The pressure is on AB de Villiers and Lungi Ngidi in the IPL which kicks off Saturday – at both ends of the scale.
On the one hand, there is De Villiers, commonly regarded as one of the greatest, if not the greatest batsman in the world, a veteran of 10 IPL campaigns and 78 T20 internationals. On the other is 22-year-old Ngidi, who has four T20Is under his belt, making his debut in what is regarded as the most hectic and pressured cricket show on earth.
A total of 56 matches will be played in 51 days across the continent before the knockout phase starts.
At least Ngidi will have his Proteas captain Faf du Plessis and Imran Tahir for company in the Chennai Super Kings, the two-time champions who will kick off the tournament against current champions Mumbai Indians, who feature JP Duminy in their ranks, at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
On Sunday, the Delhi Daredevils (featuring Chris Morris) play Kings XI Punjab (David Miller) and Kolkata Knight Riders (Cameron Delport) face Royal Challengers Bangalore (AB de Villiers, Quinton de Kock).
Spare a thought for Rajasthan Royals’ rookie Heinrich Klaasen, who just a week ago, was mulling over what to do with his free time in the coming weeks. Then Steve Smith was banned from the IPL for his part in the ball-tampering scandal, and Klaasen, who obviously impressed Indian observers in four ODIs and three T20s against India earlier this year, was called up to replace the experienced former Australian captain. Pressure comes in various guises.
Klaasen will be under new captain Ajinkya Rahane, and will be playing alongside the likes of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler.
De Villiers has a different pressure as he teams up with his old mate Virat Kholi and Proteas teammate Quinton de Kock in the Bangalore Royal Challengers. Despite their star-studded lineup, which – until he was dropped last year – included Chris Gayle, they have never won the tournament.
The team lineups are:
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli, Sarfaraz Khan, AB de Villiers, Brendon McCullum, Chris Woakes, Colin de Grandhomme, Moeen Ali, Quinton de Kock, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Manan Vohra, Kulwant Khejroliya, Nandeep Saini, Murugan Ashwin, Mandeep Singh, Pawan Negi, Mohammad Siraj, Anirudha Joshi, Parthiv Patel, Tim Southee, Pavan Deshapnde.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Tom Curren, Chris Lynn, Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill, Ishank Jaggi, Ntish Rana, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Aniket Choudhary, Gurkeerat Mann Singh, Avesh Khan, Harshal Patel, Rahul Tewatia, Vinay Kumar, Apoorv Wankhade, Rinku Singh, Shivan Mavi, Cameron Delport, Mitchell Johnson, Javon Searless.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Faf du Plessis, Harbhajan Singh, Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson, Kedar Jadhav, Ambati Ryudu, Imran Tahir, Karn Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Jagadeesan Narayan, Mitchell Santner (OS), Deepak Chahar, Asif KM, Lungi Ngidi, Kanish Seth, Dhruv Shorey, Murali Vijay, Sam Billings, Mark Wood, Kshitiz Sharma, Monu Singh, Chaitanya Bishnoi.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Kieron Pollard, Mustafizur Rahman, Pat Cummins, Surya Kumar, Ishan Kishan, Rhul Chahar, Evin Lewis, Saurabh Tiwary, Ben Cutting (OS), Pradeep Sangwan, JP Duminy, Jason Behrendorff, Tajinder Dhillon, Sharad Lumba, Siddhesh Lad, Aditya Tare, Mayank Markande, Akila Dhananjaya, Pradeep Sahu, Anukul Roy, Mohsin Khan, Nidheesh MD Dinesan.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Alex Hales, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shikhar Dhawan, Shakib Al Hasan, Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Carlos Brathwaite, Yusuf Pathan, Wriddhiman Saha, Rashid Khan, Ricky Bhui, Deepak Hooda, Siddarth Kaul, Syed Khaleel Ahmed, Basil Thampi, T Natarajan, Mohammad Nabi, Sandeep Sharma, Sachin Baby, Chris Jordan, Billy Stanlake, Tanmay Agarwal, Shreevats Goswami, Bipul Sharma, Mehedi Hasan.
Delhi Daredevils: Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Chris Morris, Glenn Maxwell, Gautam Gambhir, Jason Roy, Colin Munro, Mohammad Shami, Amit Mishra, Prithvi Shaw, Harshal Patel, Rahul Tewatia, Vijay Shankar, Avesh Khan, Shahbaz Nadeem, Dan Christian, Jayant Yadav, Trent Boult, Manjot Kalra, Abhishek Sharma, Sandeep Lamichhane, Naman Ojha, Sayan Ghosh.
Rajasthan Royals: Heinrich Klaasen, Ben Stokes, Ajinkya Rahane, Stuart Binny, Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler, Rahul Tripathi, Jofra Archer), D’Arcy Short, Gowtham Krishnappa, Dhawan Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat, Ankit Sharma, Anureet Singh Kathuria, Zahir Khan Pakteen, MS Midhun, Prashant Chopra, Ben Laughlin (OS), Mahipal Lomror, Jatin Saxena, Aryaman Vikram Birla, Dushmanta Chameera.
Kings XI Punjab: Axar Patel, Ravi Ashwin, Yuvraj Singh, Karun Nair, KL Rahul, David Miller, Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis, Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Singh Rajpoot, Manoj Tiwary, Mohit Sharma, Mujeeb Zadran, Barinder Sran, Andrew Tye, Shreyas Gopal, Ben Dwarshuis, Mayank Dagar, Chris Gayle, Manzoor Dar.