The Indian Premier League (IPL) 3.0 opens at Mumbai on March 12, 2010.
This offseason has already seen some major changes within the IPL. No players from Pakistan will compete in the upcoming season, and no matches will be held at Hyderabad due to regional unrest.
Incidentally, this means the Deccan Chargers—the defending IPL champions—will have to wait yet another year to record their first victory at home.
Remember, they were crowned IPL champions at South Africa and didn't win a single Champions league match at Hyderabad either.
Further changes within the IPL include new rules regarding timeouts—each team will have two strategic timeouts instead of one.
The IPL has also made it easier for fans to follow their favorite team in 2010 by signing deals to stream matches live on YouTube, and to show matches on more than 550 theater screens across India.
Now, let's examine each team's outlook for 2010...
IPL Champions have suffered a big blow already.
Their home matches will now be played at Vizag because of the unrest near Hyderabad. However, this could be a blessing in disguise for them.
They have not won a single home match at Hyderabad in two seasons. They won the IPL crown last year at South Africa, but their chance to repeat in 2010 does not look good.
New signee Roach has almost nil experience in T20. Most of their main players like Rohit Sharma, RP Singh, Styris, Gibbs, and Symonds are now out of national reckoning.
Their saving grace is Gilchristh—his age will be the only question mark. Considering their form and injuries, it's next to impossible for Deccan to repeat last year's performance.
The Chargers need to look to last year's results for the confidence needed for a successful 2010 season.
This is the franchise that showed consistent improvement after Season One in terms of both their signings and performance.
After their Season One debacle, the franchise regrouped and picked some very good players in Season Two.
Combined with sparkling innings from foreign players, the strong contributions of the Indian players resulted in much of the team's success last year.
Taylor dealt most of the killer blows in Season Two, with new-kid-on-the-block Pandey dealing the death blow to the Chennai Superkings in the semi-finals.
Petersen became the dud of the season, but he can easily make a turn around with the company of his English mate, Eoin Morgan.
During the offseason, Bangalore's Indian players have been in tremendous form.
Pandey is sizzling with bat, and Vinay Kumar and Mithun have led the team to the Ranji Finals.
Don't forget about the old fox, Kumble.
Team Bangalore is a big threat this season to cause some noise in the IPL. Everyone watch out for them.
Last season the Kolkata Knight Riders fought within their camp and gave up without much fight in the field.
It's a good sign that team management started preparing well before other teams for Season Three, as opposed to dwelling on their past failures.
Kolkata hired a new coach and went back to their old captain. They bought out Ponting's contract, brought in Tiwary from Delhi, and brought in Shane Bond to strengthen their bowling.
However, their batting needs to improve.
In Season Two, their batters struggled, especially the Indian players. This time, they got some quality signings.
Pujara, who was injured last season, would like to prove a point or two in Season Three. With Gayle, Mccullum, D. Hussey, and Hodge, they surely have some muscle power.
Unfortunately, Gayle and Mccullum have been hit-or-miss lately, with more misses than hits.
Kolkata has a good squad, but they must play as a team to be successful.
Can Ganguly provide some magic?
We'll have to wait and see.
Rajasthan won Season One out of nowhere, yet faded in Season Two. They missed Tanvir in South Africa, and their batting consistently failed.
Unfortunately for Rajasthan fans, the team hasn't changed much since then.
Henderson's contract was bought out and in come two more Aussies. Martyn and English batsman Lumb have joined the team as well.
Yusuf Pathan has regained his form. Warne hopes his batsman come to party this time around.
Will getting Martyn backfire on Warne?
Watch out for Rajasthan, as they can again spring a surprise this season.
A look at the Punjab squad shows they have fewer aggressive overseas T20 players than any team.
Their strategy has always been to go for solid players. By getting Kaif, they have further demonstrated that belief.
They got some nice players like Jayawaradene, Sanga, and Shaun Marsh.
They also have some good Indian players like Yuvraj, Irfan, and Chawla that are looking to bounce back from a disappointing Season Two.
With Lee injured, their bowling unit has lost its X-factor. If Punjab really wants to make a turnaround this season, there is only one answer:
He has to perform well for them and finish close matches. With the burden of being captian gone and fresh out of injury, he should be ready to go.
I'm not expecting much from them, but they should be a competitive squad.
The Mumbai Indians have been serial under-performers the last two seasons.
With Zaheer, Harbhajan, Malinga, and Bravo, they have a good bowling lineup.
With Sachin, Duminy, and Rahane, they have solidity.
With Jayasuriya, Napier, and Nayar, they have muscle power.
What Mumbai has lacked is a good keeper, but even without one it's really a mystery why Mumbai has not been able to advance to the semi-finals.
Mumbai has been the highest-spending team in IPL.
In comes Pollard.
Mumbai's owners are hoping for at least a top-four finish this season, if not better. Mumbai has been plagued by injuries in the past. However, all their players are fit and fresh for Season Three.
It's time to make it count for the Mumbai Indians.
Dehli is the best team on paper, but they have choked in important matches.
With Sehwag, Gambhir, Dilshan, Devillers, and Karthik, they have the best batting lineup in the IPL.
This season Parnells is in, and Mcgrath is out.
If Delhi plays up to their enormous potential, the cup is theirs. At worst, they should reach the semi-finals.
The only question is whether they can shake the chokers tag.
Chennai is a very consistent team that has reached the finals and semi-finals in previous seasons.
They are the most highly-valued team in IPL, and are fully packed with heavyweights.
However, Chennai is a batting-heavy side and their bowling needs a big overhaul.
There is no Flintoff this season, but they have added two more all-rounders in Kemp and Perera.
They failed to get any bowlers in the auction, thus bowling is their weak link, but this was the case in the previous two seasons as well.
However, their batting is so superior that they don't need a strong bowling attack to win matches.
Murali, Morkel, and Dhoni hope to make up for their past IPL blemishes.
If Dhoni comes in at three or four, he needs to attack. Dhoni must get his hitting form back on track.
My verdict is that Chennai will reach the semi-finals, and my gut feeling is they will be the IPL Season Three champions.