The third Indian Premier League edition is here and there is palpable excitement in the air. Teams have started playing limb-looseners and are looking to see which combo suits them the best. T20 is such a fast format that there is hardly any time to blink.
It is a format which has changed the game considerably and made even the longer format more attractive. The IPL, with its teams consisting of players from different nations, has also helped in breaking down a lot of barriers between players and bringing a greater understanding of different work ethics and cultures. Post the IPL there are fewer blowouts in the middle between players in Tests and ODIs and invariably whenever there is the odd explosion it involves players who are not playing the IPL.
The time-out gives a little space for the players to stop and look at possibilities in the remaining overs and since both teams are allowed to take the time out, it gives both teams the chance to reassess the situation.
In the fifty-overs format the game can turn in four or five overs. In the T20 it could be as little as four or five balls. Tactics have little place in this format and teams that field well and are fit are more likely prevail than others.
The Deccan Chargers and the Royal Challengers were the last two in the first IPL but were in the finals of the second, so that should give the Kolkata Knight Riders the hope that they too can roar back this year. The Mumbai Indians will be relying on the sublime touch that their skipper Sachin Tendulkar is in at the moment and knowing the man he will want to score his first T20 century. Kieron Pollard's inclusion gives them some extra firepower and it won't be a surprise if they end up having the most sixes in the tournament.
The South African edition of the tournament had seen a fairly equal balance between bat and ball because of the pitches there but here in India the batsmen will once again be able to plonk their front foot down to the fastest of bowlers and hit him back over his head. The par score will thus increase. This being near the end of the season the pitches will be drier and the new-ball bowlers may struggle a bit to get much out of the surfaces. But let's face it, the T20 format is made for batsmen.
Let the action begin.