The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 season will commence from September 19 onwards. The first phase of the 14th edition was played in India before the tournament was suspended by the BCCI because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the focus shifts to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where last season’s edition was held.
Teams will look to start fresh in the IPL season remainder as the race for the playoffs will take centerstage. Two sides in the form of Delhi Capitals and Punjab Kings have played eight matches so far in the competition. The rest of the seven sides have played seven matches each. With many points still on offer, one expects things to heat up.
At the moment, the Delhi Capitals, who reached the IPL 2020 final, top the show with six wins and two losses. They have 12 points and are the favourites to finish in the top two. The Capitals have a powerful line-up and depth. The success achieved last season in UAE will help them big time.
After a disastrous IPL 2020 campaign, Chennai Super Kings showed character in the first half of the season in India. They have five wins and two losses from seven games. CSK have been thriving with both bat and ball. Like DC, they too look set to qualify.
Five-time IPL champions Mumbai Indians are placed fourth with four wins and three losses. MI, who possess top quality players and a settled unit, can turn things around in style. MI will once again be the favourites to win this season after dominating the show in the UAE last term. Expect the star players to come out all guns blazing.
These three teams are almost certain in making it to the playoffs and the fourth side that can join them are the Royal Challengers Bangalore. The Virat Kohli-led side is placed third at the moment. They have lost Washington Sundar due to injury and several other players are unavailable but the replacements have been good. Wanindu Hasaranga can be pivotal as a spinner. The onus will be on Kyle Jamieson and AB de Villiers to get RCB going.
However, the rest of the teams are unlikely to make the cut. We analyse the reasons why.
Punjab Kings have always been highly inconsistent. PBKS, who are placed sixth, would find things difficult. They have lost Australian duo Riley Meredith and Jhye Richardson but have roped in the experienced Adil Rashid, who can be a match-winner. However, it’s their tendency to fall flat with the bat given too much burden on KL Rahul atop. PBKS also are devoid of a genuine match-winner in the lower middle-order.
Kolkata Knight Riders have been woeful this season, losing five of the seven games. Another side whose batting looks out of place. With no Pat Cummins, KKR will hope Lockie Ferguson makes things count. They also need to play Shakib Al Hasan, given his top form in T20Is of late. Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell need to fire. However, KKR may fall short given the pressure they will be under and the inconsistency around.
Rajasthan Royals suffered blows in the form of Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes not being available. They have Glenn Philipps as Buttler’s replacement but he won’t solve the issues in their thin batting segment. Tabraiz Shamsi is a wise replacement player and his role will be immense. However, RR’s batting is the issue and they may be outmuscled in the absence of Buttler. Besides Sanju Samson, RR lack the desired bite.
Sunrisers Hyderabad failed to get going in the first phase, picking up just one win in seven matches. They have a mountain to climb from here on. It is unlikely that SRH will stitch seven wins or six given tough assignments against the top sides. Expect SRH to provide a fight but the damage suffered in the India leg will prove to be costly for the Orange Army. SRH can be the party spoilers though for teams battling for fourth place.