HYDERABAD, INDIA – MAY 12: The Mumbai Indians celebrate after they defeat the Chennai Super Kings during the Indian Premier League final game between the Mumbai Indians and the Chennai Super Kings at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium on May 12, 2019 in Hyderabad , Have defeated India.
Robert Cianflone | Getty Images Sports | Getty Images
The Indian Premier League 2021 season starts on Friday. Here’s everything you need to know about the eight teams battling for the title …
CHENNAI SUPER KINGS
English players: Moeen Ali, Sam Curran
Other overseas players: Dwayne Bravo (West Indies), Faf du Plessis (South Africa), Imran Tahir (South Africa), Lungi Ngidi (South Africa), Mitchell Santner (New Zealand), Jason Behrendorff (Australia)
Indian players: MS Dhoni (captain), Ambati Rayudu, C. Hari Nishanth, Cheteshwar Pujara, Deepak Chahar, Harisankar Reddy, K. Bhagath Varma, K. Gowtham, Karn Sharma, KM Asif, Narayan Jagadeesan, R. Sai Kishore, Ravindra Jadeja, Robin Uthappa, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shardul Thakur, Suresh Raina
Head coach: Stephen Fleming
Best finish: Winner (2010, 2011, 2018)
Last season’s story: CSK defeated defending champions Mumbai Indians in the tournament opener but that was as good as in a memorable campaign for the three-time winners. The final table suggests they narrowly missed the play-offs, but two of Chennai’s six wins came after being knocked out and were only there to avoid the shame of one last place. It wasn’t all doom and gloom, however, Sam Curran was excellent with bat and ball and young opener Ruturaj Gaikwad hit three fifties in just six innings to give CSK optimism for the future.
2021 opportunities: With one of the great white ball captains, MS Dhoni leading the crew, you can’t rule Chennai out. However, it would take something special to end the campaign with a fourth IPL crown. Moeen Ali, Cheteshwar Pujara and Robin Uthappa have joined the team to expand a roster with a lot of experience. If anyone is able to produce something special, it is Ravindra Jadeja who should be back after an injury to strengthen the XI in all three departments. There are questions about whether part of this established core could have grown old from experienced to simply, so the achievements of youngsters like Gaikwad and Curran will be all the more important to their chances.
Six hits? At 35 Ambati Rayudu is certainly part of a fairly large group of senior statesmen in the CSK, but when it comes to big hitting, he can mix it with the best young talent who can get away with it. Only Faf du Plessis scored more runs than he did for Chennai last year, but after having only passed 50 runs once, Rayudu will want more meaningful entries this time.
Wicket taker? Curran was a rare bright spark in 2020. He moved up and down with the bat, scoring quickly, if not always over a long period of time, but with the ball he was Chennai’s best player with 13 wickets. He has shown his talent for taking wickets at key times with England and it was no different for CSK, Dhoni will want more of that from the left this time around.
English players: Sam Billings, Tom Curran and Chris Woakes
Other overseas players: Kagiso Rabada (South Africa), Anrich Nortje (South Africa), Steve Smith (Australia), Marcus Stoinis (Australia), Shimron Hetmyer (West Indies)
Indian players: Rishabh Pant (Captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Amit Mishra, Avesh Khan, Axar Patel, Ishant Sharma, Lalit Yadav, Lukman Meriwala, Manimaran Siddharth, Praveen Dubey, Prithvi Shaw, R Ashwin, Ripal Patel, Shikhar Dhawan, Umesh Yadav, Vishnu Vinodav
Head coach: Ricky Ponting
Best finish: Second (2020)
Last season’s story: Inspired by the South African tempo duo Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje and the runs of Shikhar Dhawan, Delhi flew out of the traps in the United Arab Emirates and cemented its place in the top 2 before overcoming a wobble for the first time. In the final, however, they faced the all-conquering Mumbai Indians as they continued to wait for a first title.
2021 opportunities: Capitals suffered a severe blow when captain Shreyas Iyer was banned from the tournament due to a shoulder problem, while star spinner Axar Patel could also miss the first or second game after contracting with Covid-19. They added one of the world’s foremost batsmen in Steve Smith, however, and even without Iyer, it still has all of the ingredients that made them such a force in 2020: fast, wicket-taking bowlers, cunning local weirdos, and an abundance of power hitters. Delhi is ready for another run for the title.
Six hits? Rishabh Pant, Who else? After a remarkable start into 2021, Pant was named the captain of Delhi for this year’s competition. The left-handed is perhaps the most explosive batsman in world cricket and he’s in shape of his life. Can he beat Delhi to the title? You wouldn’t rule it out. Even if he misses, Dhawan, Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis, Prithvi Shaw, and Ajinkya Rahane are just a few of the DC batsmen capable of knocking down opposition attacks.
Wicket taker? If Pant is one of the most exciting batsmen in the world, then it is Rabada has an equivalent status among bowlers. The Proteas Pacer claimed the IPL purple cap and leading wicket taker at 30 last year and is getting better and better. A supporting cast of Nortje, R. Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Amit Mishra and the newly arrived Chris Woakes isn’t bad either!
English players: Eoin Morgan (captain)
Other overseas players: Andre Russell (West Indies), Sunil Narine (West Indies), Pat Cummins (Australia), Ben Cutting (Australia), Lockie Ferguson (New Zealand), Tim Seifert (New Zealand), Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)
Indian players: Dinesh Karthik, Harbhajan Singh, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Karun Nair, Kuldeep Yadav, Nitish Rana, Pawan Negi, Prasidh Krishna, Rahul Tripathi, Gurkeerat Singh, Sandeep Warrier, Sheldon Jackson, Shivam Mavi, Shubman Gill, Vaibhav Arora, Varun Chakenkathi
Head coach: Brendon McCullum
Best finish: Winner (2012, 2014)
Last season’s story: It was an odd old campaign for KKR where they ultimately missed play-offs at net run rate after Sunrisers Hyderabad beat already-qualified Mumbai in the final game of the group stage. On a mixed start, Dinesh Karthik, the most popular Indian expert of all time, was replaced by Eoin Morgan as skipper, but the results stayed up and down. Andre Russell played 10 games but never seemed nearly 100 percent fit while the usually extremely reliable Pat Cummins blew hot and cold. However, Lockie Ferguson’s pace setting towards the end of the tournament was very encouraging for Kolkata.
2021 opportunities: Brendon McCullum has had time to settle in his role as head coach, Morgan is well established as the captain, and the KKR roster looks strong. Russell’s fitness remains an issue, but when he’s at his best it could make all the difference – with both racket and ball. A full season of Ferguson, along with Cummins, Prasidh Krishna, and Shivam Mavi, increases their pace options while they’re in Kuldeep Yadav and Varun Chakravathi own two highly effective weirdos. Sunil Narine has played a huge role in the past few years but now faces real competition with Shakib Al Hasan – choosing the right mix of overseas stars could be KKR’s biggest dilemma.
Six hits? At best, there is no competition: it’s Russell. Dre Russ is a six hit machine. However, since he had problems in the last term, Morgan appeared in his role as finisher and shot 24 sixes, which he finished fifth in the IPL. The incredibly talented Shubman Gill, as well as Nitish Rana, can clear the ropes.
Wicket taker? Chakravathi led for KKR in the UAE at 17, followed by Cummins at 12. Ferguson could be the main man this year but he played six in just five games last year and with his rapid pace he will always make life difficult for batsmen.
In this image, taken on October 10, 2020, a taxi drives past a hoard of Mumbai Indian cricket players participating in the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament in Mumbai.
INDRANIL MUKHERJEE | AFP | Getty Images
English players: None
Other overseas players: Kieron Pollard (West Indies), Quinton de Kock (South Africa), Marco Jansen (South Africa), Trent Boult (New Zealand), James Neesham (New Zealand), Adam Milne (New Zealand), Chris Lynn (Australia), Nathan Coulter-Nil (Australia )
Indian players: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Aditya Tare, Anmolpreet Singh, Anukul Roy, Arjun Tendulkar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Jasprit Bumrah, Jayant Yadav, Krunal Pandya, Mohsin Khan, Piyush Chawla, Rahul Chahar, Saurabh Tiwary, Yudhvir Singh Charak
Head coach: Mahela Jayawardene
Best finish: Winner (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2020)
Last season’s story: After a year off, a year off since their first triumph in 2013, Mumbai decided to mess things up and win them one at a time. It was a typically slow start before they took their step at just the right time. They qualified in the time they had, and not only that, but led the group, despite the fact that Captain Rohit Sharma went missing for a decent part of it. In the knockout round, they defeated a strong team from Delhi twice to get the IPL trophy for the fifth time.
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2021 opportunities: Mahela Jayawardene’s squad remains the team to beat. There’s a reason they were named the best T20 site ever. Not only is their roster full of talent, their XI’s balance was near perfect and, frankly, they don’t seem to have any weaknesses. Just check out the squad above and see if you can find an area they are bright in. Maybe spin bowling? Even if they lack stars in this department, in Krunal Pandya, Piyush Chawla and Rahul Chahar, they have proven and reliable IPL players to fall back on. Of course, players still have to do it when it counts, but there is every chance of a Mumbai three-pod in 2021.
Six hits? England fans got a glimpse of what Ishan Kishan is able, while the T20I series last month, it was an eye-opening display of hitting. Everyone who’s paid attention to the IPL in the past few years had seen it all – not that it made it any less impressive! Kishan scored a staggering – and IPL lead – 30 sixes last year and the 22-year-old’s efforts against England showed that he is ready for more!
Wicket taker? Look no further than Jasprite Bumrah. Not only is he the pre-eminent white ball bowler of his generation who can take wickets and dry runs at any stage of an inning, but he’s also very well rested after the final Test and all white ball games of India’s streak with England.
DHARAMSHALA, INDIA – MAY 17: View of Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium where IPL Twenty 20 cricket match between Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings is played on May 17, 2012 in Dharamshala, India.
Hindustan Times | Hindustan Times | Getty Images
English players: Dawid Malan, Chris Jordan
Other overseas players: Chris Gayle (West Indies), Nicholas Pooran (West Indies), Fabian Allen (West Indies), Jhye Richardson (Australia), Moises Henriques (Australia), Riley Meredith (Australia)
Indian players: KL Rahul (captain), Arshdeep Singh, Darshan Nalkande, Deepak Hooda, Harpreet Brar, Ishan Porel, Jalaj Saxena, Mandeep Singh, Mayank Agarwal, Mohammed Shami, Murugan Ashwin, Prabhsimran Singh, Ravi Bishnoi, Sarfaraz Khan, Saurabh Kumar, Shahrukh Khan , Utkarsh Singh
Head coach: Anil Kumble
Best finish: Second (2014)
Last season’s story: Another lost season. While their pride was somewhat saved with five straight wins to have the team suddenly in the playoffs with two games to go, it was their start where they lost six of their first seven to keep their feet firmly on the team’s table which proved to be insurmountable.
2021 opportunities: The Kings hope that a slight change in their name will result in a turnaround from traditional tournament fighters to playoff competitors. Kings has only finished in the top 4 twice in 13 years, while they have been in the bottom three times. In addition to the name change, Englishman Dawid Malan, the world’s No. 1 T20 batsman, comes to bolster the eyelash, while Australian Tempo couple Riley Meredith and Jhye Richardson could prove to be smart pickups.
Six hits? KL Rahul ended the 2020 season as the leading runscorer in the IPL – 670 runs with an average of 55.83 – and was thus able to rightly claim the six goals for Kings, but for that Nicholas Pooran lives in their middle order. There are only a few sweeter cricket ball strikers in the world than the lazy left-handed West Indian, who cleared the ropes 25 times in 2020 – synonymous with the fourth-most sixes in the tournament.
Wicket taker? Meredith. Young Australian Quick is in his first IPL, so this seems like an odd choice, especially considering fellow compatriot Richardson outperformed him in the 2020/21 Big Bash and ended up as the tournament’s leading wicket taker – 29 in 17 games with an average of 16.31. But ask Shane Warne his thoughts on Tasmanian Meredith, 24, who made his T20I debut for Australia in March, and you’ll quickly see why he was caught by Kings.
English players: Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer and Liam Livingstone
Other overseas players: Chris Morris (South Africa), David Miller (South Africa), Mustafizur Rahman (Bangladesh), Andrew Tye (Australia)
Indian players: Sanju Samson (Captain), Akash Singh, Anuj Rawat, Chetan Sakariya, Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi, KC Cariappa, Kuldeep Yadav, Mahipal Lomror, Manan Vohra, Mayank Markande, Rahul Tewatia, Riyan Parag, Shivam Dube, Shreyas Gopal, Yashas
Head coach: Andrew McDonald
Best finish: Winner (2008)
Last season’s story: An extremely disappointing result in last place, especially considering the breadth of talent, especially the English talent available to them. The Royals had some impressive performances along the way; Jofra Archer was sensational, claiming 20 wickets with an average of 18.25 for the tournament with a poor economy of 6.55 and up. Ben Stokes impressed when moved to open the innings when he scored an unbeaten 107 in a win over Kings, but Rajasthan could never find a consequence to pull together a string of wins to keep them competitive.
2021 opportunities: The talent remains with the English contingent Archer, Stokes and Jos Buttler all retained (and Liam Livingstone stepped down), but Archer’s availability is in doubt after recently undergoing surgery on his hand and having a persistent elbow injury that continues to worry him. A quick start from the gates is essential with the hope that the Royals will battle for the timing that England get into the lineup quickly.
Six hits? Buttler will surely feel disappointed if he is overlooked for his English teammate, but it was Stokes who excelled last year when he promoted the opening contract at Buttler’s expense. If you need more evidence of his six hits, just check out his extremely devastating 99 balls out of 52 in England’s second ODI win over India on their recent tour of breaking the ropes ten times.
Wicket taker? Chris Morris is expected to contribute with both the bat and the ball after setting Rajasthan’s IPL record of £ 1.61million at auction, and Archer will no doubt lead the attack once, but with Questions that are currently hanging over both, it could finally be Jaydev UnadkatTime for the royals? The sailor with the left arm has been a huge disappointment since signing in 2018, but the team stood by him and kept him again – he must now repay that belief.
Rajasthan Royals player Ben Stokes during training prior to the IPL game against Kings XI Punjab at Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India on Sunday, March 24, 2019.
NurPhoto | NurPhoto | Getty Images
ROYAL CHALLENGES BANGALORE
English players: None
Other overseas players: AB de Villiers (South Africa), Glenn Maxwell (Australia), Adam Zampa (Australia), Dan Christian (Australia), Daniel Sams (Australia), Kane Richardson (Australia), Kyle Jamieson (New Zealand), Finn Allen (New Zealand))
Indian players: Virat Kohli (Captain), Devdutt Padikkal, Harshal Patel, KS Bharat, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Pavan Deshpande, Rajat Patidar, Sachin Baby, Shahbaz Ahmed, Suyash Prabhudessai, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal
Head coach: Simon Katich
Best finish: Second (2009, 2011, 2016)
Last season’s story: Despite finishing fourth, RCB continues to flatter to deceive in the IPL, despite their loaded squad. Fans can point to a first trip to the playoffs in four seasons (since finishing second in 2016) as a sign of progress, but dig a little deeper, and RCB stumbled into their last four losses with four straights to end the season – who quickly turned five when Sunrisers knocked her out in the Eliminator.
2021 opportunities: Virat Kohli’s men again expect to be finally crowned IPL champion. The reality, however, is that although they will be challengers for the title again and could reach the playoffs well, they still don’t look completely balanced and rely too heavily on the punching talent available to them again.
Six hits? Glenn Maxwell. The longtime Kings star is now on its way to Bangalore, where it will only add to an already explosive line-up. It could prove to be the perfect move for Maxwell, who has often been weighed down by the expectations in Punjab and instead may be exempted and given a greater license to operate the willow due to the platforms Kohli is sure to provide for him. AB de Villiers and the like.
Wicket taker? Yuzvendra Chahal. And RCB is hoping it will be the 2020 version of the Legspinner that won 21 wickets last year with an average of 19.28 per pop, as opposed to the one that struggled mightily against England in the previous T20 series, before it was dropped. Another point to look out for is the fast kiwi Kyle Jamieson, who has made a name for himself since returning an incredible 6-7 numbers at the 2019 Super Smash in New Zealand. Since then, international recognition and an IPL bidding war for its services followed, which RCB ultimately won.
English players: Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow
Other overseas players: David Warner (Australia, captain), Mitchell Marsh (Australia), Kane Williamson (New Zealand), Rashid Khan (Afghanistan), Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan), Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afghanistan), Jason Holder (West Indies)
Indian players: Abdul Samad, Abhishek Sharma, Basil Thampi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jagadeesha Suchith, Kedar Jadhav, Khaleel Ahmed, Manish Pandey, Priyam Garg, Sandeep Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Shreevats Goswami, Siddarth Kaul, T Natarajan, Vijay Shankar, Virat Singh
Head coach: Trevor Bayliss
Best finish: Winner (2016)
Last season’s story: Starting with two losses, the Sunrisers hobbled to seven losses in their first eleven games, staring at an early exit. A slight improvement in their line-up that bolstered bowling by bringing on Jason Holder for Jonny Bairstow, who by then had had an impressive tournament (31.36 avg, 126.83 hit rate), seemed to have the desired effect when they did their last three to sneak won the playoffs before Delhi was finally eliminated in the final qualifier.
2021 opportunities: Sunrisers are always competitive. They haven’t failed to reach the last four since winning the tournament in 2016. They only made it back to the finals once, however, when they were beaten by Chennai in 2018. They remain a very balanced team and will be further strengthened for 2021 with the return to fitness and form of sailor Bhuvneshwar Kumar, whose death bowling brilliance caused England all sorts of problems on their recent white ball tour of India.
Six hits? David Warner is consistently at the top of the runscoring charts in the IPL. So why should 2021 be any different? His 2020 tournament track of 548 runs with an average of 39.14 and a hit rate of 134.64 was good enough for third-best place in the league.
Wicket taker? Rashid Khan is another, extremely consistent IPL performer for Sunrisers and widely regarded as the best T20 bowler in the world. The Afghan leg spinner has another stellar season in 2020, ending with 20 wickets at an average of 17.20 – despite the fact that teams rarely choose to take over and attack it, which is reflected in its meager thrift of just 5 , 37 runs is occupied.