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The key talking points as Kohli chases elusive IPL title
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Danny Ryan
Virat Kohli hit a record 973 runs in the 2016 edition of the IPL
Virat Kohli hit a record 973 runs in the 2016 edition of the IPL

The Indian Premier League returns on Friday as reigning champions Chennai Super Kings host Royal Challengers Bangalore.

It is the 17th edition of the world's biggest domestic T20 tournament, with 10 star-studded franchises eyeing glory.

Ahead of the opening night, we run through five key talking points.

Virat's latest chance

Virat Kohli has enjoyed huge individual success in the IPL but is yet to lift the coveted trophy.

The Delhi-born batsman, 35, has represented RCB in all 16 editions of the tournament and amassed a record 7,263 runs in 237 matches.

However, he has not been able to drag his side over the line in a final, with Kohli and Bangalore finishing as runners-up in 2009, 2011 and 2016.

IPL success eluding one of India's all-time greats seems unthinkable — and he will hope to finally break the curse in a strong-looking 2024 squad featuring Glenn Maxwell, Mohammed Siraj, Cameron Green and captain Faf du Plessis.

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Dhoni's swansong?

MS Dhoni has hit 5,082 runs in 250 IPL appearances
MS Dhoni has hit 5,082 runs in 250 IPL appearances

Unlike Kohli, MS Dhoni is a serial IPL winner having lifted the trophy five times with CSK.

The 42-year-old wicketkeeper captained his side to glory last year and with rumours circulating that this could be his last tournament, he will want to go out with a bang.

Dhoni has not played a competitive game of cricket since the 2023 final when CSK defeated Gujarat Titans by five wickets — but he is expected to feature in Friday's opener.

If this is to be the Indian icon's farewell tour, superstar team-mates in the form of Ravindra Jadeja, Moeen Ali and Daryl Mitchell will be desperate to make it a successful one.

Big-money buys

After their heroics at the ODI World Cup in India, Australia pacers Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins became the most expensive buys in IPL history.

Last December's auction saw Aussie skipper Cummins, 30, join Sunrisers Hyderabad for £1.9million — and that was shortly followed by Starc's record £2.3m switch to Kolkata Knight Riders.

The pressure will be on KKR's big-money recruit but the 34-year-old has previous IPL experience with RCB and has taken 74 wickets in 60 T20 internationals at an average of 23.33.

As for Cummins, he will be under the microscope even more after being named Sunrisers' new captain — but he has already proven himself to be a world-class leader for his country in both Tests and ODIs.

Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins are looking to take the IPL by storm in 2024
Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins are looking to take the IPL by storm in 2024

World Cup auditions

With the T20 World Cup kicking off on June 2, the IPL is the perfect stage for players to stake their claim for a spot in their respective national XIs.

It means an increased level of pressure, particularly for those representing India given the nation's ever-growing pool of talent.

And while younger stars will be itching to deliver a breakthrough campaign, established names also have to use this IPL as a platform to impress selectors.

Newly-appointed Mumbai Indians captain Hardik Pandya, Shreyas Iyer and even the great Kohli need to hit the ground running to be assured of a spot at this summer's World Cup.

Format change

The 2024 tournament will follow a new format.

Instead of the round-robin system used last year, the 10 teams will be split into two groups of five.

Each side engages in two matches against those in the opposing section — one home and one away — and will play once against the four sides within their own group.

All 10 franchises will play 14 group games, seven at home and seven away.

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