The ninth season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is set to get underway in Mumbai on Saturday, 9 April, when Mumbai Indians take on Rising Pune Supergiants at the Wankhede Stadium.
After India\'s heart-breaking semi-final loss in the World T20 semi-final last month, the new season of the tournament is being eagerly awaited by the country\'s cricket fans.
With a host of international stars set to feature, one can look forward to some exciting cricket in the upcoming six weeks. Here is a look at the 11 players to watch out for this season.
The big-hitter from West Indies comes into the tournament on the back of a successful World T20 campaign. While Gayle failed to make his mark in the last two matches of the tournament, he will be confident of doing well this season, given his past record in the tournament.
Aaron Finch has a batting average of 39.78 in T20 Internationals and is considered as one of the best players in the shortest format of the game. The former Australian T20 captain will be hoping to play a crucial role in Gujarat Lions' debut IPL campaign this season.
Despite his exile from the English national team, Kevin Pietersen remains one of finest batsmen in world cricket. Having signed for Rising Pune Supergiants, the IPL debutants will bank on the South Africa-born batsman to fire all cylinders in the upcoming season.
Arguably the best batsman in the world right now, Virat Kohli is in the form of his life at the moment, and will hope to resume from where he left off at the World T20 last month. The right-handed batsman will lead Royal Challengers Bangalore's charge this season, and will hope to help end the team's title drought.
Having retired from international duty last month, Shane Watson will turn out for Royal Challengers Bangalore this season, having played for Rajasthan Royals in the past eight editions. The Australian all-rounder will be a crucial part of Virat Kohli's team, and will hope to add another winner's medal this season, having won the title in 2008.
Having led Chennai Super Kings to two IPL and two Champions League titles, Mahendra Singh Dhoni will hope to keep waving his magic with Rising Pune Supergiants this season. Dhoni's batting in the death overs, as well as his shrewd captaincy, may just give the debutants an edge over the other teams this term.
The Barbados all-rounder's explosive batting helped West Indies trump England in the final of the World T20 earlier this month. Now making his debut in the IPL, Braithwaite will look to continue his good run of form with his team Delhi Daredevils.
Samuel Badree played a crucial role in West Indies' recent World T20 triumph and bowled a magnificent spell in the final against England. The leg-spinner will be one of the key figures in a strong RCB side, which will start has one of the favourites for the title.
The Australian leg spin bowler was picked up by Gujarat Lions at a base price of Rs 30 lakh earlier this year. Having performed commendably since making his T20I debut last month, his bowling could prove vital on Indian tracks. His ability to chip in with the bat could also come in handy for his side.
Mustafizur Rahman was in demand during the IPL auctions a couple of months back. So much so that his base price of Rs 50 lakh surged to Rs 1.4 crore. Making his debut in the competition, the left-arm bowler will be a vital cog in the Sunrisers Hyderabad side.
The veteran Sri Lankan bowler hurt his knees ahead of World T20 this year and remains doubtful for the first half of IPL this season. However, if he does manage to regain full fitness, Malinga could prove crucial for Mumbai Indians in the later stages of the tournament.