Cricket - Ponting set for IPL debut in series' sixth season

Cricket's richest competition returns this week as the Indian Premier League begins its sixth season.

PA Sport
Cricket - Ponting set for IPL debut in series' sixth season

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Australia's Ricky Ponting plays a shot

Champions Kolkata Knight Riders will launch the latest edition of the tournament which transformed the game's landscape when they host the Delhi Daredevils at Eden Gardens.

Again there have been changes to rosters with 37 players sold for handsome sums at last month's auction, including Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, who joined Mumbai Indians in the most expensive deal for $1 million.

A major new sponsor in Pepsi has come on board while a new team, Sunrisers Hyderabad, has been formed following the closure of 2009 champions Deccan Chargers last year.

Organisers are once again hoping for huge crowds and television audiences and they will hope for fireworks from the off from the star-studded Knight Riders and Daredevils.

The Daredevils are yet to win the title but are regularly among the favourites and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League Twenty20 competition last year. But their planning has been thrown into some disarray by the loss of star players Kevin Pietersen, Jesse Ryder and Varun Aaron to injury.

Australian batsman Ben Rohrer has been brought in to compensate, while the likes of Mahela Jayawardene, David Warner, Irfan Pathan, Morne Morkel and Virender Sehwag still give the side a healthy look.

The Knight Riders must also begin the competition without inspirational New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, who has a hamstring problem, and Australia seamer James Pattinson, who is rested by his country.

England's Eoin Morgan could find himself cast in the McCullum role as wicketkeeper-batsman in a side led by Gautam Gambhir and also featuring Brett Lee and Jacques Kallis.

Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting is one of the headline arrivals, having been brought in as new captain at Mumbai.

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