The 2013 IPL season's lung opener could not have got any better as two of the strongest teams in the tournament will set the tone for the high-octane Twenty20 tournament over the next eight weeks.
One of the many highlights of the sixth edition of the tournament will be the debut of Sunrisers Hyderabad, who joined the IPL fraternity in October this year. They will begin their IPL innings with a home game against Pune Warriors India on April 5.
The tournament will be played in the same format as the 2012 edition.
Each of the nine participating teams will play the other eight twice, at home and away basis. The top four teams, at the end of the round-robin stage on May 19 will qualify for the Playoffs.
The Qualifier 1 and Eliminator games will be played at the M A Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai the home ground of the IPL 2012 runners-up - on May 21 and May 22 respectively.
The Qualifier 2 encounter and the Final, will be played at the Eden Gardens the home ground of the 2012 edition winners on May 24 and 26 respectively.
As many as eleven venues have been confirmed to host the matches. The nine home venues apart, matches will be played at two arenas that will be making their ODI debuts in January.
The last two 'home' games of the Kings XI Punjab will be played at the HPCA Stadium, Dharamsala, which has hosted seven IPL matches since 2010. The Jharkhand State Cricket Association International Stadium Complex at Ranchi, will host the last two 'home' games of the Kolkata Knight Riders.
"The countdown to PEPSI IPL 2013 has begun. We are poised to witness a competition that will be as, if not more, spectacular, than its predecessors," said IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla.
"The greatest cricketers on this planet will join forces with the stars of the future, to deliver some exhilarating cricket for their respective teams. The teams will play hard, but fair, and the most consistent of the lot will be crowned the champion on 26 May 2013," he added.