The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 season got over on Friday with Chennai Super Kings emerging triumphant after beating Kolkata Knight Riders in the final. CSK rode on experience and character to come out on top against a KKR side who collapsed with the bat to submit themselves completely. This IPL season was a different ride altogether, having two different phases across two nations in different timelines of the year. It was challenging but also sweet to see the return of fans to the UAE stadiums after phase 1 was behind closed doors in India.
Several players emerged to make a mark for themselves and it was good to see a mix of domestic young pacers. With the bat too, many Indian players found joy and stepped up. Three teams played with consistency throughout to go far, whereas, someone like KKR used the second phase to make a complete turnaround which even had MS Dhoni impressed. With plenty to talk about, we analyse the 10 major takeaways from the IPL 2021 season.
Experience brings joy in challenging moments
CSK showed their old dogs still have the bite to cause harm. This was another terrific show by the Super Kings, whose veteran stars stood out to deliver in pivotal moments. Be it a 35-year-old Robin Uthappa, who played two match-winning knocks in Qualifier 1 and the final. The 37-year-old Faf Du Plessis, who dictated the show in the final, or the 40-year-old MS Dhoni, whose leadership stood the test of times once again. In between, Dwayne Bravo, Ambati Rayudu, Moeen Ali all chipped in to show why experience matters and not age!
MS Dhoni is the best in business
Guiding CSK to their fourth IPL title and looking so calm and honest in his approach, MS Dhoni was a treat to watch. After CSK’s woeful show last season, MSD made sure his side showed the hunger and zeal to make a stunning comeback and show why they have been a consistent force in the IPL. Even when CSK had virtually sealed the final against KKR, Dhoni was seen busy with his instructions to Shardul Thakur and Bravo. He is quite the perfectionist. To win the title on your 300th T20 match as skipper was commendable.
KL Rahul is IPL’s Mr Consistent
Very few batters in world cricket have managed the sort of consistency for years in global T20 tournaments. KL Rahul, who joined Punjab Kings in 2018, has been the tournament’s most consistent force across the last four seasons. This season too, Rahul amassed 626 runs and was only beaten by Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf for the Orange Cap. Since joining PBKS, Rahul has scored 2,548 runs (highest), besides registering the most fifties (23) and sixes (110).
KKR show what turnaround can be
Done, dusted, and dodgy were words associated with KKR when they managed just two wins from seven in the first phase in India. They had an awful NRR and just four points in their bag. Come UAE, and KKR changed the complexion completely. They sealed five memorable wins out of seven to finish as the fourth-placed side. They outwit both RCB and DC in must-win games to make it to the final. Such was KKR’s turnaround in form.
MI highlight they can be vulnerable too
Mumbai Indians came into the IPL 2021 season as the defending champions and despite being in the reckoning for a place in the playoffs, they couldn’t quite seal the deal after inconsistency hit them in UAE. MI showed a champion team like them can be vulnerable in departments and not produce the goods. For a side that has tasted so much success, MI left it too late for themselves and exited the tourney on an inferior NRR. Rohit Sharma highlighted the collective failure as a group.
SRH get it wrong with Warner
David Warner has been SRH’s best player to date and he has also led them to a title win, besides earning three Orange Caps. However, his lack of form and not being able to manage wins led to him being sacked as captain before he was dropped. It was a harsh move given SRH’s fortunes didn’t change under Kane Williamson as well. SRH are an average side with no power in batting and sadly Warner got the cull.
Kohli can be proud of himself
Virat Kohli won’t be captaining RCB anymore from IPL 2022 onwards. He will continue to play for the side though. Kohli failed to win an IPL trophy with RCB and many times his captaincy was criticised heavily. However, he can be proud of the manner he stepped out this season and looked sharp as a skipper. He helped his side reach the playoffs for a second successive season and that should be a major highlight.
Harshal and Ruturaj have bright futures
Uncapped Harshal Patel won the Purple Cap, claiming 32 wickets (joint-most in an IPL season). The RCB pacer showed a great level of consistency and indicated his versatility as a T20 bowler. He was superb across phases and brings a new set of options for India in the future as a death bowler. On the other hand, Ruturaj can be looked at as a future Indian opener. His class and style stood out as he delivered in the big games. With 635 runs, Ruturaj won the Orange Cap and formed the nucleus of CSK.
RR got it wrong with Morris
RR shelled a staggering Rs 16.25 crore for Chris Morris and the move didn’t pay off. Morris was nowhere near to the expectations set and was a disappointment largely. This was despite him being bought by RCB for Rs 10 crore last time around and was then released. Morris failed to deliver in the UAE leg just when other pacers enjoyed themselves. With 15 wickets in total and 67 runs with the bat, the returns were minimal given the hefty investment.
DC need to keep pushing
Being the finalists in 2020 and having such a dream squad on offer this time, DC did everything right in the league stage but failed in the playoffs. They were outplayed by MI in the final last season and faced a similar defeat against CSK in Qualifier 1 before being edged by KKR. DC have the credentials to go the distance but lack experience. They need to keep pushing and change their luck in the final leg.