All eyes were on England stars ahead of the Indian Premier League 2017 season.
And although they have made an impact in their first real foray into the tournament, it’s their Australian counterparts who have stolen the show in the opening round of matches.
Steve Smith, David Warner and Moises Henriques have been among the players to make impressive starts to the competition, guiding their respective sides to victory.
However, there are plenty of challenges ahead for the Aussie trio and their team-mates to maintain the level of their excellence.
With Warner at full tilt Sunrisers Hyderabad already seem a strong contender to defend their crown, but there’s a long road ahead for them and their seven sides in the battle to reach the playoffs.
We’ll now take a look at some of the intriguing odds, surrounding the key men and teams thus far into the campaign.
Last season, superstar Virat Kohli dominated the competition with Royal Challengers Bangalore scoring 923 runs, including four centuries. The India skipper will be aiming to achieve the feat once he returns to fitness from a shoulder injury, which should be in the near future.
As testament to his quality, Kohli remains one of the leading contenders to retain his spot as the best batsman in the IPL. The 28-year-old is backed at +1200 by bet365 to score the most runs, although he will need to hit the ground running.
Kohli will not be thrilled to see one of his rivals Smith thriving in the IPL thus far, with the 27-year-old scoring a match-winning 84 to guide Rising Pune Supergiant to victory over Mumbai Indians in their opener.
Smith was outstanding during the series and has positioned himself the number one batsman in the world in Test cricket, but still has work to do to improve his T20 form.
He will need more innings like his performance against the Indians to get over the line, although batting at three will help his cause. At odds of +800 , he’s an intriguing option – given his familiarity with conditions.
Another player that will have no time adapting to the turning tracks and has proven that already is Warner. The destructive left-hander has already blasted an unbeaten knock of 73 to guide Hyderabad past Gujarat Lions.
He finished second to Kohli last term and odds of +550 are a solid bet to go one better in 2017.
Fellow Aussie Chris Lynn has notched the highest score thus far with an unbeaten 93 and the Kolkata Knight Riders opener has odds of 8/1 to maintain his lead at the top till the bitter end of the competition.
One of the main reasons that Hyderabad were able to triumph last season was the form of seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The 27-year-old notched 23 wickets over the course of the competition to lead the way in the bowling column, earning the Purple Cap award.
He has already had a brisk start to life in the tournament this time around, with four strikes in his opening two matches. If Kumar continues at his current rate he will notch campaign with over 20 wickets, making him a good bet at +900 with PaddyPower to lead the wicket column once again.
Kumar’s Sunrisers team-mate Rashid Khan has made a bright start to his debut campaign in the IPL. The 18-year-old has played 26 ODI matches for Afghanistan in his fledgling career and has not been daunted by the big stage provided by the illustrious tournament.
He has taken five scalps in his opening two matches, including a three-wicket display to stifle the Gujarat Lions, conceding just 19 runs in the process. The leg-spinner is an exciting prospect and he could enhance his reputation by claiming the Purple Cap with intriguing odds of +1800 .
Imran Tahir is ranked at the top of the world rankings in both ODI and T20 cricket, but the South Africa international still went unsigned at the IPL auction. An injury to Mitchell Marsh opened up a spot for him to sign with Rising Pune Supergiant.
The 36-year-old has already proved that he should not have been left on the shelf with a three-wicket display against Mumbai Indians, and adding another two scalps against Kings XI. At +333 he will be in it for the long haul due his talent and experience.
At this early stage of the competition – it’s extremely hard to predict a winner, although the value for punters is at its best.
The defending champions are already looking like they mean business in the new campaign, with back-to-back wins in their opening two matches.
With Warner at the top of the innings – Sunrisers have a man capable of winning the match on his own due to the explosive nature of his play, while alongside him is one of the other leading openers in cricket in Shikhar Dhawan.
Henriques has notched back-to-back fifties already, while Yuvraj Singh provides power in the lower middle-order. When those batsman fire – there are guaranteed fireworks.
The bowling unit is led by Kumar and has support from the youngster Khan along with the experience of Ashish Nehra – there is more than enough there to secure the crown. At odds of +450 with SportingBet – Hyderabad are good value.
Royal Challengers Bangalore will provide the sternest test based on the talent available – with Kohli and AB de Villiers to return to the lineup. The team is already stacked with Chris Gayle opening the innings and Shane Watson down the order, giving them immense ability throughout the side.
England’s Tymal Mills leads the attack, while there is enough experience and guile to support the left-arm quick, making Bangalore a good option at odds of +550 .
Virat Kohli To Be Top IPL Batsman
Steve Smith To Be Top IPL Batsman
David Warner To Be Top IPL Batsman
Chris Lynn To Be Top IPL Batsman
Bhuvneshwar Kumar To Be Top IPL Bowler
Rashid Khan To Be Top IPL Bowler
Imran Tahir To Be Top IPL Bowler
Sunrisers Hyderabad To Win IPL 2017
Royal Challengers Bangalore To Win IPL 2017