Your complete guide to the Indian Premier League

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The glitz and the glamour of the Indian Premier League (IPL) returns to our screens today when reigning champions Chennai Super Kings host the Kolkata Knight Riders.

The fourth edition of the Twenty20 competition could prove to be the most exciting yet with the addition of two new teams – Pune Warriors and Kochi Tuskers Kerala – and dramatic changes to the playing staff of existing franchises.

The January auction gave teams the chance to overhaul their squads after the contracts of all players expired at the end of the 2010 season. In total 127 players were brought at a combined value of $62,825,000m – of that just over $2m was spent on seven English players.

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New Format

The 10 teams will be spilt into two groups of five with everyone playing 14 league games. Each team will play the other teams in their group twice (home and away). They will also play four teams from the other pool once and the remaining fifth team twice. Therefore, each team will play five teams twice and four teams once.

Despite the teams being spilt into two groups there will only be once central table. The two teams that finish top will compete in a semi-final with the winner progressing to the IPL final. The losing team will play the winner of the other semi final – which will be contested by the teams finishing third and fourth in the league– for a place in the final.


The original eight IPL teams were allowed to retain four players from their previous squad list – of which only three could be Indian and two foreigners. Each franchise could then purchase new players at an auction held in January. A $9m salary cap was imposed on all teams.

Any team retaining previously owned players would see their $9m budged decrease by $1.8m for one player, $3.1m for two players, $4m for three players and $4.5m for four players. Therefore if a team retained four players they would enter the auction with a remaining budget of $4.5m.

Which English players are involved?

Only seven English players – Kevin Pietersen, Stuart Broad, Eoin Morgan, Paul Collingwood, Owais Shah, Dimitri Mascarenhas and Michael Lumb – were brought in the auction with the likes of Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Luke Wright, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott missing out.

However, since then Broad, Mascarenhas and Pietersen have withdrawn through injury and Collingwood also looks set to miss the entire tournament meaning there will be a conspicuous lack of English talent involved this year.

Why so few English?

With England being the current World Twenty20 champions, one would assume its players would be highly sought after but that is not the case. The frosty relationship between the English Cricket Board, who would rather centrally contracted players remain on home shores, and the IPL hasn’t helped matters. The start of the IPL also coincides with the beginning of the domestic season meaning many English players become less attractive as they are not available for the entire tournament.

Who are the players to watch?

Last year’s winners Chennai boast a strong squad that includes Mike Hussey, Dwayne Bravo, Albi Morkel and Doug Bollinger. Indian duo Suresh Raina and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be full of confidence after their recent World Cup success and will ensure Chennai have great home support.

The two new franchises have caught the eye with big money signings. Pune snapped up Yuvraj Singh – who was voted player of the tournament at the recent one-day World Cup – Graeme Smith and Jessie Ryder. While Kochi spent big on Sri Lankan duo Mahela Jayawardene and Muttiah Muralitharan.

The auctions two most expensive players Gautam Gambhir ($2.4m) and Yusuf Pathan ($2.1m) were both signed by the IPL’s perennial under-achievers: the Kolkata Knight Riders. With Brett Lee, Jacques Kallis and Shakib Al Hasan also among their ranks, the Kolkata may finally do what they have promised for so long and win the tournament.