51­day IPL kicks off on April 7; fi­nal at Wankhede

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Front Page - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com ▪

NEW DELHI: The 11th edi­tion of the In­dian Pre­mier League (IPL) will kick off on April 7 with de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Mum­bai In­di­ans tak­ing on the MS Dhoni-led Chen­nai Su­per Kings in the open­ing match at Mum­bai’s Wankhede Sta­dium. The fi­nal, on May 27, will also be played there.

Delhi Dare­dev­ils, to be led by Gau­tam Gamb­hir, will be­gin their cam­paign on April 8 with an af­ter­noon match at Feroz Shah Kotla against Kings XI Pun­jab. There will be an­other high-pro­file clash the same day — be­tween Kolkata Knight Rid­ers and Roy­als Chal­lengers Ban­ga­lore — at the Eden Gar­dens.

The match tim­ings, which were sup­posed to shift to 5.30pm and 7pm, re­main un­changed.

The ties will be­gin at 4pm and 8pm as they have over the last 10 editions of the world’s rich­est T20 league.

The eight-team league and knock­out tour­na­ment will have 60 matches, with 48 of them start­ing at 8pm.

IPL’s gov­ern­ing coun­cil had last month ac­cepted a re­quest by broad­caster Star Sports to change the tim­ings, but it was learnt that the fran­chises, who are 50% stake­hold­ers in the rev­enue model, op­posed the re­vised tim­ings as they had not been con­sulted.

Most of the fran­chises have re­jigged line-ups this year. Ben Stokes (Rs 12.5 crore) emerged as the costli­est player at the auc­tion and Jayadev Unad­kat (Rs 11.5 crore) was the costli­est In­dian player. Both play­ers were roped in by Ra­jasthan Roy­als who, along with Chen­nai Su­per Kings, are back in the league af­ter serving a twoyear ban for il­le­gal bet­ting.

How­ever, Stokes’s par­tic­i­pa­tion is still in doubt as he faces trial for a brawl out­side a pub in Bris­tol a few months ago.

Gamb­hir, the 36-year-old who had led Kolkata Knight Rid­ers to two ti­tles in his seven-year stay, was not re­tained. He will be the Delhi Dare­dev­ils skip­per.

Gamb­hir’s de­par­ture from KKR has left a void. An­dre Rus­sell, Robin Uthappa and Di­nesh Karthik are the likely choices for lead­ing the twotime cham­pi­ons.

DELHI DARE­DEV­ILS, TO BE LED BY GAU­TAM GAMB­HIR, WILL BE­GIN THEIR CAM­PAIGN ON APRIL 8 WITH AN AF­TER­NOON MATCH AT FEROZ SHAH KOTLA AGAINST KINGS XI PUN­JAB

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