The IPL 2021 venues have been decided with the 8 franchises playing across 6 venues that sees no side benefitting from a home advantage and all games played at neutral venues.
Such a schedule throws up some interesting contests and in my mind ensures that the teams with the most balanced squads will once again dominate this year’s edition of the IPL much as was the case last season when the tournament was staged in the UAE.
Conditions play such an important part in determining the outcome of cricket matches and so understanding which players and teams will receive a benefit from the way the fixtures have fallen could prove crucial in determining a winner on a match by match basis as well as across the season as a whole.
Here I consider the 6 venues and look at teams playing at each to see who stands to benefit most from the recently released schedule for IPL 2021.
Venue: Arun Jaitley Stadium, Delhi
Teams: Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals, Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad
The wicket in Delhi tends to be a bit on the slower side and therefore you’d expect most batsman’s average and strike rate to drop as a result. Big name players including MS Dhoni, David Warner and Suryakumar Yadav all average 10 runs less at the Arun Jaitley stadium compared to their career averages.
However, the following players, all of whom are capable of accumulating runs, have all enjoyed success in previous seasons while playing in the nation’s capital.
Bowling wise CSK will certainly feel more at home on this track with the likes of Jadeja, Bravo and Tahir all having very good records at venue that can be difficult to score on against slower bowlers during the middle overs. For SRH while they too have some decent spinning options of their own, Rashid Khan has found it difficult to pick up wickets here in the past with just 1 victim in the 12 overs he’s delivered in his career to date.
With little life in the wicket a few of the quicks struggle to pick up wickets here with internationals like Bumrah, Thakar and Kaul all going for well above their career averages when playing in Delhi.
Venue: Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Teams: Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals, Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Sunrisers Hyderabad
Again, not usually a wicket that favours batsman, in fact, across some of the teams playing here in the 2021 IPL, it’s difficult to find a player with a positive record at Eden Gardens. Glen Maxwell is probably the only batsman who can claim to have enjoyed previous visits here with an average of 38.40 while playing in Kolkata. Virat Kohli and Wriddhiman Saha also have decent records here across their long careers.
On the flip side, the likes of David Warner, Kane Williamson, Ajinke Rahane and Shreyas Iyer all average on or below 20 runs an innings at a venue that they are going to have to call “home” this season.
Bowling wise, the pitch very much seems to favour English seamers with Chris Woakes of RCB having taken 14 wickets at Eden Gardens at an average of 12 and strike rate of 10 while Ben Stokes of RR has 4 wickets at under 10 a piece. There is no doubt that the wicket at Eden Gardens can offer that little bit of movement so going back to the basics of presenting the seam and bowling a decent length can pay dividends.
Watch highlights of Chris Woakes ripping through RCB at Eden Gardens as the team he now plays for records the lowest total in IPL history.
Venue: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore
Teams: Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders, Mumbai Indians, Punjab Kings, Rajasthan Royals, Sunrisers Hyderabad
At just shy of 1000m above sea-level, the M Chinnaswamy Stadium is renowned for its six hitting and therefore it’s no surprise that some of the biggest hitters in the IPL enjoy coming here.
If one of these 3 or indeed many of the batsman on show from these 6 franchises gets going, expect fireworks!
It’s generally not pretty reading as far as the bowling stats are concerned. Pace can certainly go the distance but equally the quicker bowlers tend to pick up the most wickets here with even some of the most established spinners in the form of Krunal Pandya, Sunil Narine and Imran Tahir having pretty lousy records. Bowling units will need to pick up wickets in the powerplay and have good options at the death. If you miss your line and length at this venue, expect to see the ball disappearing into or even over the stands – 6 out of the 10 biggest sixes in IPL history have been hit at this venue!
Venue: MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
Teams: Dehli Capitals, Kolkata Knight Riders, Mumbai Indians, Punjab Kings, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Sunrisers Hyderabad
The pitch in Chennai is known to be slow and low and produce a fair amount of spin which over the years has suited the bowling attack that CSK has put together. Of course, this is now the 2nd year in a row that MS Dhoni won’t have the luxury of deploying his plethora of spinners and change up bowlers at the MA Chidambaram Stadium with 6 of the other franchises left to overcome these conditions.
As a result it’s again difficult to find many batsmen who would want to take the Chennai pitch home with them. Andre Russell boasts a pretty good record here averaging 79 and no doubt helped by the lack of a genuine quick bowler in the CSK ranks when he’s played here before.
Outside of that most of even the big names have struggled in Chennai with Rohit Sharma averaging 21, Virat Kohli 32 and David Warner 26. Worryingly for SRH fans Warner really seems to have been given a bum draw in regards the venues he will be playing at this tournament with his average across the 4 way down on what it is over his entire career.
Bowling wise then it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the spinners on all sides enjoy themselves here and in Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla, KKR and Mumbai Indians have 2 players who know these conditions very well from their respective stints at CSK and can probably expect some game time when these fixtures come around.
Venue: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
Teams: Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals, Kolkata Knight Riders, Punjab Kings, Rajasthan Royals, Royal Challengers Bangalore
The Wankhede tends to have a little more pace than some of the pitches in the IPL which favours some of the genuine stroke players that league has to offer.
At the same time, those that don’t play quicker bowling quite as well have tended to struggle with KKR’s batsmen having a collectively awful record at this venue which may come as a concern when they go up against Rajasthan Royals and particularly Jofra Archer who has taken 5 wickets here at an average of 11 on his previous visits to Mumbai.
In general though, the big advantage for all teams visiting here is that they won’t have to play reigning champions Mumbai Indians which is likely to mean that all round batsman and bowlers could improve upon some lower than average scores in the absence of the most successful franchise in IPL history.
Venue: Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad
Teams: Delhi Capitals, Kolkata Knight Riders, Punjab Kings, Royal Challenger Bangalore
The last venue we consider is the newly refurbished and named Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad which now lays claim to being the biggest cricket stadium capacity wise in the world. Four franchises will play their round robin fixtures here while the play-offs and final will also take place in Ahmedabad.
Of all the venues, this is the hardest to get a feel for how previous form and conditions might influence the outcome of results. Firstly, there is always a bit of the unknown in regards how a stadium redevelopment might impact conditions and secondly with the ground out of action for a while there simply haven’t been enough fixtures to provide us with a huge amount of data on player performances here.
There are a few players from the days of the Gujarat Lions who have experience of playing games here before the redevelopment particularly Steve Smith, Karun Nair and Ajinke Rahane who averages an impressive 51 at this venue but it’s arguable that none of the 3 players will have a major role in their respective team’s campaigns so player performance at his venue is going to be a bit harder to call!