• Yashraj

IPL 2021:3 Days To Go For The Match. Time to Delve 8 Teams

The unexpected break has changed the dynamics of IPL 2021 quite a bit. Not only has the star cast been tweaked, the second half is slated to take place in the UAE and in conditions that are significantly different to India.

The unexpected break has changed the dynamics of IPL 2021 quite a bit.
The unexpected break has changed the dynamics of IPL 2021 quite a bit.

The second leg of IPL 2021 schedule is all set to get underway in the UAE on September 19 with two-time defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) locking horns with Chennai Super Kings (CSK). Fans and franchises are all gearing up for the T20 extravaganza to recommence after COVID-19 forced the tournament to a halt earlier this year.

Before the IPL was suspended in the summer, the Delhi Capitals showcased their extraordinary strength and marched to the top of the IPL 2021 points table. Chennai Super Kings, wounded after a dismal 2020 outing, looked close to their best too and solidified second spot.

The Royal Challengers Bangalore, on the other hand, defied expectations and were vindicated in the trust they placed in Glenn Maxwell, ultimately propelling themselves to third, just behind CSK on Net Run Rate (NRR).

Mumbai Indians, in consonance with previous editions, endured a slow start but did enough post the Chennai leg to bag a place in the top four, with the Punjab Kings (6th) and the Rajasthan Royals rounding off the top six.

The Sunrisers Hyderabad, rather uncharacteristically, were languishing at the foot of the table, whereas the Kolkata Knight Riders – another side plenty expected to compete for the title, giving them ample company.

With just a few days remaining until the resumption of the IPL, the time could be ripe to delve into predictions and analyze where the teams, armed with new weapons in their arsenal, might finish come the end of the league stages.

1.Chennai Super Kings

The three-time champions and five-time-runners up, Chennai Super Kings are again one of the favorites to win the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Led by MS Dhoni, CSK has a good mix of youth and experience in their ranks in the likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Sam Curran, Faf du Plessis, and Suresh Raina and will be a team to watch out for.

The Jadeja-Dhoni combo

After establishing himself as India’s first-choice spin-allrounder across formats, Ravindra Jadeja is expected to use the second half of the IPL to get into the T20 World Cup groove. By mid-October, pitches in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah should start assisting spinners. A good show in the IPL will hold the left-arm spinner in good stead. Watch out for a few tricks that could be in store; Dhoni and Jadeja working in tandem. A gentle reminder, Dhoni would be India’s team mentor at the ICC event.

2.Delhi Capitals

Top of the table with 12 points from eight matches, DC have been upwardly mobile under head coach Ricky Ponting. With Shreyas back in the mix and Pant excelling as captain, they can be even better – rather scarily for the rest of the IPL pack.

Focus on Ashwin

Washington Sundar’s injury paved the way for Ravichandran Ashwin to return to India’s T20 fold for the World Cup. A couple of factors could be important here: How DC captain Rishabh Pant uses the senior off-spinner, for Ashwin would love to bowl in the Powerplays.

3.Kolkata Knight Riders

The two-time IPL champions, Kolkata Knight Riders haven’t managed to reach the playoffs since the 2018 IPL edition. The Eoin-Morgan-led side is sitting at the seventh spot in the IPL 2021 phase 1 standings with just two wins in seven games played so far. Can they bounce back to winning ways and end their playoffs drought this time?

Varun’s challenge

Varun Chakravarthy was impressive enough in the first phase of the IPL for the national selectors to include him in the T20 World Cup squad. At the ICC event, he will have to fight with Ashwin, Axar Patel and Rahul Chahar for a place in the playing eleven. Varun’s challenge at the IPL would be to strengthen his case.

4.Mumbai Indians

With five IPL trophies, Mumbai Indians are the most successful franchise in the history of the Indian Premier League. The reigning champions have one of the most balanced squads including the likes of Hit-man Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard, Jasprit Bumrah, and Pandya brothers. Mumbai Indians have blown hot and cold in the first leg of the IPL 2021 and are ranked fourth in the league standings and it will be interesting to watch them climb up the ladder once the UAE leg kickoffs.

The Bumrah (workload) factor

Jasprit Bumrah bowled 151 overs in four Tests in England. Central to India’s success in the T20 World Cup, the fast bowler needs to be at his peak during the ICC event. And therein lies the conundrum – how to manage Bumrah’s workload, for he is indispensable for his franchise too.

5.Punjab Kings

Six points from eight matches, with the likes of KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, and Mohammad Shami, Punjab Kings would be eying their maiden IPL win when the tournament restarts on 19 September in UAE.

Handle with care

The Punjab Kings looked like an outfit capable of throwing a spanner in the oppositions’ works. However, as time passed, they fell back to their old habits – habits that forced them to produce an insipid display, just days after being close to their best. And Mohammed Shami needs to be handled with care, workload-wise.

6.Royal Challengers Bangalore

Ever since the IPL began, the Royal Challengers Bangalore have managed to generate an enormous amount of hype. They’ve almost always had the players capable of springing spectators out of their seats. They will resume their campaign with 10 points from seven matches and going by their performance in the first phase, RCB look good enough to go the distance.

Kohli’s exam

Nine years into his RCB reign, Virat Kohli is under pressure to win the title. The Kohli-led had a terrific start to IPL 2021 campaign as they registered four consecutive wins. They are currently placed third in the league standings with five wins and two defeats in seven outings and would be hoping for a similar run in UAE. Can they break their jinx this time and win their maiden IPL trophy?

7.Rajasthan Royals

During IPL 2021’s first leg, the Rajasthan Royals looked a side capable of rattling the odd cage. To an extent, they even did it. Without Ben Stokes, Chofra Archer and Jos Butler, they pulled themselves to fifth place, mainly relying on Jos Butler and Sanju · Samson's talents.

Samson’s response

For Royals to secure a Playoff berth, Sanju Samson will have to lead from the front. Samson lost out to Ishan Kishan for the second wicketkeeper’s slot in India’s T20 World Cup squad. His franchise would benefit from a strong response to the disappointment.

8.Sunrisers Hyderabad

The 2016 Champions Sunrisers Hyderabad is languishing at the bottom of the points table with just a solitary win in seven outings in the first phase of IPL 2021. The Kane Williamson-led side would be hoping for some change in fortune with the change in venue, as the second leg is scheduled to take place in UAE. Interestingly, Sunrisers Hyderabad has managed to reach the playoffs for four straight editions. Can they keep the streak alive and make it five consecutive playoff finishes?

Rashid Khan

Rashid Khan has been synonymous with the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) for quite a while now. You wouldn’t find too many players as impactful as him right now. The Afghan sensation has a knack of changing the game in just a few overs.

He was good in the first phase of IPL 2021 as well. The all-rounder picked 10 wickets in seven matches. His bowling average was 17.20.

IPL Full Schedule

While the entire IPL 2020 was played inside closed doors, even the first half of IPL 2021 did not see any fan entering the stadium. This means that the MI-CSK clash on September 19 will be the first time since the final of IPL 2019 that a match of the tournament will be witnessed by fans live from the venue.

In a media release on Wednesday, the BCCI revealed that the crowd will return to IPL matches after a gap of over two years due to the coronavirus pandemic meant the teams played inside closed doors in front of empty stands.

“This match will be a momentous occasion as IPL will welcome the fans back to the stadiums after a brief hiatus owing to Covid-19 situation," the statement read.