padikkal and Finch had put on 81 for the first wicket in nine overs and De Villiers cashed in on a great track with some magnificent clean striking, hitting four sixes and as many fours.

Shivam Dube got in on the act with an unbeaten 27 off just 10 balls, clearing the ropes three times, as RCB reached 200 for the 17th time when batting first – six more times than any other team.

 

KISHAN AND POLLARD PRODUCE STUNNING BLITZ

It looked to be game over when Pandya fell to Adam Zampa in the 12th over of the run chase, leaving Mumbai four down and with a mountain to climb.

Sundar – who did not concede a boundary from his four overs – saw the back of Rohit before debutant Isuru Udana struck twice, with substitute fielder Pawan Negi taking three catches.

Kishan and Pollard had other ideas, with the West Indies all-rounder hitting the last ball of the 20th over for four after Kishan had struck Udana for back-to-back sixes before being caught in the deep on 99.

 

KOHLI HAS THE LAST LAUGH

It has been a poor start for Kohli, but he had the last laugh by whipping his India team-mate Bumrah for four when needing just one to win off the last ball.

De Villiers, on the other hand, is in great nick and also found the rope off the fourth ball from Bumrah after Saini halted Mumbai's momentum.

Rajasthan Royals pulled off the highest run chase in the history of the Indian Premier League against Kings XI Punjab, overshadowing a superb century from Mayank Agarwal.

Steve Smith, Sanju Samson and Rahul Tewatia all made key contributions with the bat as the Royals pulled off a stunning four-wicket triumph to make it two from two in the early stages of the 2020 season. 

Agarwal shared in an opening stand worth 183 with in-form skipper KL Rahul as he made a magnificent 106, helping Kings XI post 223-2 after being put into bat.

Nicholas Pooran produced a late cameo, making 25 from just eight deliveries, though his most notable contribution came later in the field with a gravity-defying stop in the deep.

Rajasthan lost Jos Buttler early in their reply, yet captain Smith made 50 in a hurry to make sure his team remained up with the required rate. 

Samson top scored with 85 from just 42 deliveries but, after he became the first of three wickets for seamer Mohammed Shami, Tewatia took over. 

The left-hander vindicated his unexpected promotion up the order, overcoming a sluggish start to blast his team towards their target. Sheldon Cottrell suffered the most, taken for five sixes in an over that cost 30. 

Jofra Archer smashed two maximums to finish 13 not out before fellow England international Tom Curran delivered the winning blow, sending his first ball to the boundary midway through the last over.

 

OPENERS CAUSE ROYAL ISSUES

Having made 132 not out against Bangalore Royal Challengers last time, right-hander Rahul was again in the runs for Kings XI.

The India batsman made 69 from 54 deliveries but played second fiddle to opening partner Agarwal, who hit seven sixes and 10 fours to reach three figures from just 49 deliveries.

Their partnership is the third highest for the first wicket in the competition, while this was Agarwal's maiden IPL century.

POORAN TAKES OFF

Samson appeared to have hit Murugan Ashwin for six when he launched the spinner deep to midwicket in the eighth over of the Royals' innings.

However, Pooran had other ideas. Leaping backwards beyond the boundary, he managed to catch the ball before flicking it back into play prior to him hitting the ground, timing the release to perfection.

COTTRELL GOES THE DISTANCE

Tewatia, whose solitary over with the ball went for 19 runs, had 17 to his name from 23 balls at one stage. Then, with 51 required from the final three overs, everything changed - most notably his strike-rate.

He certainly took a liking to Cottrell's bowling, turning what appeared to be a tall order into a straightforward equation.

A solitary dot ball spared the left-armer completing the unwanted full set of sixes in the over, but the sudden onslaught turned the game at a crucial stage. 

Shubman Gill made a brilliant unbeaten half-century to steer Kolkata Knight Riders to a seven-wicket Indian Premier League win over Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday.

Both sides had lost their first game of the tournament and it was KKR who got up and running at Sheikh Zayed Stadium, where Sunrisers could only post 142-4 after David Warner won the toss and opted to bat.

Manish Pandey top scored with 51 from 38 balls and Warner made 36, but Pat Cummins (1-19) and Varun Chakravarthy (1-25) were the standout bowlers in a fine performance in the field from the Knight Riders.

KKR stayed ahead of the run-rate in reply, but there was work to do when they were 53-3 in the seventh over in Abu Dhabi.

Star spinner Rashid Khan trapped captain Dinesh Karthik leg before for a duck to leave the Knight Riders three down, Sunil Narine having also gone without scoring and Nitish Rana (26) caught behind off Thangarasu Natarajan.

Gill (70no from 62) and Eoin Morgan (42no off 29) then combined for a match-winning unbroken stand of 92 to get Kolkata home with two overs to spare.

That leaves Sunrisers as the only team without a point early in the tournament.

CUMMINS SPOILS BAIRSTOW'S BIRTHDAY

Jonny Bairstow was unable to celebrate his 31st birthday with an explosive knock, departing for only five off 10 balls.

The England batsman might have thought it was his day when he successfully reviewed after being given out to Cummins, but he was cleaned up off the next ball from the Australia quick.

Cummins, who went for 49 from three overs in a loss to Mumbai Indians three days earlier, was outstanding and deserved more than just the one wicket, bowling 11 dot balls in four excellent overs.

Bairstow's opening partner Warner was looking in great touch until he was caught and bowled by Chakravarthy.

 

YOUTH AND EXPERIENCE GET KKR HOME

The 21-year-old Gill reached his half-century off 42 balls and saw it through with great support from the vastly experienced Morgan.

Gill and England's ODI World Cup-winning captain Morgan both struck two sixes as they took the game away from Sunrisers.

The powerful Morgan finished the game in the style, dispatching Natarajan over long-on for six and hitting the next ball for four to finish it off.

Gill, who also found the rope five times, was named man of the match after giving another demonstration of his considerable promise.

Kagiso Rabada starred once again after Prithvi Shaw blasted a blistering half-century as Delhi Capitals beat Chennai Super Kings by 44 runs to go top of the Indian Premier League.

Rabada took two wickets for as many runs in a Super Over to set up a victory over Kings XI Punjab in the Capitals' first game of the tournament last Sunday.

The South Africa paceman was outstanding once again at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday, taking 3-26 to restrict Chennai to 131-7 in reply to 175-3.

Shaw earlier smashed 64 off 43 balls, while Shikhar Dhawan (35) and Rishabh Pant (37 not out) also chipped in to get Delhi every chance of making it two wins out of two.

Opener Shaw and Dhawan put on 94 for the first wicket off just 10.4 overs, but Piyush Chawla (2-33) and Sam Curran (1-27) helped to keep the Capitals under the 200 mark they looked set to reach.

The Super Kings never looked like reaching their target, Faf du Plessis top scoring with 43 before he was removed by Rabada, who also got rid of MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja in the final over.

Rabada's compatriot Anrich Nortje took 2-21 from a brilliant four overs for CSK, who have now lost two out of three, as the Capitals moved to the summit. 

UNWANTED RECORD FOR JADEJA, SHAW CUTS LOOSE

Shaw and Dhawan laid the platform for Delhi's comfortable victory with an entertaining opening stand.

It was no fun for Jadeja, who saw Dhawan clatter his first ball for six over midwicket and Shaw sweep him over the ropes in a second over that went for 15.

Jadeja's four overs cost 44 runs and he failed to take a wicket, becoming the first spinner to concede at least 40 runs in three successive IPL matches.

Shaw was named man of the match, having hit nine fours as well as that big six in masterful knock before Dhoni stumped him off Chawla in the 13th over.

 

LANDMARK FOR DU PLESSIS AS SOUTH AFRICANS TAKE CENTRE STAGE

Du Plessis reached the 2,000 IPL runs landmark but he was never going to be celebrating with a victory.

His fellow South Africans Rabada and Nortje did the bulk of the damage in the run chase, bowling 23 dot balls between them and taking key wickets.

Axar Patel also set the tone, with his four overs costing only 18 runs and he also took the wicket of Shane Watson.

KL Rahul punished Virat Kohli for a pair of drops by scoring the first century of the IPL season as Kings XI Punjab crushed Royal Challengers Bangalore by 97 runs in Dubai.

Kings XI captain Rahul spearheaded a dominant victory for his team – their first of the campaign – making an unbeaten 132 off 69 balls in a stunning display of big hitting.

The India international made 42 off his last nine deliveries as RCB were severely punished at the death, their last two overs from Dale Steyn (0-57) and Shivam Dube (2-33) going for 49.

Rahul brought up his ton in an incredible penultimate over that saw him plunder 26 off Steyn, as Kings XI surged from 157-3 to 206-3 at the end of their innings.

RCB paid a heavy price for captain Kohli twice dropping Rahul, first when he was on 83 again when he was on 90 and gearing up for a phenomenal late flurry.

Bangalore never looked like matching the tally. They were reduced to 3-4 when Sheldon Cottrell (17-2) removed Kohli for one, with Washington Sundar (30) and AB de Villiers (28) the only players to score more than 20 as they were skittled for 109.

 

RECORD-BREAKING RAHUL

By surpassing Rishabh Pant's unbeaten 128 for Delhi Daredevils in 2018, Rahul set a record for the highest score by an Indian batsman in the IPL.

De Villiers (133no), Brendon McCullum (158no) and Chris Gayle (175no) are the only players to have bettered Rahul's knock in the competition.

He finished with 14 fours and seven maximums.

NO WAY BACK

When Kohli sliced Cottrell to Ravi Bishnoi after Devdutt Padikkal sent the West Indies left-armer to the same man at mid-on, RCB were left with a mountain to climb.

Bishnoi (3-32) also claimed the scalps of Aaron Finch (20), Umesh Yadav (0) and Sundar to cap an impressive display, but the pick of the bowlers was Murugan Ashwin.

His leg spin accounted for De Villiers and put RCB out of their misery, with Navdeep Saini (6) and Yuzvendra Chahal (1) the final wickets to fall as Ashwin finished with figures of 3-21 from his three overs.

West Indies all-rounder Jason Holder will get a chance to appear at this season’s India Premier League (IPL) after being earmarked to replace injured Australian Mitchell Marsh.

Marsh, who was drafted by Sunrisers Hyderabad, was ruled out of the tournament after injuring his ankle in the team’s first match of the season.

As a result, Holder, who will perhaps be looking to make up for a disappointing outing in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), has been tipped to make his fourth IPL appearance.  It will be the second for the Sunrisers, but he has previously featured for the Chennai Super Kings and the Kolkata Knight Riders.

Holder, who was replaced as West Indies T20 captain by Kieron Pollard last year, had a base price of INR 75 lakh ($US100,000), in the December IPL auction but went unsold more than once.

In the most recent CPL campaign, he led the Barbados Tridents to a fifth-place finish in the six-team table. Holder scored 192 runs at a strike rate of 140.14, and also picked up ten wickets at an economy rate of 6.63.  He will be required to undergo a six-day quarantine before joining up with the rest of the team.

Rohit Sharma's rapid 80 steered Mumbai Indians to a convincing 49-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders in Wednesday's Indian Premier League clash.

The opener played a blinding captain's innings with his knock at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi coming off just 54 deliveries.

Rohit put on 90 runs with Suryakumar Yadav (47) for a second-wicket stand that frustrated the Knight Riders, who at least restricted Mumbai under 200.

Saurabh Tiwary (21) and Hardik Pandya (18) added valuable runs in a total of 195-5 that Kolkata never got near.

The impressive Jasprit Bumrah (2-32) dismissed Kolkata danger men Andre Russell (11) and Eoin Morgan (16) before they even got going.

Kolkata eventually posted 146-9 in reply, some way short of their target to start their campaign with a defeat, while Mumbai rebounded from an opening loss to Chennai Super Kings.


YOU SIXY THING, ROHIT

Rohit's knock included six sixes and three fours, with the unfortunate Kuldeep Yadav smacked straight over the ropes twice in the 14th over.

He now has 200 maximums in the IPL, 12 shy of MS Dhoni in third place on the all-time list, but still 126 short of leader Chris Gayle.


BUMRAH DOES THE BUSINESS

Trent Boult, James Pattinson and Rahul Chahar each also finished with two wickets in an all-round effort from Mumbai's bowling team.

Russell and Morgan were well capable of getting Kolkata, who had slipped to 77-4, back into the match but Bumrah broke up a potentially dangerous partnership in the 16th over.

Bumrah knocked back Russell's leg stump before Morgan edged behind, leaving Mumbai to close on a first victory in the UAE from six attempts.

Sanju Samson and Steve Smith powered Rajasthan Royals to a 16-run victory over Chennai Super Kings in their opening fixture of the Indian Premier League season.

CSK kicked off the IPL's 13th season with a five-wicket win over Mumbai Indians, however, they were comfortably second best on Tuesday in Sharjah.

Samson and captain Smith laid the foundation for Rajasthan with a second-wicket partnership of 121 as they set CSK a target of 217.

Had CSK triumphed it would have marked the highest successful chase in IPL history.

However, they never came close to doing so despite an opening partnership of 56 between Shane Watson and Murali Vijay and a powerful 37-ball 72 from Faf du Plessis.

Three sixes in the final over from MS Dhoni saw the record for most maximums in an IPL match tied as the teams combined for 33.

A comfortable Rajasthan success did not appear on the cards when opener Yashasvi Jaiswal fell for six in the third over.

But Samson (74) and Smith (69) tipped the balance of the contest firmly in favour of Rajasthan.

Samson was in destructive form as he bludgeoned the CSK attack, a four and nine sixes marking a devastating 32-ball stay at the crease.

Lungi Ngidi dismissed Samson when a wide delivery outside off was hit to deep cover and David Miller was run out for a duck two balls later.

Smith held the innings together until he fell with 10 balls remaining, with Jofra Archer then adding the finishing touches as he struck Ngidi for four successive sixes - including two off no-balls - in a final over that went for 30.

Rahul Tewatia dealt with the dangerous Watson, whose 33 comprised of four sixes, sending a delivery crashing into his leg stump.

Shreyas Gopal removed Murali (21) five balls later before Tewatia had Sam Curran and Ruturaj Gaikwad stumped in successive deliveries.

Kedar Jadhav's (22) exit left an unlikely fightback on the shoulders of the experienced duo of Du Plessis and Dhoni.

Du Plessis did the heavy lifting in spectacular fashion, with three sixes in the 17th over giving CSK faint hope that was snuffed out when an Archer bouncer did him for pace.

 

Smith shows his class

Smith returned from a head injury suffered during Australia's recent limited-overs tour of England and did so in fine fashion, scoring his first half-century in any format since February.

Archer adds crucial runs

Archer's incredible final-over contribution made sure a mammoth total was out of reach for CSK and he then produced a brilliant bouncer to remove the in-form Du Plessis and put the contest to bed.

Sunrisers Hyderabad suffered a remarkable collapse as they slumped to a 10-run defeat to Royal Challengers Bangalore in their Indian Premier League opener.

Chasing 164, Sunrisers looked on course to ease towards that target with Jonny Bairstow in superb form and set at the crease on 61.

However, Bairstow's decision to attack a Yuzvendra Chahal (3-18) delivery turned the tide as he was skittled for the first of eight wickets in 26 balls.

Vijay Shankar fell for a duck from the next delivery before Priyam Garg went for 12 and Abhishek Sharma (7) was victim to an incredible mix-up with Rashid Khan (6).

With Mitchell Marsh nursing an injury and demoted down the batting line-up, the lower order wilted, giving RCB a stunning start to their quest for a first IPL title.

Earlier, fifties from Devdutt Padikkal (56) and AB de Villiers (51) helped RCB to 163-5 from their 20 overs.

That total did not look like being defended as the brilliant Bairstow put Sunrisers, who lost opener David Warner (6) to a second-over run-out, in an excellent position.

He hit six fours and a pair of sixes to guide Sunrisers to 121-2 in the 16th over before his ill-advised heave allowed Chahal's floaty delivery to clatter into leg stump.

A googly then removed Shankar first ball and, though Chahal did not claim a hat-trick, Garg soon departed after a failed attempt to ramp Shivam Dube (2-15).

Sharma was run out in absurd fashion as he collided with Rashid, who needed several minutes of treatment before continuing.

He followed Bhuvneshwar Kumar (0) in being bowled by Navdeep Saini (2-25) in the next over as Sunrisers faded badly.

Marsh, who badly sprained his ankle in RCB's innings, did not come in until number 10 and was caught at long-on off his first ball and had to be helped from the field.

RCB's win was then wrapped up in the final over as Sandeep Sharma (9) was caught in the deep by skipper Virat Kohli off Dale Steyn (1-33).


Paddikal proves his worth

The exciting Paddikal got the nod to open alongside Aaron Finch ahead of Parthiv Patel and vindicated that decision with an excellent innings. With Kohli and the explosive De Villiers also in the XI, RCB have a potent batting line-up that possesses the potential to deliver in more devastating fashion than they did in Dubai.

Chahal starts collapse

Seeing off the last over of Chahal, one of the most dangerous bowlers in the IPL with over 100 wickets in the competition, was always likely to be key for Bairstow and Sunrisers. He failed to do so and his poor shot proved a decisive error. Still, even the England international could not have predicted the manner in which Sunrisers collapsed.

Delhi Capitals made the most of a stunning late collapse by Kings XI Punjab to triumph in a super over at the end of an IPL thriller on Sunday. 

Marcus Stoinis made 53 from 21 deliveries as Delhi recovered from a shocking start to post 157-8, though their fightback appeared in vain when their opponents matched their total with three balls to spare. 

However, needing just one more run to prevail, Kings XI were somehow unable to get over the line, losing wickets off the final two deliveries. 

Mayank Agarwal was the first of those to depart having made a superb 89, the opener rescuing his side after they had slipped to 55-5 in their reply. 

He hit 10 runs off Stoinis' first three deliveries at the start of the 20th over, but the bowler hit back when a wide full toss was slapped to Shimron Hetmyer in the deep.

Chris Jordan then clipped a full toss straight to Kagiso Rabada at square leg to leave the scores level, meaning a super over was required to decide the outcome of a see-saw contest.

Kings XI managed two runs off the opening ball but Rabada then claimed a pair of wickets, leaving Delhi needing three. They easily reached the paltry target to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. 

STOINIS STUNS KINGS XI

Having come together at 13-3, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant made 39 and 31 respectively. Still, when both fell in successive balls, the Capitals were reeling at 87-5.

Stoinis, though, emphatically changed the tempo of the innings. Kings XI leaked 57 from the final three overs – including 30 off the last, bowled by Chris Jordan – as Delhi finished with a flourish.

PAINFUL OUTING FOR ASHWIN

Playing against his former franchise, Ravichandran Ashwin's involvement was cut short when he suffered an apparent shoulder injury.

The India spinner claimed two wickets in his opening over before getting hurt when diving to stop a ball, forcing him to leave the field with his left arm in a makeshift sling.

PAIR FOR POORAN

It is not often you get to bat twice in a Twenty20 game. However, Nicholas Pooran failed to capitalise on either opportunity he had for Kings XI.

The West Indies batsman was dismissed by Ashwin first time around and then, called into action again in the super over, was cleaned up first ball by Rabada.

Ambati Rayudu and Faf du Plessis led the way as Chennai Super Kings won the IPL opener and exacted a measure of revenge for their 2019 final loss to Mumbai Indians in Abu Dhabi.

In a repeat of the final of the previous edition of the IPL - when Mumbai beat the then-defending champions Chennai by a single run - the Super Kings chased down 163 to win.

They did so despite losing openers Shane Watson and Murali Vijay in the first two overs of their reply as Rayudu smashed 71 off 48 and shared a third-wicket stand of 115 with Du Plessis.

The South African finished unbeaten on 58 to see his side home alongside scoreless Chennai captain MS Dhoni, with the India great - who recently retired from international cricket - playing for the first time since the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

The defending champions made a strong start and were 46 without loss in the fifth over, but no one was able to go on and make a big total as Saurabh Tiwary top-scored with 42.

Mumbai were 46-6 across the final seven overs of their innings as they made 162-9, with Lungi Ngidi taking 3-38.

The partnership between Rayudu and Du Plessis proved pivotal, though the former perished when caught and bowled by Rahul Chahar with the final ball of the 16th over.

England all-rounder Sam Curran, making his debut for the Super Kings, stepped in at six and his 18 from six balls brought Chennai to the verge of victory.

For once, Dhoni was not 'the finisher' as he failed to score off the two balls he faced, with Du Plessis instead striking back-to-back fours to give Chennai victory with four balls to spare - their first win over Mumbai in five attempts.

 

ANOTHER OPENING LOSS FOR MUMBAI

The Indians have won the IPL a record four times, but this was the eighth year in a row in which they had lost their opening game of the tournament.

DHONI SURVIVES FIRST-BALL DUCK

It had been 437 days since Dhoni last took to the crease - in India's World Cup semi-final loss to New Zealand - and he only just survived a first-ball duck. He was initially given out after appearing to feather a Jasprit Bumrah bouncer behind, but the decision was overturned and Dhoni was there at the end, though, for once, he was not the one bringing it home.

Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming hopes to draw strength from a nightmare build-up to the IPL season ahead of Saturday's opener against Mumbai Indians.

Fleming is without Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh, who opted out of the tournament that has been moved to the UAE amid the on-going effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ruturaj Gaikwad and Deepak Chahar also tested positive for COVID-19, along with several members of support staff, while a number of Fleming's first-choice personnel - the likes of Shane Watson, MS Dhoni and Ambati Rayudu - are short of competitive action due to the wider realities of 2020.

"It has been different, and that's been part of the challenge - understanding the unknown," Fleming said.

"We didn't get off to a great start, with some positive COVID-19 cases, but I think we dealt with it very well.

"We were calm around our approach, looked after the players and staff very well, and the rest of the players were calm in the hotel room. There was a bit of anxiety wanting to get out and train.

"It is what it is, and the players dealt with it very well. In hindsight, the amount of pre-season training that we've done up to now, and the extra few days in the room, was probably a blessing."

Mumbai's reasons for trepidation are more historically based.

The last time the IPL was moved to the UAE in 2014, they lost each of their five games.

"We didn't have a great experience last time yes, but it's a different team now," skipper Rohit Sharma said.

"The thought process is different. Six years is a lot of time. Like I said, it's about understanding pitches and conditions, that is crucial so we are putting a lot of emphasis on that.

"Eventually the pitches will play a big part, so understanding and adapting quickly is important. But yes, the past won't play any part - it was just myself, Kieron Pollard and Jasprit Bumrah from that team.

"I think Bumrah played just one game. So the team is different, the staff is different [and] thought process is different. Looking forward to a great IPL."

The Indian Premier League returns this weekend, with the creme de la creme of the sport in the United Arab Emirates for the marquee Twenty20 competition of franchise cricket.

Mumbai Indians, the defending champions, face Chennai Super Kings in Saturday's curtain-raiser, which is a repeat of the 2019 final.

Here, we take a look at the players who should light up the tournament.

 

VIRAT KOHLI (Royal Challengers Bangalore)

No man has more IPL runs than RCB captain Kohli, whose 5,412 have been accrued at an average of 37.84 across his 117 matches.

Key Stat: India superstar Kohli is the only batsman in the history of T20 internationals to average more than 50 (50.80) among those with a minimum of 20 innings.

MS DHONI (Chennai Super Kings)

He may have retired from international duty, but Chennai skipper Dhoni is not calling time on his IPL career just yet. You feel the 'finisher' will want to end with a flourish.

Key Stat: Dhoni has made the most runs as a captain (4,142) among the eight skippers. Rajasthan Royals captain Steve Smith is the only man to have a better win percentage (65.5 per cent) than Dhoni's 59.8 per cent too.

JASPRIT BUMRAH (Mumbai Indians)

Player of the match in the 2019 final, it was Bumrah's 2-14 that proved pivotal to Mumbai's success. The seamer has mastered the art of death bowling.

Key stat: No one bowled more balls at the death (overs 17-20) than Bumrah's 172 deliveries in 2019. He had an economy of just 7.7 during that period. 

ANDRE RUSSELL (Kolkata Knight Riders)

West Indian all-rounder Russell is a box office draw for Kolkata Knight Riders having averaged 56.7 with the bat last year.

Key stat: Russell made 510 runs in 2019, of which 85.5 per cent were made from boundaries. That was the biggest percentage for those to have made at least 20 runs.

ROHIT SHARMA (Mumbai Indians)

A record four-time winner of the IPL as Mumbai captain, Rohit made 52 fours last season - the most of his 12-year IPL career.

Key stat: Rohit is 102 runs away from becoming the third batsman to reach 5,000 IPL runs after Kohli and Suresh Raina.

DAVID WARNER (Sunrisers Hyderabad)

Last season Warner won the Orange Cap - awarded to the IPL's leading run-scorer - for a record third time after amassing 692 runs, 99 more than anyone else in the tournament.

Key stat: Warner has now accumulated at least 600 runs in three separate campaigns. Chris Gayle (also three) is the only other batsman to have done so more than once.

DEEPAK CHAHAR (Chennai Super Kings)

Chahar had a breakthrough campaign with the Super Kings last year, claiming 22 wickets - a figure only South African duo Imran Tahir and Kagiso Rabada could better.

Key stat: The seamer bowled 64.3 overs in 2019 and 49 per cent of his deliveries were dot balls - the highest figure among those who bowled at least 10 overs.

KAGISO RABADA (Delhi Capitals)

The Proteas quick made his mark in the IPL last season when he took 25 wickets in the Capitals' run to the semi-finals.

Key stat: Of those who bowled at least 10 overs, Rabada had the best average (14.72) while he and international team-mate Tahir were the only two bowlers to have more than one four-wicket haul.

The Indian Premier League season that many feared would never happen is about to get started.

Where there is a will, and where hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake, there is usually a way.

And IPL chiefs have taken extreme measures to ensure the 2020 campaign goes ahead, taking the league and its teams to the United Arab Emirates for the next eight weeks.

The tournament that brought new levels of razzmatazz to Twenty20 cricket is set to begin behind closed doors, with Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah staging the games.

Can defending champions Mumbai Indians defy the pattern of their previous odd-year successes and retain the trophy, and if not then who will come through?

Here is a look, using Opta numbers, at what we should be looking forward to during the 13th edition of the game-changing league.

The oddest of years is an even year. Does that spell trouble for Mumbai?

Mumbai Indians have become the IPL's dominant franchise, and it is they and Chennai Super Kings who are most widely fancied to take the silverware this year.

Saturday's opener between those sides is a re-match of last year's astounding final, when Lasith Malinga pinned Shardul Thakur lbw from the final ball to nail a one-run win for Mumbai.

Two statistics leap out ahead of the reunion: Mumbai have beaten Chennai in eight of their last nine IPL clashes, including the last five; however, Mumbai have lost their last seven season openers.

Mumbai's last season-opening win came in 2012 – an eight-wicket success against... Chennai Super Kings.

In the last seven IPL seasons, Mumbai have been champions four times, but each time they have followed a title success with a relatively fallow year, finishing fourth, fifth and fifth again between their 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019 success. If the pattern of triumphing in odd years and missing out in even years holds, we are looking for another team to hoist the trophy in November.

Only one team have successfully defended the IPL title, with Chennai achieving back-to-back triumphs in 2010 and 2011.

Will we have new champions?

Of the five franchises to appear in every IPL edition, three of them are yet to win to the competition: Delhi Capitals, Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore.

It is worth bearing in mind the IPL has visited the UAE before, when 20 games were moved to avoid a clash in 2014 with India's general election.

And Kings XI Punjab will look on that time fondly, having won all five of their matches in the UAE. Mumbai, in stark contrast, lost each of their five contests during that sojourn.

Delhi, as they prepare to begin their 2020 campaign, are three defeats away from becoming the first team to lose 100 matches in the competition.

Are there records on the line?

Sunrisers Hyderabad captain David Warner and Kings XI Punjab showman Chris Gayle are two of the most exhilarating players in the league. Warner last year matched Gayle's record feat of scoring 600-plus runs in three separate IPL seasons when he scored 692 in just 12 innings, so the race is on to see if either man can go above 600 for a fourth time.

Mumbai's Rohit Sharma is 102 short of becoming the third batsman to reach 5,000 runs in his IPL career, while Warner is 294 away from that landmark. The all-time leading run-scorers in the competition are Virat Kohli (5,412) and Suresh Raina (5,368).

Can you keep a tight line?

In a format known for its ferocious hitting, is it possible to stifle teams late in an innings?

Yorker specialist Jasprit Bumrah found a way for Mumbai in 2019, bowling a competition-high 172 balls at the death (overs 17-20) and recording a highly respectable economy rate of 7.7 in those games.

His figures of 2-14 from four overs in last year's final were testament to his talent for keeping run-hungry batsmen tied down. More of the same could keep Mumbai competitive in 2020.

Andre Russell is perhaps the most destructive batsmen in T20 cricket. Batting in the lower order for whichever team he is playing for, the powerful Jamaican can change the course of a game in just a few overs.

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