IPL 2019: Virat Kohli, Jofra Archer, Steve Smith & David Warner among things to look out for

By Nikesh RughaniBBC Sport & BBC Asian Network
IPL fans
The IPL is in its 12th season

Extravagant clothing, loud music and lots of money.

It sounds like something straight out of the Bollywood film industry, right? Well... close enough.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) is the most glitzy Twenty20 league in the world, so much so that Bollywood takes a back seat throughout the tournament every year as 1.3 billion Indians go cricket crazy.

The 12th edition of the IPL gets under way on Saturday, with 60 matches being played up until 12 May.

There will be ball-by-ball commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and on the BBC Sport website (UK only), starting on Saturday when three-time champions Chennai Super Kings play Virat Kohli's Royal Challengers Bangalore.

In anticipation of the start, we've pulled together a few reasons to follow the competition...

Superstar players

Chris Gayle
West Indies' Chris Gayle is back on form in readiness for this year's IPL

The IPL attracts most of the best white-ball cricketers from around the world.

As well as Indian stars like Kohli, MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma, fans get a chance to see AB de Villiers, Kane Williamson, Chris Gayle and many more in action.

And with the 50-over ICC World Cup around the corner, they will all be looking to hit top form.

There's also a big English presence.

Sam Curran was the most expensive England player at this year's auction, having being bought by Kings XI Punjab for a cool £800,000.

Jonny Bairstow will line up for Sunrisers Hyderabad and Moeen Ali has been retained by the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).

Did we mention Ben Stokes? Well, he might do pretty well - he was the player of the tournament in 2017.

There are 11 English players in action across the eight teams.

Jofra Archer

Jofra Archer fielding
Archer could break into England's World Cup squad after becoming eligible this month

Yes, we've been talking about him for a while now - but we've got reason to.

The Sussex speedster had a fantastic Big Bash League campaign in Australia over the winter and will be eligible to play for England at this summer's World Cup.

Could he be a late bolter into the squad?

It means there will be even more eyeballs on his performances for the Rajasthan Royals this season.

He's quick, exciting and has the X factor Indian audiences love. Many expect him to be a huge success.

The glamour

Shah Rukh Khan
Shah Rukh Khan, 53, known as the King of Bollywood, owns the Kolkata Knight Riders, who won the IPL in 2012 and 2014

Bollywood and cricket come together for the IPL.

Many of India's top film stars also have connections with franchises, either as owners or brand ambassadors.

They might as well, because nobody watches movies when the IPL is on.

The whole country comes to a standstill for the IPL, so for the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Akshay Kumar - if you can't beat them, join them.

David Warner and Steve Smith

Both Australians are back playing in the IPL after serving their bans for ball-tampering.

They are both expected to make Australia's World Cup squad and play in the summer's Ashes, so it'll be interesting to see how time away from top-level cricket has affected their games, if at all.

It's fair to say they might get a slightly different reception in India to the one they'll receive in England this summer.

IPL teams for 2019 season
Chennai Super KingsDelhi Capitals
Kings XI PunjabKolkata Knight Riders
Mumbai IndiansRajasthan Royals
Royal Challengers BangaloreSunrisers Hyderabad

The surprise package

A lot of attention will be on mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy, who went for 42 times his base price at the auction.

He has played only nine professional limited-overs matches, but Kings XI Punjab paid £900,000 for his services.

Then there is the amazing story of 32-year-old Nottinghamshire bowler Harry Gurney.

Already this winter he has won the T10 league with Northern Warriors, the BBL with Melbourne Renegades and the PSL with Quetta Gladiators.

Can he apply his Midas touch to the Kolkata Knight Riders? Join us on 5 Live Sports Extra to find out.

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC

Cricket on the BBC