• Everyone loves a World Cup and Ashes year

    Every year, the Indian Premier League throws up a delightful string of action for cricket fans from around the world to enjoy. Now in its 12 year, the IPL has gathered the interest of millions of people around India and, indeed, the world. Its global appeal has Englishmen, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans and several other nations gathering around to support the Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rajasthan Royals, Mumbai Indians, Kings XI Punjab, Chennai Super Kings and more.

    Something for everyone

    From the attractive ‘helicopter’ shots sliced by Chennai’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the entertaining stroke play of Bangalore’s AB de Villiers and a whole lot more, there is seemingly always something for everyone in the IPL.

    This year, the competition is wide open again. All the former champions and the defending champs are back, leaving so many in the running for the glory that comes with the ultimate trophy after a probable nail-biting win in the final.

    In terms of an overall win, some of the best bookmakers online wouldn’t dare go beyond tipping the Kolkata Knight Riders as the favourites. Betway, by example, has the Knight Riders at 2/1 for the title – and these markets are followed by the Sunrisers Hyderabad and others.

    Hyderabad heights

    The Sunrisers were in last year’s final, but couldn’t get things right enough against the Super Kings. This year, the Sunrisers will be at it again, with New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson again their captain. Williamson retained the leadership despite the return of Australian David Warner, who has already shown them what they missed by blasting a brisk near century in the ongoing 2019 competition.

    Boyle Sports and a few others have even gone as far as to back the tournament’s leading run-scorer, some six weeks before the completion of the tournament. Anyone from Shane Watson to KL Rahul and Warner and Steven Smith can be supported here.

    King Kohli

    In terms of which franchise will end up with the highest run-scorer in the tournament, well, Rajasthan at 5/2 and Bangalore at 4/1 are looking good for that. The Royal Challengers’ hopes and markets are certainly supported by the presence of Virat Kohli. The talismanic right-hander is well on his way to surpassing the legendary Sachin Tendulkar’s record tally of ODI centuries – and a fruitful time in the Indian Premier League would almost definitely set him up for a prolific World Cup campaign with the national team in the United Kingdom later this year.

    Kohli is quick to make enemies on the field with somewhat of a brash attitude and a ‘never say die’ approach that some don’t enjoy, but there is no denying his amazing ability with the bat. He has come to show the world that he is particularly good at leading the chase of big targets – and as captain he isn’t afraid to bowl first, then chase later, if triumphant at the toss of the coin before the match starts.

    Burning desire for Ashes

    Coral and Karamba are among some of the others that can get you a solid punt or two. From the World Cup to the IPL and then onto the Ashes, England and Australian fans are given their own markets to have a go on. Backing Tim Paine’s men for triumph with the mini urn isn’t a bad way to go at 2/1, while Joe Root and company are also in the offing at similar levels. It’s going to be tight, but after five tough Test matches at The Oval, Lord’s and other scenic venues, there will be only one winner.

    The Ashes has, indeed, served up some intriguing battles in the past – both head to head and team on team. Few can forget the famous delivery coughed up by Shane Warne which dismissed Mike Gatting. The ball spun so much and really announced Warne’s name in Ashes history. Cook, Ricky Ponting and so many others have struck majestic centuries in the heat of the battle. But who will be the recipients of three-figure triumph this time around. Let’s get through the World Cup and the IPL and then see who will be the heroes and who will be the zeroes in the Ashes series, which will also be hosted in the United Kingdom. The Australians, by the way, are the reigning champions – and are odds-on favourites to take it again.

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    Jonhenry Wilson