How the teams stack up
As the dust settles on the frenzied IPL auction, it's time to look at what the 44-day extravaganza will be all about: building a balanced team capable of winning the title. It's early days yet, with most squads not even half complete, but several trends have emerged.
It would be premature to tip the favourites yet - the teams still have to settle on U-22 players, others outside the pool - but it's worth exploring the line-ups. While Hyderabad have gone for batting fireworks, Delhi have preferred athleticism on the field. If Bangalore have chosen bowlers who can turn it on, Kolkata seem to have preferred an experienced batting line-up. Here we run the rule over the eight teams.
USP: Packed with explosive power-hitters. Expect sixes to fly as Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds, Herschelle Gibbs and Shahid Afridi tee off. They also have some solidity in the middle with Rohit Sharma and Chamara Silva capable of making up for a collapse.
Chink: With three left-arm seamers in RP Singh, Chaminda Vaas and Nuwan Zoysa, they lack bowling variety.
The steal: At US$175,000, Scott Styris is a steal. Capable of big hits and intelligent nudges, Styris brings an additional dimension to the side. Take into account his useful medium-pace, and you have a potential MVP for the IPL.
Squad so far: Adam Gilchrist (US$700,000), Andrew Symonds (US$1.35 million), Herschelle Gibbs (US$575,000), Shahid Afridi (US$675,000), Scott Styris (US$175,000), VVS Laxman (US$375,000), Rohit Sharma (US$750,000), Chamara Silva (US$100,000), RP Singh (US$875,000), Chaminda Vaas (US$200,000), Nuwan Zoysa (US$110,000)
Chennai Super Kings
USP: With six left-hand batsmen in their line-up, Chennai pose a big threat. Matthew Hayden, Jacob Oram and Albie Morkel will be expected to strike the big ones while Stephen Fleming, Suresh Raina and Parthiv Patel can consolidate. Adding to the mix is Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the most prized player in the league.
Chink: In a format where spinners have thrived, Muttiah Muralitharan is the only spinner so far. Expect a few more slow bowlers when they finalise the rest of their squad.
Bizarre bargain: Albie Morkel is a useful allrounder but even he might be a bit shocked with the US$675,000 that was shelled out for him.
Squad so far: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (US$1.5 million), Muttiah Muralitharan (US$600,000), Matthew Hayden (US$375,000), Jacob Oram (US$675,000), Stephen Fleming (US$350,000), Parthiv Patel (US$325,000), Joginder Sharma (US$225,000), Albie Morkel (US$675,000), Suresh Raina (US$650,000), Makhaya Ntini (US$200,000), Michael Hussey (US$350,000)
USP: Fine balance in the bowling with two genuine quicks (Brett Lee and Sreesanth), a swing bowler (Irfan Pathan) and two spinners (Ramesh Powar and Piyush Chawla).
Chink: Not much firepower at the top. They need a batsman who can kickstart the innings.
Buzz:Their coach Tom Moody, who had a successful two-year stint as Sri Lanka's coach up to the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies, could have had a say in Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara being included.
Squad so far: Yuvraj Singh (icon), Mahela Jayawardene (US$475,000), Kumar Sangakkara (US$700,000), Brett Lee (US$900,000), Sreesanth (US$625,000), Irfan Pathan (US$925,000), Ramesh Powar (US$170,000), Piyush Chawla (US$400,000), Simon Katich (US$200,000), Ramnaresh Sarwan (US$225,000)
USP: Shah Rukh Khan's side has gone for the crowd pullers. Shoaib Akhtar, Ricky Ponting, Chris Gayle and Ishant Sharma give Sourav Ganguly a real star cast.
Chink: Two of their four fast bowlers - Shoaib Akhtar and Ajit Agarkar - are prone to be erratic. While one frequently breaks down, the other often blows hot and cold.
The steal: Umar Gul at US$150,000 must go down as one of the best bargains. A bowler capable of firing in yorkers under pressure, and who finished as the highest wicket-taker in the World Twenty20 in South Africa, must be worth more.
Bizarre bargain: In contrast to the canny deal for Gul, the US$950,000 they splashed on rookie fast bowler Ishant Sharma is perplexing. While he has been outstanding on the Australian tour, he is still untested at the Twenty20 level and doesn't yet have the star power to command such a high valuation.
Squad so far: Sourav Ganguly (icon), Shoaib Akhtar (US$425,000), Ricky Ponting (US$400,000), Brendon McCullum (US$700,000), Chris Gayle (US$800,000), Ajit Agarkar (US$330,000), David Hussey (US$675,000), Ishant Sharma (US$950,000), Murali Kartik (US$425,000), Umar Gul (US$150,000), Tatenda Taibu (US$125,000)
USP: A ballistic top order that includes Sachin Tendulkar, Sanath Jayasuriya and Robin Uthappa.
Chink: No wicketkeeper yet. It means they might have to settle on a domestic wicketkeeper, not an ideal situation in a high-pressure contest.
Bizarre bargain: Harbhajan Singh, at US$850,000, must be termed a pricey deal. There's a buzz doing the rounds that his friendship with Sachin Tendulkar, Mumbai's icon player, could have sealed his spot.
Squad so far: Sachin Tendulkar (icon), Sanath Jayasuriya (US$975,000), Harbhajan Singh (US$850,000), Shaun Pollock (US$550,000), Robin Uthappa (US$800,000), Lasith Malinga (US$350,000), Dilhara Fernando (US$150,000), Loots Bosman (US$175,000)
Bangalore Royal Challengers
USP: A bowling attack capable of surprising. Dale Steyn provides the speed while Zaheer Khan and Nathan Bracken are contrasting left-arm seamers who can bowl at the death.
Chink: In Wasim Jaffer, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Rahul Dravid and Jacques Kallis they probably have one stodgy player too many. Not the ideal set of batsmen you would want while chasing 200 in 20 overs.
Bizarre bargain: Cameron White, who has played just one Twenty20 international for Australia, seems a strange pick at US$500,000. However, his strike-rate of 160 in domestic Twenty20 games, as well as his ability to bowl legspin, might have tilted the scales.
Squad so far: Rahul Dravid (icon), Anil Kumble (US$500,000), Jacques Kallis (US$900,000), Zaheer Khan (US$450,000), Mark Boucher (US$450,000), Cameron White (US$500,000), Wasim Jaffer (US$150,000), Dale Steyn (US$325,000), Nathan Bracken (US$325,000), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (US$200,000)
USP: As of now, they look the best fielding side in the fray. Tillakaratne Dilshan and AB de Villiers lead the way while Dinesh Karthik, Shoaib Malik, Gautam Gambhir and Manoj Tiwary make up a seriously good back-up.
Chink: All their specialist bowlers are foreign players. Each team will be allowed only four overseas players in their starting XI and it could turn into a handicap at some stage.
The steal: AB de Villiers is one of the best fielders going around. He can also turn games with the bat. At US$300,000 Delhi got him for a song.
The buzz: TA Sekhar, the bowling coach with the MRF pace foundation, is involved with sports administration in Delhi. That might be one of the reasons they picked up the accurate duo of Mohammad Asif and Glenn McGrath.
Squad so far: Virender Sehwag (icon), Daniel Vettori (US$625,000), Shoaib Malik (US$500,000), Mohammad Asif (US$650,000), AB de Villiers (US$300,000), Dinesh Karthik (US$525,000), Farveez Maharoof (US$225,000), Tillakaratne Dilshan (US$250,000), Manoj Tiwary (US$675,000), Gautam Gambhir (US$725,000), Glenn McGrath (US$350,000)
JaipurUSP: Fine brains-trust in Shane Warne, Graeme Smith and Younis Khan. One captains an international side and the other two might have turned into fine leaders too.
Chink: No real athleticism in the side. Warne and Justin Langer aren't spring chickens and no one is likely to confuse Munaf Patel with Jonty Rhodes.
Bizarre bargains: Yusuf Pathan, with just one Twenty20 international, and Mohammad Kaif, who isn't even in the reckoning for a spot in the Indian national side, don't seem to deserve US$1.15 million between them.
Squad so far: Shane Warne (US$450,000), Graeme Smith (US$475,000), Younis Khan (US$225,000), Kamran Akmal (US$150,000), Yusuf Pathan (US$475,000), Mohammad Kaif (US$675,000), Munaf Patel (US$275,000), Justin Langer (US$200,000)
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo