Mumbai Indians will begin the defence of their Vivo Indian Premier League title when they face Chennai Super Kings in the opening match of the new season on Saturday April 7
IPL 2018: Lowdown on teams, including returning Chennai and Rajasthan, and their key players
Chennai Super Kings
Last season: Suspended
Pedigree: Back after a two-year ban imposed for their owners’ part in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing case. Despite their time away, CSK remain the second most successful IPL side ever, with two titles and five final appearances in total.
Key Indian player: Ravindra Jadeja. Like MS Dhoni, Jadeja is back at the side with whom he enjoyed great success in the past, having spent the suspension seasons with Gujarat Lions.
Key overseas player: Imran Tahir. The Pakistan-born South Africa leg-spinner must have more shirts than Gap, given the number of teams he has played for. He was a hit with Rising Pune Supergiant last season.
Last season: Sixth
Pedigree: The fact they have never won the IPL title is a chronic underachievement for the side representing India’s capital city. Third place in 2009 and 2012 is the best they have managed, and they were way off again last season.
Key Indian player: Rishabh Pant. Now 20, and a year on since he announced himself with some blistering hitting at the top of the Daredevils batting order, he was one of the top bids at the 2018 auction.
Key overseas player: Trent Boult. The left-arm swing bowler, who is ranked No 5 in the world in one-day internationals, will be arriving at his new franchise on the back of a productive home series against England.
Kings XI Punjab
Last season: Fifth
Pedigree: The team from Chandigarh have only made the play-offs twice, with a best effort of making the final in 2014. Brad Hodge has arrived as coach, from the defunct Gujarat Lions, while Ravichandran Ashwin will cut his captaincy teeth, taking over from Glenn Maxwell.
Key Indian player: Ravichandran Ashwin. How the deep-thinking spinner fares as captain of an underperforming franchise will be intriguing to see. Kings XI fans will hope it does not impact negatively on his bowling.
Key overseas player: Mujeeb Zadran. The 16-year-old mystery spinner is one of four Afghans who were bought at auction. He has enjoyed a great run of success since his international debut last year.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Last season: Fourth
Pedigree: Twice winners, making them the third most successful franchise, after Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. It is four years now since their most recent title, when they beat Kings XI Punjab in the 2014 final thanks mainly to 94 from Manish Pandey.
Key Indian player: Kuldeep Yadav. After his breakout year, the left-arm leg-spinner will now have to cope with the burden of greater expectation. He has shouldered it well so far for India.
Key overseas player: Sunil Narine. For years, the Trinidadian spinner was unrivalled as the premier bowling force in the competition. When that was diluted by doubts over his action, he reinvented himself as a pinch-hitting opener.
Last season: Champions
Pedigree: If they are not the league’s most popular franchise – and they might well be – then it is at least unquestionable that they are its most successful. Three wins in the past five seasons have established that. The holders have an enviable squad again.
Key Indian player: Jasprit Bumrah. The third-highest ranked seamer in the ICC’s T20i standings – behind Bangladesh’s Mustafizur Rahman and UAE’s Mohammed Naveed. Bumrah was majestic in the last IPL.
Key overseas player: Evin Lewis. The Trinidadian left-hander has two T20i hundreds to his name already, after just 14 matches for West Indies. Intriguing to see how he fares in his debut IPL season.
Last season: Suspended
Pedigree: The first ever winners of the IPL, under Shane Warne’s leadership in 2008, but the Jaipur-based franchise have endured a troubled time since. They have not been back to a final since then, and spent the past two seasons banned.
Key Indian player: Ajinkya Rahane. Even at their point of re-entry following the ban, the Royals have found themselves in the crossfire of controversy. Rahane has been handed the captaincy after Steve Smith’s ball-tampering enforced absence.
Key overseas player: Jos Buttler. Formerly with Mumbai Indians, the England wicketkeeper was bought for US$687,000 (Dh2.5 million) at auction by Rajasthan, where he will line up alongside international colleague Ben Stokes.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Last season: Last
Pedigree: Seldom has any franchise bettered the cast of stars that RCB regularly field. And yet they have nothing better than three runners-up finishes to show for it. Last year was woeful: three wins in 10 matches meant Virat Kohli’s team finished bottom.
Key Indian player: Yuzvendra Chahal. Up to the lofty heights of No 3 in the ICC rankings for T20 bowlers, behind only Rashid Khan of Afghanistan, a fellow leg-spinner.
Key overseas player: Brendon McCullum. McCullum has helped shape the IPL as much as any overseas player. RCB will be the fifth franchise the New Zealander has represented.
Last season: Third
Pedigree: Sunrisers have only missed out on the play-offs twice in their five seasons of existence to date, and were surprise winners under David Warner’s leadership in 2016. The Australian batsman’s one-year ban for his part in the ball-tampering scandal means Kane Williamson will captain.
Key Indian player: Shikhar Dhawan. Now without his regular IPL opening partner, the conspicuously absent Warner, the onus will fall on the Indian left-hander to get Sunrisers off to fast starts.
Key overseas player: Rashid Khan. Fresh from guiding Afghanistan to next year’s 50-overs World Cup, at the Qualifier in Zimbabwe, the No 1 T20I bowler will be keen to pick up where he left off in the 2017 IPL.