As the Indian Premier League returns for the seventeenth edition on Friday, a lot is at stake.

Out of the 10 franchises competing, a few will be hoping to further stack up their trophy cabinets, while others will be hoping to win their first title.

IPL 2024: Marquee cricket league ready for 17th season – here’s all you need to know

There will be an impact on the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, while a new crop of leaders emerges. There will be potential goodbyes, including that of MS Dhoni.

In a nutshell, IPL 2024 is bound to be dramatic.

Here’s a look at what to expect from the upcoming edition of the IPL:

Selection and form for T20 World Cup

With no international cricket scheduled prior to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in USA and West Indies, which starts in June, the Indian team management may essentially treat the IPL as practice in the lead-up to the big event. While it is almost certain that Rohit Sharma will lead the team in the shortest format, there seem to be some questions about Virat Kohli’s participation in the World Cup.

On reputation and skills, the duo make it to the team. But with plenty of youngsters making a case for themselves in this dynamic format, the pressure to earn that spot falls upon even the veterans of the game.

Additionally, there could be players who may have a breakthrough season compelling enough to include them in the scheme of things while those who have already been part of the set-up will cement their place based on current form.

One of the other important things to watch out for is which pacers will have a season good enough to partner up with Jasprit Bumrah and possibly, Mohammed Siraj. With Mohammed Shami likely to be out of action for a while, there is a need for other players to step up and become a potential replacement.

Final countdown for MS Dhoni?

IPL is in a state of transition. As the old guards step back, new talent emerges and so do new heroes. It marks the end of an era. It is also potentially the end of an era for MS Dhoni.

For the last couple of years, the question about whether it will indeed be Dhoni’s last time playing in Chennai’s yellow kit has popped up on various occasions. In 2022, Chennai Super Kings also attempted to hand over the leadership to Ravindra Jadeja, but it did not work out and Dhoni was back at the helm.

The signing of Ben Stokes in 2023 worth Rs 16.25 crore suggested that perhaps Chennai are looking at other options, but an underwhelming season and his release ended that possibility. Dhoni, now 42, had knee problems throughout the 2023 season and required surgery days after the final.

Ruturaj Gaikwad is now Dhoni’s successor, but is it the last time we see Chennai’s adopted son even as a batter, after all?

New leaders

It is a homecoming for Hardik Pandya, who after leading Gujarat Titans to a title win in 2022 and a runner-up finish last season, will serve as captain of the Mumbai Indians this term.

It is hard to imagine a successful captain like Sharma playing under someone else’s captaincy but, with age and the future of the franchise to consider, Mumbai have decided to make the transition sooner rather than later. How the five-time winning franchise fare under Pandya will be worth watching out for.

Meanwhile, as a result of Pandya’s departure, Shubman Gill has been handed the reins for the Titans. In their very brief two-year appearance, Titans have won in their first edition, reached the finals in the second and entertained throughout. Can Gill’s leadership ensure they continue that trend?

World Cup-winning, Indian crowd-silencing Pat Cummins will be expected to replicate his leadership for the Australian team at the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Additionally, how Gaikwad will be received by Chennai as their new captain will also be interesting to see.

Big money, big impact?

The return of Mitchell Starc in the IPL has been much awaited. When Kolkata Knight Riders broke the bank for him, acquiring him at a whopping Rs 24.75 crore, history was made. However, with the money comes the pressure of living up to the price tag.

It has been a decade since Starc last played in the IPL. How he fares in the season will be worth watching out for after all this time.

Meanwhile, Pat Cummins’ price tag of Rs 20.5 crore will mean Sunrisers Hyderabad expect the best out of him as an all-rounder and a captain. The last time the franchise was led to the title was in 2016 by David Warner. Hyderabad will be hoping for another Australian to do the same this time around.

Rishabh Pant returns

Following the life-threatening car crash in December 2022, Rishabh Pant will be in action for the first time when he takes the field for Delhi Capitals this year. Aside from the mental and physical trauma of the accident, his recovery and rehabilitation would have been a tough journey for the wicket-keeper batter to navigate.

While there is excitement and happiness around his return, it remains to be seen how much of an impact the last year and a half has had on his performance on the field.

Very few have been able to remain the same kind of athletes after major injuries, but one hopes he is able to bounce back stronger for his sake and that of Indian cricket.