IPL 2018: Liam Plunkett to replace injured Kagiso Rabada at Delhi Daredevils

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Indian Premier League side Delhi Daredevils on Saturday signed England fast bowler Liam Plunkett to take the place of injured South African paceman Kagiso Rabada.

This will be the “first stint” in the IPL for the 33-year-old Plunkett, the Daredevils said in announcing the signing.

Rabada had signed a $650,000 deal with the Daredevils, who open their IPL campaign on Sunday against Kings XI Punjab. But he has been ruled out of cricket for up to three months with a back stress fracture.

Yorkshire bowler Plunkett was picked from a pool of available replacements. He has played in 13 Tests, 65 one-day internationals and 15 T20 internationals for England.

The eight-team, seven-week IPL starts on Saturday when defending champions the Mumbai Indians take on Chennai Super Kings.

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IPL 2018 prediction: Winners, flops and surprise packages of this year's edition

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Eight teams will fight it out in IPL 2018. Image courtesy: IPL/Twitter.

The Indian Premier League is set for its 11th edition and as is the case every year, a few teams and players stand out  from the crowd for varying reasons.

Some teams look especially well-balanced this year while some look like they will need a miracle to go all the way.

So we took out the crystal ball at Sport360 and asked out writers to make their predictions for IPL 2018. And here they are:

ASHISH PETER

Winners: When looking at the squads at the disposal of the eight franchises, it is hard to look beyond the defending champions Mumbai Indians. The Rohit Sharma-led franchise has retained their core from last year and added some inspiring names in the form of Evin Lewis and Pat Cummins.

Flops: Kings XI Punjab look suspect with some rather shoddy recruitment in the IPL auction. Having only retained Axar Patel ahead of the season, they are banking on stars well past their prime in Yuvraj Singh and Chris Gayle.

Surprise package: Afghanistan’s Mujeeb Zadran and Nepal’s Sandeep Lamichhane are both set to make their bow in the IPL. The two teenage spinners will test their mettle against the biggest stars in international cricket and these two could very well surprise a few batsmen with the variations.

ADITYA DEVAVRAT

Winners: Royal Challengers Bangalore have been the IPL’s perennial underachievers, but they took steps to rectify that at this season’s auction. Gone is Chris Gayle, among other star names, and a previously top-heavy batting lineup looks more balanced, as does the bowling attack. And they still have Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.

Flops: Chennai Super Kings. Make their IPL return amid much fanfare and hype. The squad has familiar faces in MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, and hometown hero Murali Vijay. But did they err too much on the side of familiarity? The team has an aging, if experienced, core.

Surprise package: Rajasthan Royals’ IPL return couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start with Steve Smith’s suspension. But they have a level-headed leader in Ajinkya Rahane, a strong international presence with Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, D’Arcy Short, and Jofra Archer, and a collection of Indian players looking to make their mark.

BRENDON NETTO

Winners: Royal Challengers Bangalore. Chris Gayle’s explosive presence will be missing from RCB’s batting line-up but in Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers have more than enough cover. The acquisitions of all-rounders Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali in particular make for a far more balanced squad. Mumbai have the firepower to run them close but Bangalore to edge it.

Flops: Kolkata Knight Riders. On the surface, KKR look like they have a decent enough side. But on closer inspection it becomes apparent that they’re a couple of injuries away from struggling. Gautam Gambhir was a stalwart for them and will be missed sorely. A strange strategy at the auction could prove costly.

Surprise package: Pat Cummins. After bursting onto the scene as an 18-year-old, injuries blighted Pat Cummins’ career over the next six years. The Ashes series last year was a turning point for him and he most recently impressed in the series defeat to South Africa, putting him on course to finally light up the IPL stage with Mumbai.

ALEX BROUN

Winners: Chennai Super Kings. There is tremendous excitement building around Chennai’s return to the tournament with 10,000 fans turning up for a training session and with a squad including MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson, Mark Wood and Lungi Ngidi they have the talent, depth and experience to make a real dent. Getting off to a good start in the opener against Mumbai will be crucial.

Flops: Mumbai Indians. The reigning champions have been talked up before the start of the tournament but they look overly dependent on two stars – Rohit Sharma to get the runs and Jasprit Bumrah to stop opponents scoring them. There is a lot of responsibility on young West Indian bat Evin Lewis but in his first IPL he may take a while to find his feet. Mumbai themselves are notoriously slow starters and this year they may not be able to recover.

Surprise package: Lungi Ngidi. The young South African speedster was a revelation in the series against both India and Australia. Yes Indian wickets are much different to South Africa and its T20 not Tests but the 22-year-old is lively and deceptive.

AJIT VIJAYKUMAR

Winners: Mumbai Indians. Mumbai and Chennai seem to have the most settled units in the league. But it is very difficult to overlook to hitting power of Rohit, Lewis and Hardik Pandya along with the death bowling powers of Bumrah and Mustafizur Rahman. Plus they know how to win titles.

Flops: Punjab. Have an average squad. Yuvraj Singh and Chris Gayle not what they used to be while Aaron Finch and David Miller only in-form power hitters. Very few standout names among youngsters, apart from Afghanistan’s Mujeeb Zadran.

Surprise package: Delhi. Have looked clueless over the years. But this year, under Gautam Gambhir and Ricky Ponting, have balance in all departments. Colin Munro and Jason Roy are superb T20 options and even without Kagiso Rabada, have a fine bowling attack.

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IPL 2018: Chennai Super Kings' consistency and other unbelievable records in the competition's history

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The Indian Premier League (IPL) has captured the imagination of cricket fans for a decade now with its high-energy concoction of the best of Indian and international talents.

Along the way, the tournament has thrown up a host of records, both personal and team-wise as the world’s best batsmen and bowlers went head-to-head against each other.

Here, we look at the five of the most unique IPL records set in its 10 years of existence.

MOST HAT-TRICKS

With three hat-tricks to his name in the competition, Amit Mishra finds himself in a highly exclusive club of just one. The leg-spinner is the only player to do so in the tournament’s history, achieving his first hat-trick in the maiden edition of the IPL itself while playing for the Delhi Daredevils against the now disbanded Deccan Chargers.

His second came in 2011, this time playing for the Deccan Chargers, in a game against Kings XI Punjab. Mishra’s final hat-trick was achieved against the Pune Warrior in 2013 when he was representing Sunrisers Hyderabad. The leg-spinner is also the second most successful bowler in IPL history with 134 scalps.

Mishra is the king of hat-tricks in the IPL.

Mishra is the king of hat-tricks in the IPL.

THE TWO SIDES TO ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE

The Bengaluru-based franchise has been the perennial underachievers of the IPL, having made it to three finals without a single title to show for.

They are also prone to great highs and terrible lows. The outfit has registered the highest team score in the IPL, amassing 263-5 against the Pune Warriors in 2013. The highest T20 score ever recorded in international cricket is 263 by Australia.

RCB have also reached the lowest of lows in the IPL. The side was bundled out for just 49 runs in a match against Kolkata Knight Riders in 2017 while chasing a paltry total of 132. That is the lowest team score recorded in IPL’s history.

RCB have shown both the good and the bad over the past 10 years.

RCB have shown both the good and the bad over the past 10 years.

MOST SIXES

Chris Gayle needs no introduction in T20 cricket. It’s a format he has made his own. He has unsurprisingly been a huge draw in the IPL with his destructive batting over the years.

A man who loves to deal in boundaries and sixes, the Jamaican has destroyed numerous bowling attacks in the 10 years of the IPL. In 101 matches in the competition, Gayle has slammed a whopping 265 sixes, the highest in the league by a country mile.

Suresh Raina, who lies in the second spot in the list, has only 173 maximums to his name which tells you how far ahead Gayle has been of the rest of the competition.

Gayle's six-hitting abilities are unparalleled.

Gayle’s six-hitting abilities are unparalleled.

MOST TONS IN A SINGLE EDITION

The 2016 IPL avatar of Virat Kohli was undoubtedly his best so far in the tournament. The Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper was in unstoppable form as he amassed 973 runs in single season.

That is by far the highest scored by any batsman in a single edition of the IPL with the previous highest being 773.

Kohli’s 2016 showing was special for a lot more reasons. He registered four T20 centuries that season, a feat almost unheard of in any T20 league across the globe. The right-hander averaged a staggering 81.1 in that season as his side ultimately fell short at the final hurdle.

Kohli was unstoppable in 2016.

Kohli was unstoppable in 2016.

CHENNAI SUPER KINGS’ AMAZING CONSISTENCY

As the MS Dhoni-led franchise prepares to make an emotional return following a two-year suspension from the league, they will look back on their unwavering consistency in the tournament with great pride.

In its eight years in the IPL prior to the suspension, CSK managed to reach the knock-out stages of the competition in each of those years, a feat unmatched by any other franchise.

Not only that, they have also reached the final on six of those eight occasions, winning the title twice. They are the only side to have successfully defended their IPL crown till date, lifting the trophy in  2010 and 2011.

Consistency has been Chennai's forte over the years.

Consistency has been Chennai’s forte over the years.

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