IPL 2021 Top run scorer predictions for every team

Having provided tips on the odds for the highest run getter overall, we turn our attention to predictions for the top run scorer at all 8 IPL 2021 teams including CSK, DC, KKR, MI, PBKS, RCB, RR and SRH.

Of course the field for the orange cap is very large and competitive but as we shift our analysis to consider each teams leading batsmen we are generally left with 2 or 3 plausible candidates to be each franchise’s top run scorer in IPL 2021 making predictions that much easier and once again enabling savvy gamblers a chance of hedging their bets across multiple players.

CSK top run scorer predictions IPL 2021

It appears their are 3 viable candidates at the top of the order for CSK to be their top run scorer in IPL 2021.

Faf du Plessis

The South African has been a stalwart in this CSK side for some time and with other experienced players now hanging up their boots much of the run scoring responsibility will fall upon his broad shoulders during IPL 2021. Despite CSK having a disappointing season last time out, Faf still managed to contribute 449 runs to the cause finishing 11th in the overall contest for leading run scorer and comfortably clear of anyone else in a yellow shirt. It is that consistency both on a season by season basis and across all conditions that makes du Plessis the favourite to once again be CSK’s top run scorer in this season’s IPL and you can back him at generous odds of 3.75 to do just that.

du Plessis is favourite to be CSK's top run scorer
Faf du Plessis will once again be a key batsmen for CSK source

Ambati Rayudu

You can back Rayudu to lead the scoring charts for CSK this year at odds of 4.5. Rayudu never quite got over his snub for India’s World Cup squad in 2019 having had a stellar IPL season in the 2018 tournament when largely speaking he opened the batting. At the very least he may find himself handed the opportunity to bat number 3 in IPL 2021 and he is coming off the back of runs in domestic cricket. CSK start their campaign with 5 games at the Wankhede Stadium, a venue that Rayudu knows well from his time with Mumbai Indians

Delhi Capitals top run scorer predictions IPL 2021

With such a strong top order, picking a top run scorer for DC this year will be a tough task and it’s likely to come down to 4 batsmen on their books 3 of whom we have also tipped to be challenging for the orange cap at the end of the season!

Steve Smith

The former Rajasthan Royals captain certainly has a point to prove during IPL 2021 having been released by his former franchise and then failing to attract very much attention during the auction that followed. Still, this is a batsmen capable of scoring runs on a truly monumental scale and while there may have been a few raised eyebrows at his signing by DC, with the injury to Shreyas Iyer likely to keep him out all season, Smith’s favoured number 3 spot in T20 cricket has suddenly become available. At odds of 3.75 for him to be the Capitals’ top run scorer in IPL 2021 he is certainly worth a bet.

Shikhar Dhawan

Dhawan is likely to play as the more conservative opener next to Prithvi Shaw, a role that suited him well last season as he finally got his first IPL hundred and then immediately followed it up with another. Despite being dropped from India’s T20 squad early in the series vs England, he returned to the 50 over team and looked in very good form throughout. His experience in this competition makes him a good bet to once again be Delhi Capitals top run scorer in IPL 2021 and you can back him to that at odds of 3.75

Rishabh Pant

Having been left out of India’s squad for the 1st Test against Australia, Pant has since returned and can rightly claim to have been India’s best batsmen across all forms of the game over the last few months. T20 cricket is where he first made his name with IPL 2018 seeing him hit an incredible 684 runs to lead his side’s scoring charts. He’s likely to bat most of the season outside the top 3 and this will work against him being able to consistently face enough balls to rack up the really big scores. However, as Pant has shown in the past, he doesn’t need many balls to influence a game of cricket and you can back him as DC’s top run scorer in IPL 2021 at odds of 4.5

Pant was DC's top run scorer in IPL 2018
Pant has been in fine form in all forms of cricket for India lately source
KKR top run scorer predictions IPL 2021

Who will score the top order runs for KKR is a pressing concern for the franchise in general but one name stands out as a player who could provide that much needed stability at the start of games.

Shubman Gill

While there are some question marks over Gill’s style of play and tempo as to whether he is really suited to T20, what he certainly offers is a classy stroke playing option at the top of the order that can anchor the innings. His 440 runs last season were crucial to KKR’s challenge for a playoff place and you’d image he will need to offer similar consistency this year if KKR are to improve on a topsy turvy season in 2020. You can back him to be KKR’s top run scorer in IPL 2021 at odds of 3.5 which seems very good value given the lack of alternatives the Knight Riders possess.

Eoin Morgan

KKR’s new captain had an excellent season despite his team’s struggles. Again, as a batsmen generally playing outside the top 3, the chances for him to score big runs on a consistent basis may be limited albeit that last the KKR top order failed so regularly that Morgan did see enough action to pass the 400 run mark. You can back him to be KKR’s top run scorer in IPL 2021 at odds of 7.0

Mumbai Indians top run scorer predictions IPL 2021

Rohit Sharma is once again the favourite to top MI’s scoring charts this season but his form over the last couple of IPL seasons suggest his price of 3.25 may be poor value while alternatives could yet prove a good bet.

Suyakumar Yadav

That better value to be MI’s top run scorer in IPL 2021 can surely be found in the form of Suryakumar Yadav who also appears in our list of predictions for Orange Cap winner. Yadav finshed as the franchise’s leading run scorer in 2018 and has been within touching distance the past couple of seasons too. His debut for India shows that his career is very much on the up and up and he’ll be looking for a strong IPL to cement his place in the World Cup squad. You can back him to score more runs than any of his celebrated teammates at very generous odds of 6.0

Quinton de Kock

Again better value than Rohit can be found in the odds of his opening partner de Kock. Since arrivng at the franchise the South African left hander has scored more runs than anyone else at Mumbai Indians and I’d be surprised if he is finished there. You can back him to once again be Mumbai’s top run scorer at odds of 4.0.

Ishan Kishan

The explosive left hander was Mumbai Indian’s top scorer last season and there is nothing to suggest that he can’t be as effective again this season. Batting at number 4 might limit his chances at times but equally we have seen Mumbai be flexible with their line-up in the past and if that is the case again and Kishan gets more time at the top of the order then his odds of 5.0 will seem very generous.

Punjab Kings top run scorer predictions in IPL 2021

KL Rahul

KL Rahul has topped the run scoring chart for Punjab Kings for the last 3 IPL seasons and given that no one has finished within 100 runs of him during that time, it’s difficult to see past him as the franchise’s top run scorer once again. As you’d imagine the odds on him to do so are pretty short at 2.10 but to be honest I can’t see any particular value in regards his closest challengers so a bet on the favourite is the way to go.

RCB top run scorer predictions in IPL 2021
Padikkal finished last IPL as RCB's top scorer
Young Padikkal was RCB’s top run scorer in IPL 2020 source

Virat Kohli is the favourite to be RCB’s top run scorer and he was our number 1 prediction to win the Orange Cap following his announcement that he plans to open the batting this year. While his odds for tournament top run scorer seemed a good price his value to lead RCB on that front isn’t so great at odds of just 1.8. It’s true that there are holes in this RCB line-up but in regards top-order batsmen there is still some others to consider

Devdutt Padikkal

The left handed opener out scored both Kohli and AB in last season’s IPL and he comes into this tournament off the back of some very good form in domestic cricket. The second season for any youngster can be a difficult one but he represents good value at odds of 5.0 to repeat his efforts of 2020 and finish as RCB’s top run scorer.

Rajasthan Royals top run scorer predictions in IPL 2021

Consistency of runs from the top order is going to be one of the main challenges for the Royals in this IPL. Their big 3 players in that regard are Buttler, Stokes and new captain Sanju Sampson. All 3 blew a little hot and cold last year and Buttler’s poor run of form ultimately saw him pushed down the order. I’d imagine he’ll be given another chance in that role which is why he is the favourite to lead the scoring charts at odds of 2.5 but there is possibly better value to be had on the other 2

Sanju Samson

There is no doubting Samson’s talent and it’s not too late for him to push for a place in India’s World Cup squad if he has a strong IPL 2021. It will also be interesting to see how the captaincy impacts him. Will it bring the kind of focus for him to add consistency to his game or will it shackle his natural ability and scoring,? However at odds of 3.5 he is probably worth a small stake to be RR’s top run scorer in IPL 2021

Ben Stokes

There seems to be a clamour for Stokes to be moved up the order at both club and international level and on the occasions that he has been given that opportunity over the past 6 months he has shown why. His odds of 4.0 to be RR’s top run scorer are more generous simply because he hasn’t ever had a consistent run of games in the top 3 but that appears likely to change in 2021 and as such he represents good value for money.

Ben Stokes will move up the order in a bid to score more runs
Stokes’ chance of being RR’s top run scorer are enhanced by his likely promotion up the order source
Sunrisers Hyderabad top run scorer predictions in IPL 2021

David Warner

Predicting a top run scorer for SRH in IPL 2021 is a tricky one. David Warner seems the logical choice and his brilliant record in this tournament over the years does mean that his odds of 2.62 are good value. At the same time, SRH have some other very talented top order batsmen to chose from. The big question in regards Kane Williamson and Jonny Bairstow is will they play every game or might SRH rotate the pair alongside some of their overseas all-rounder options? If that is the case then then Warner’s odds look even better but we may need to wait and see how they choose to line-up in their first couple of games before we know more.

IPL 2021 top four teams playoff predictions

In such a highly competitive league as IPL 2021, predicting the four teams that will finish in the top half of the table and earn a playoff place is a difficult task. At the same time, SkyBet is offering boosted odds to do just that and therefore it is well worth making those predictions based on detailed analysis of the 8 teams involved.

For the previous 3 seasons, 14 points or the equivalent of 7 wins from the 14 round robin games has been enough to finish in the top four and secure a place in the playoffs so in essence what we are trying to predict is which team can win half or more of their games in IPL 2021.

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Odds on a top four finish and playoff place in IPL 2021 @2.10

As indicated in our previous article predicting the outright winner of IPL 2021, SRH represent a good shout as dark horses for the title itself and therefore I think their odds of better than evens to make the playoffs represent excellent value for money.

The Sunrisers have finished in the top four for the past 4 IPL seasons with their consistency largely thanks to the settled and balanced squad that they have assembled during that period. Last year saw them overcome injuries to several key players to still make it into the playoffs and with those players now returning to form and fitness there is no reason to believe they cannot at the very least match last season’s achievement if not better it.

Form wise SRH could well hit the ground running with Buvi and Jonny Bairstow both looking in good knick during the India vs England white ball games that have proceeded this year’s IPL. They’ll be joined a couple of the world’s top T20 players in David Warner and Rashid Khan as well as whole host of cricketers who have experience of playing and winning in the IPL. Backing SRH to finish in the top four at odds of 2.1 seems a safe prediction at a very good price.

Chennai Super Kings

Odds on a top four finish and playoff place in IPL 2021 @2.20

It’s been a while since you’ve been able to back CSK at longer than even odds to finish in the top 4 and make it to the playoffs but following a poor IPL season last year and the perception that a few of their star players are now a little bit long in the tooth the markets at least have turned against them.

Still, CSK ended just 1 win off a playoff place last year and finished the season with 3 back to back victories suggesting that they are far from done as a squad just yet. Indeed, those games at the end gave CSK a chance to showcase some of the young talent that is coming through that may be able to have an impact on this year’s tournament. It’s also worth noting that their coaching and back room set-up is as good as any other franchise meaning that a poor season is more likely to be a blip rather than an overall trend towards becoming weak side.

Another interesting fact from last year is that out of the 6 matches they did win, 3 of them came against the sides who ulitmately finished in the top 4 with CSK running Delhi Capitals very close in the other fixture. It suggests that while this team may not have been at their peak last season they still have the winning mentality and street smarts to know how to close out victories in the IPL and at odds of 2.20 they shouldn’t be underestimated to make a quick return to the upper half of the table in 2021.

Mumbai Indians

Odds on a top four finish and playoff place in IPL 2021 @2.10

The favourites to win IPL 2021 and make it 3 in a row and 4 out of the last 5 years as champions are the Mumbai Indians. Understandably their odds on making the playoffs are much shorter than the two sides that we’ve already considered but for good reason.

If as we’ve discussed above, a side needs a minimum 50% win rate to qualify for the playoffs then this Mumbai Indians side which is largely unchanged over the last couple of years, is delivering a 69% win rate which in a tournament as competitive as the IPL is a phenomenal stat.

Mumbai Indians celebrate during the IPL 2017 playoffs source

While there is no guarantee that previous form impacts future predictions, I feel that the relatively quick turn around between the 2020 IPL which was delayed by 6 months and this year’s competition which starts less that half a year later, means that momentum from last season is far more likely to be carried forward into this year. It would be a major shock if Mumbai Indians didn’t make into the top 4 in IPL 2021 and as such I’m predicting they will do so at reasonable odds of 1.29.

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Odds on a top four finish and playoff place in IPL 2021 @1.80

Once again I’m going to say that RCB are poor value to be a success in IPL 2021. I would personally rate their chance of a top 4 finish at about 50/50 and as such my tip here is to lay against them on an exchange at a price of 2.2. Betfair is offering this market so you can jump in early to lay against them making the playoffs and get a very good price.

In general, RCB are one of the best supported and most overhyped franchises in T20 cricket with a collection of the world’s biggest stars but without the foundations to back up consistent success. It’s that lack of consistency which would concern me about backing them at shorter than even odds.

Delhi Capitals

Odds on a top four finish and playoff place in IPL 2021 @1.57

The Capitals have been a steadily improving side over the past few years and in the round robin stage of the tournament they have won only one less game than the Mumbai Indians have over the last couple of seasons.

Again that is the sort of consistency that you should be looking for when placing a bet and with Delhi having largely kept the same side together that reached last season’s final there is no reason to suspect that they won’t at the very least make the playoffs again this year and you can back them to do so at decent odds of 1.57

The others

Kolkata Knight Riders – You can bet on KKR to reach the playoffs at odds of 2.20 which I would say is about right but doesn’t offer particularly great value. While they only missed out on a top four finish last season on net run rate, there are a few too many question marks over some of their star players coming into the tournament to be particularly confident as to how they will perform.

Rajasthan Royals – I can only assume that Ben Stokes’ heroics in the 2nd ODI v India have contributed to some money moving towards the Royals and pushing their odds shorter. However, the injury to Jofra Archer and a few too many gaps in their squad don’t justify their price of 2.10 to make the playoffs this year.

Punjab Kings – The big outsiders for a top four finish, PBKS haven’t managed to reach the playoffs for the past 6 seasons and there seems to be very little confidence in them breaking that run during IPL2021. At the same time, we are talking about a league where anyone can beat anyone and if the odds drift much longer than 2.75 then they might be worth taking a look at to sneak a top 4 finish.

IPL 2021 Top wicket taker purple cap predictions

Having previewed the candidates for leading run scorer we now offer predictions on the bowlers who have a chance of being the top wicker in IPL 2021. Once again the battle for the purple cap will involve many of the world’s top T20 bowlers and so picking one or several from this crowded field that offer good value takes time and careful analysis.

Again, our predictions for top wicket taker in IPL 2021 will factor in the neutral venues that the tournament will be played at this year as this is likely to have a significant impact on the success of certain bowlers who favour the conditions they’ve been drawn to play in.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Odds to be top wicket taker in IPL 2021 @12.0

Buvi is back and at odds this generous he is our number 1 tip to be the top wicket taker in IPL 2021. The last couple of years have seen SRH’s lead seamer beset by injuries but following his return to fitness he has demonstrated his worth as a T20 bowler with some stunning displays for India over the last few weeks.

Buvi is a proven IPL wicket taker throughout matches

Of course it wouldn’t be the first time that Bhuvneshwar Kumar has won the purple cap in the IPL as he achieved the feat in both 2016 and 2017. Buvi’s brilliance is built off the back of his ability to pick up wickets both in the powerplay where he can nip the new ball off the seam and move it through the air and at the death where his accuracy and subtle variations make him a dangerous operator.

He will be the spearhead of what looks likely to be a very complete bowling line-up for SRH this year and as stated in my predictions for the outright winner, I believe that the Sunrisers are dark horses to win the IPL in 2021. As such, odds of 12.0 for Buvi to be the league’s top wicket taker are far too good to turn down

Kagiso Rabada

Odds to be top wicket taker in IPL 2021 @6.0

The South African fast bowler has been at the heart of Delhi Capitals revival over the past couple of seasons finishing as the leading wicket taker in last year’s IPL and coming second only to Imran Tahir the year before that. To date, Rabada has been most effective at the death with nearly two thirds of his wickets coming in the final 5 overs of IPL matches.

Rabada’s wicket taking ability at the death delivered him the purple cap last season

His potency as a wicket taker is enhanced by the strong supporting cast that he has at DC that includes a South African connection with Anrich Nortje as well as Delhi’s twin spin attack in the form of Test match heroes Ravi Ashwin and Axar Patel.

This season Rabada’s chances of defending his purple cap will be increased by the fact that he will play the majority of his games on helpful wickets for seamers including the Wankhede Stadium, Eden Gardens and the stadium at Ahmedabad which we’ve already seen from the T20i matches recently completed there can assist bowlers with genuine pace. At odds of 6.0 he is the favourite to be leading wicket taker once again but given his recent record in the IPL that price is fully justified and he warrants having money riding on him.

Jasprit Bumrah

Odds to be top wicket taker in IPL 2021 @6.0

Much like with Rabada this is not a bold prediction for top wicket taker during IPL 2021 but it’s difficult to ignore Bumrah and his consistency. He has developed into arguably the best multi-format fast bowler in world cricket but it was in T20 that he first made his name with his slingy action being difficult for batsmen to pick up and his uncanny ability to hit his yorkers.

When Bumrah gets the yorker right he is unplayable

Bumrah has never claimed the purple cap in the IPL, however, he has been in the mix for it in each of the last 5 years finishing at the very least as one of the top 10 wicket takers in that given season. Last year he delivered a personal best of 27 wickets in an IPL season only to see Rabada trump him by claiming 30 scalps. I would expect the pair to once again push each other to new heights this time around as they both chase personal and team honours.

When predicting the top wicket taker in an IPL season it is also worth taking into consideration which players are likely to make it through to the playoffs with their respective teams and it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the last 2 winners of the purple cap have come from sides who have played those extra 2 or 3 games at the end of the season. As such odds of @6.0 for Bumrah to be the top wicket taker is a sound tip

Rahul Chahar

Odds to be top wicket taker in IPL 2021 @25.0

The young wrist spinner has established himself as first choice at Mumbai Indians over the last couple of years and is now pushing to do the same with the Indian national side. He’s been an effective wicket taking option during his sides back to back title wins and the way the fixtures have fallen this year may see him take on even greater importance with ball in hand.

Interestingly Chahar has only ever taken 1 wicket in the IPL while playing at the Mumbai Indian’s home ground of the Wankhede Stadium but with all his matches this year being played at neutral venues, the young leggie will the get the opportunity to bowl on some slower turning pitches that could well see him pick up additional wickets.

Chahar will benefit from playing early matches on helpful surface during IPL 2021

Let’s not forget that the last time the IPL took place on Indian soil back in 2019, the top wicket taker and purple cap went to Imran Tahir, a wrist spinner who played the bulk of his games in Chennai which by happy coincidence is where Mumbai start their campaign with 5 back to back matches. Chahar has already shown during his previous visits to MA Chidambaram stadium that he is a tricky customer in these conditions and his odds of 20.0 to be the leading wicket taker in IPL 2021 could fall very sharply if he comes away from that venue with a clutch of wickets.

Lungi Ngidi

Odds to be top wicket taker in IPL 2021 @20.0

Ngidi’s chances of being the top wicket taker in IPL 2021 are done no end of good by the fact that CSK won’t be playing at home this season. Incredibly, Ngidi has never played a game for CSK at the MA Chidambaram ground despite being at the franchise for 3 years. Where CSK have deployed the young South African is on their travels, at grounds where they believe his hit the deck style will be more effective.

With CSK now forced to play there games on pitches that will favour Ngidi then his chances of simply playing will shoot up dramatically and with it you’d expect his odds to be leading wicket taker to tumble as well. He is certainly a long shot for the purple cap this year but as with Chahar it could well be a case that those odds shorten after the first few rounds of the IPL allowing those who backed him early to take some profit.

Ngidi blasts through Sri Lanka’s top order

Despite having had limited opportunity in the IPL his strike rate in the competition when he does play is incredible taking a wicket once every 12.6 deliveries. This wicket taking ability isn’t just restricted to the IPL, Ngidi has an even better strike rate in international T20 cricket, claiming a victim every 11.4 balls he bowls for South Africa. At long odds of @20.0 backing a player who has a happy knack of picking up wickets seems like a very good bet.

Virat Kohli record as an opener in T20 cricket

The debate over whether Virat Kohli should open the batting in T20 cricket will rage on. Here we consider his record and stats as an opener inc. his average, strike rate, record in the powerplay and the influence that Kohli opening the batting has on his team as a whole.

Let’s begin with the top line stats for Kohli as an opener in T20 cricket – this includes T20i and IPL matches that Kohli has played in.

Total innings268
Innings as an opener71
Career average33.72
Average as an opener 46.24
Virat Kohli record opening the batting in T20 cricket

From the outset we can see that Virat Kohli’s record as an opener in T20 cricket is impressive and his average is certainly a lot higher than that when he bats in any other position. The vast majority of the games that he has played as an opener have come in the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore while for India he has played the role only 8 times and until he opened for his team vs England on 20th March 2021, he hadn’t opened the batting for his country for almost 3 years going back to a T20 game vs Ireland in 2018 when he was dismissed for just 9.

Those who argue that Kohli should open the batting in T20 cricket will point to his ability to score big when leading from the front.

Career 100s / 50s5 / 67
Opening 100s / 50s5 / 18
Kohli’s record of 50s and 100s opening the batting in T20 cricket

As you can see, all 5 of Kohli’s T20 centuries have come when he opens the batting. He passess the 50 run mark once every 3.09 innings as an opener compared to once every 3.86 innings when he doesn’t open. These stats are probably not that surprising given that in any limited overs format, batsmen coming in higher up the order will have a greater opportunity to build an innings and make a big score.

Strike rate is all important in T20 cricket and particularly so during the powerplay. Below is Kohli’s record as an opener in that regard.

Career Strike Rate133.54
Strike Rate Opening the batting139.76
Career Powerplay Strike Rate*115.06
Powerplay Strike Rate when Opening*124.44
*IPL Stats only

Time at the crease undoubtedly contributes to Kohli’s ability to score faster during the later stages of a T20 innings and therefore in that regard allowing him to open the batting makes sense. Still his strike rate, particularly in the powerplay, as an opening batsman is not spectacular.

To put that into context let’s look at the powerplay strike rates of other established opening batsmen in T20 cricket. As Kohli hasn’t played many games as an opening batsman in T20i cricket for us to make a fair comparison , we’ll only be considering his powerplay run rate opening the batting in the IPL v the other 10 most prolific opening batsmen who are still playing in the tournament.

BatsmanStrike Rate in the Powerplay as an opener
JC Buttler162.19
DA Warner139.87
KL Rahul135.42
CH Gayle135.24
Q de Kock131.30
F du Plessis130.98
RV Uthappa128.74
RG Sharma125.13
S Dhawan125.12
AM Rahane118.76
Records of the 10 most prolific opening batsmen still playing in IPL 2021

Of the 10 other players playing in IPL 2021 who have scored the most runs opening the batting, all of them have a better strike rate than Kohli during the powerplay with the exception of Ajinke Rahane, a player who has pretty much been deemed surplus to requirement at the highest levels of T20 cricket and is unlikely to be opening the batting for Delhi this year.

A higher strike rate by opening batsmen in the powerplay is usually driven by hitting boundaries while the field is up. Kohli’s record as an opener in T20 cricket (IPL only) in this regard is shown below

Balls per 4 hit in the powerplay6.84
Balls per 6 hit in the powerplay 29.48
Balls per boundary (4 or 6) in the powerplay5.55
Kohli balls per boundary during the powerplay while opening the batting in T20 cricket

Kohli the opener in T20 cricket hits a boundary about once every over that he faces in the powerplay. Again, let’s see how that compares with his peers in the IPL

Batsman Balls per boundary (4 or 6) in the powerplay
JC Buttler3.52
CH Gayle4.32
DA Warner4.48
KL Rahul4.80
F du Plessis4.90
Q de Kock4.96
RG Sharma5.05
S Dhawan5.17
RV Uthappa5.23
AM Rahane5.52

As we can see from the above table, every single one of the 10 other most prolific opening batsmen still playing in the IPL scores a boundary (4 or 6) more often than Kohli does during the powerplay.

Does this make Kohli a bad option to open the batting in T20? Not at all. However what it does mean is that he needs to be paired with an opening batsmen who starts their innings faster and is better able to utilise the field being up during the powerplay. Let’s look at who Kohli has opened with in the past and how that has impacted his performance and RCB’s performance in the IPL.

Below we look at the batsmen that Kohli has opened with in IPL T20 cricket and how that has impacted his record and the RCB’s record.

Opening PartnerInningsKohli AveKohli S/RWin %
CH Gayle2854.76148.3957.7%
PA Patel1434.92138.8450.0%
KL Rahul563.75134.9260.0%
Q de Kock2110.0142.860%
Mandeep Singh224.00145.450%
J Arunkummar212.0082.760%
All others*843.43125.1014.3%
Kohli’s record as an opener in T20 cricket by opening partner. *There are 8 players that Kohli has opened the batting with on one occasion

Gayle and Kohli’s opening partnership stands out and if you look back at the record books for the years that they played most together (2015 & 2016) you can see just how effective Kohli was as an opening batsmen when paired with a bigger hitting and faster scoring partner. The trend continues when Kohli opens with KL Rahul and Quinton de Kock whom we’ve seen in the stats above both start their innings as openers at a faster pace than he does.

The most recent period that Kohli played as a regular opener in T20 cricket was the 2019 IPL where he primarily partnered Partiv Patel and as we can see from the stats above was far less successful. Patel had significant experience as an opener in T20 cricket but his Strike Rate in the powerplay when opening was just 121.54, pretty pedestrian compared to some of the others we’ve considered. The impact on Kohli’s record that season is clear as no doubt the scoreboard pressure built on the RCB captain, forcing him to play in a manner that he is unaccustomed too.

It’s perhaps also evident from the above that Kohli and RCB as a whole benefit from a settled opening partnership in T20 cricket. His record with anyone that he opens the batting with 5 times or more has helped deliver a good win % in what is a very competitive league. Of the more experimental opening partnerships throughout the years, Kohli and RCB’s record in T20 is played 14, won 1, lost 12, 1 no result which I think we can all agree is pretty awful!

Going forward then, for Kohli, RCB and India to be successful with their captain opening the batting in T20 cricket, they will require him to form a settled partnership with a player who has more of a power game in the first 6 overs, allowing Kohli to play 2nd fiddle and anchor the innings through the middle period before exploding at the death.

In the 5th T20i against England when we saw Kohli and Rohit Sharma open the batting, I think we saw a perfect example of what is required with Rohit playing the role of the aggressor and Kohli ticking along at just over a run a ball. Kohli was further helped by the fact that Suryakumar Yadav came in at 3 and took over from Rohit meaning that Kohli could keep accumulating and laying a platform for later in the innings. This is surely the blue print that India will look to build on for the T20 World Cup if they are determined for Kohli to open during the tournament.

As for the IPL, RCB may find that they don’t have an opener with the record or experience that Rohit Sharma possesses in this form of the game. Devddut Padikkal is the man who will likely open with Kohli this season and while the youngster made an impressive start to his T20 career with 473 runs opening the batting in IPL 2020, his strike rate and overall power game does not seem compatible with that of Kohli’s to suggest that RCB or the player himself will benefit from this partnership.

Padikkal’s record as an opener in IPL cricket has him with a strike rate in the powerplay of 121.43, lower than Kohli’s and lower than most of the established batsmen we’ve considered before. In fact it’s unnervingly similar to that of Partiv Patel’s and for Kohli and RCB that was not a partnership that bore fruit.

IPL 2021 Leading Run Scorer Predictions and Betting Tips

One of the most popular outright markets to bet on in any IPL season is the leading run scorer. Here we preview the odds and offer predictions on who will be the top tournament batsmen in IPL 2021.

As with every year, the contest to don the Orange Cap as the IPL’s top run scorer for the season will be a fierce one with some of the biggest names in the history of T20 cricket going toe to toe over the course of the 14 match IPL season and the playoffs that follow.

When making predictions on who is going to be the leading run scorer in the IPL, it’s always worth considering that in limited overs cricket, the players coming in at the top of the order will get the most time in the middle and therefore are likely to be the ones with the greatest chance of making the consistent big scores that are necessary to be ranked as the highest run scorer come the end of an IPL season.

As such our tips for the IPL top tournament batsmen will generally focus on those players who will are likely to spend most of their time batting in the top 3 spots for their chosen franchise.

Equally, the decision to play all the IPL 2021 fixtures at neutral venues throws an extra dimension into any predictions for how successful a batsmen is going to be this season. Our stats by IPL venue gives us a great advantage when considering how certain conditions are likely to impact the race for top tournament run scorer this year and we’ll be factoring it into all of our tips below.

Virat Kohli

Odds to be IPL leading run scorer 9.0

We’ll start with our top tip for the this year’s leading batsmen in the IPL and to be honest it’s not a very surprising prediction! Virat Kohli is arguably the greatest white ball cricketer to have played the game and he is the leading all time run scorer in the IPL.

While it’s been a little while since Kohli finished an IPL season as the top batsmen, his announcement that he will be opening the batting for RCB this year should be a clear indication that he plans to bat long and bat big in the 2021 tournament.

While the debate about whether Kohli should open the batting in T20 cricket will rage on for the duration of the IPL and probably the World Cup to follow, it’s worth taking a moment to consider then man’s record in that regard. Here are a few of the top line stats for Kohli as an opener in T20 cricket and you can also read our full analysis here

Average opening the batting in T20s46.24
100s / 50s opening the batting in T20s5 / 18
Innings per half-century opening the batting in T20s3.09
Kohli’s chances of being the leading run scorer in IPL 2021 are enhanced by his decision to open the batting

As you can see, Kohli’s record at the top of the order is mighty impressive and therefore having some money riding on him to be the leading run scorer at odds of 9.0 seems a no brainer.

KL Rahul

Odds to be IPL leading run scorer 8.0

Last seasons leading run scorer in the IPL is once again favourite for the Orange Cap in 2021. Despite playing just 14 matches as his KXIP failed to make the playoffs, KL Rahul still managed to finish 52 runs clear of his nearest rivals who all played 2 or 3 games more.

While, KL Rahul is coming off a shocking T20 series with India where his form eventually led to him being dropped there is hope still hope he can recapture last season’s heroics after a decent cameo in the 1st ODI that followed and the fact that he averages over 80 batting at the Wankhede Stadium where PBKS will play their first 3 games.

KL Rahul stats in Mumbai
KL Rahul could get off to a fast start at the Wankhede as he looks to defend his Orange Cap

If money starts to flow away from KL Rahul and towards a few others on this list (as I think it might) then we may yet see his odds of 8.0 to be the top tournament batsmen begin to drift and that could be the time to strike.

David Warner

Odds to be IPL leading run scorer: 9.0

The Sunriser’s captain is a machine when it comes to run scoring in the IPL and a solid prediction as top tournament batsmen for any year. Last year, Warner didn’t quite manage to emulate the consistency that he showed in IPL 2019 when he won the Orange Cap by passing 50 on 9 out of the 12 occasions he batted but he wasn’t far off the pace in 2020.

Still this is a batsmen who has been the leading run scorer in the IPL on 3 separate occasions and since 2014 has never finished outside the top 5 highest run scorers for any IPL season that he has played in.

David Warner record at Dehli and Chennai
Warner will have to overcome slower pitches at the start of the tournament to be this year’s leading run scorer

The one niggling doubt about Warner for this year is the way the fixtures have fallen for him and how that might impact his run getting in IPL 2021. SRH start off their campaign with 9 games played on the slower tracks of Chennai and Delhi, pitches on which Warner’s record is not quite as good. Despite this, Warner has sufficient experience and class to overcome such obstacles and a bet at odds of 9.0 on him betting the top tournament batsmen is still good value for money.

Shikhar Dhawan

Odds to be IPL leading run scorer: 13.0

Another opener and another player with a record in the IPL to suggest that he will be there or thereabouts as leading runs scorer during the 2021 tournament. Shikhar Dhawan made 2 of the 5 centuries to be scored in last season’s IPL and he’s very likely to be the man tasked with batting through the innings once again as Delhi Capitals look to go one better than their final appearance in 2020.

Excellent against pace and with a superb record against spin, Dhawan is the complete T20 batsmen and it looks as though he’ll come into the 2021 version of the IPL off the back of some good form following his match winning innings vs England in the 1st ODI of the series. You can back him as top tournament batsmen at generous odds of 13.0

Steve Smith

Odds to be IPL leading run scorer: 19.0

Moving now to consider some real outsider predictions for top run scorer in IPL 2021 although perhaps a player with Smith’s pedigree should never be entirely written off. The Australian master batsmen has something of a point to prove having been shown the door at previous franchise Rajasthan Royals.

There is no doubt that T20 cricket is Smith’s weakest form but as a once in generation talent, I wouldn’t bet against him working it out. I probably would have avoided adding Smith to this list of tips for top batsmen had it not have been for the injury sustained by DC captain Shreyas Iyer which looks certain to limit his action in the IPL this year.

While there were a few eyebrows raised at Smith’s acquisition by Delhi during the auction given that they have a very strong top order already, the gap left by Iyer who was probably due to bat at number 3 suddenly presents the perfect opportunity for Smith to rebuild his reputation in the IPL. Working with former Aussie captain Ricky Ponting, I expect Smith to get the full backing of his new side and at long odds of 19.0 to be the top tournament batsmen there is value to be had on a small stake.

Kane Williamson

Odds to be IPL leading run scorer: 21.0

One of my favourite players to watch in any form of cricket and a man who optimises everything that is good about the sport is Kiwi captain Kane Williamson. Williamson finished as the IPL’s top batsmen in the 2017 season, topping the 700 run mark a feat that hasn’t been bettered by anyone since.

Beyond his obvious class and run scoring ability, Williamson’s chances of finishing this IPL season as the leading run scorer are enhanced by the fact that his record at several of the venues SRH will play their games at this year is superb!

Kane William IPL record at Bangalore and Delhi
Williamson has enjoyed previous visits to Bangalore and Delhi

Why then are Williamson’s odds of 21.0 to be top tournament batsmen so long? Well the one concern would be whether he is an automatic pick for SRH who have plenty of overseas talent to choose from at the top of their order and will need to make some tough decisions about how to balance their team. However, if Williamson gets the nod early in the tournament and scores runs then he’s going to be very difficult to leave out and those long odds will look like a real bargin!

Devdutt Padikkal

Odds to be IPL leading run scorer: 21.0

The youngest and least experienced player on this list of predictions for IPL leading run scorer in 2021. However, Padikkal can already boast the fact that he outscored Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in last year’s IPL (his maiden tournament) and he comes into this year’s version off the back of some very impressive form in 20 and 50 over cricket.

Second season syndrome is of course a concern for any young player and you can bet that opposition bowlers will know more about this young superstar in the making than they did 6 months ago. Still, Padikkal has shown throughout his fledgling career that he has the talent and temperament to overcome any obstacle and at odds of 21.0 to be the top tournament batsmen he represents good value for money as an outside bet.

Suryakumar Yadav

Odds to be IPL leading run scorer 26.0

Here is a batsmen brimming with form and confidence ahead of IPL 2021 and at the price being offered, he represents a really good tip to be top run scorer for the tournament ahead. Suryakumar Yadav may be new to international cricket but he is certainly not new to the IPL where he has been a consistent run scorer for the most successful franchise in history for some time.

After bursting onto the international stage this month with a couple of fantastic knocks vs England he’ll be looking to cement his place in India’s white ball plans for the foreseeable future by scoring big runs in IPL 2021. He’s finished each of the last 3 seasons with a min 400 runs and on one occasion has breached the 500 mark. He’ll need to push above the 600 mark to have a realistic chance of being the leading run scorer and you can back him to do just that at odds of 26.0

Prithvi Shaw

Odds to be IPL leading run scorer 26.0

Our final prediction for leading run scorer in the 2021 IPL is another exciting young Indian batsmen in the form of Prithvi Shaw. The 21-year-old right-hander is something of a cricketing prodigy and has already won caps for his national team despite his tender age. While he was dropped during the winter tour of Australia, his response has been to smash bowling attacks up and down the country for century after century on his way to a record breaking domestic season.

Prithvi Shaw and Devdutt Padikkal records in Vijay Hazare Trophy
Both Prithvi Shaw and Devdutt Padikkal broke records in the domestic season and will hope to carry that form into IPL 2021 as they chase top run scorer once again.

With India having so many talented young batsmen to choose from, Shaw knows he must carry on that run scoring form on the big stage provided by the IPL to have a chance of re-entering the fold. Since his school days in Mumbai, many in India have tipped Shaw to be Sachin Tendulkar’s heir apparent and 2021 could be the year that he finally delivers on that promise. Odds of 26.0 to be the top tournament batsmen are good value for a player in red hot form!

Of course the above players only represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to predictions for the leading run scorer in IPL 2021. There are literally dozens of big name players that we haven’t considered in this article including the likes of Rohit Sharma, Quinton de Kock and Jos Buttler who are all seeing money being placed on them early on.

With such a competitive field, I’d say that it’s well worth hedging your bets with stakes across several of the main candidates for top run scorer this season. Whoever you pick, good luck and enjoy the cricket!

IPL 2021 Outright Winner Tips and Predictions

Having previewed every team in IPL 2021, this article provides betting tips and predictions on the odds for the outright winner of this year’s tournament. It won’t come as any surprise that Mumbai Indians are once again the favourites to make it 3 IPL titles in a row but that doesn’t mean there isn’t great value on the odds for some of the other sides to win IPL 2021.

This article provides a condensed preview of each team’s strengths and weaknesses and how that influences the value of their odds in the outright winner markets. However you can find a link to the indepth analysis to each team for greater insight on the tips and predictions we’re making for IPL 2021.

Get a free bet on the Mumbai Indians vs RCB game when you place a bet on the outright winner market with 10CRIC (see instructions below)

To claim your free bet on 10CRIC

  1. Log into your 10CRIC account from 2-8 April
  2. Bet min. ₹500 on the IPL Outright Winner market
  3. Once the promo ends, on 9 April, you will get a pop-up to claim your ₹250 Free Bet for the opening game!
  4. New customers can also the deposit bonus shown above

Mumbai Indians IPL 2021 Outright Winner Tips and Predictions

Odds to win the IPL: 4.35

  • settled and balanced squad
  • winning mentality
  • perfect blend of experience and youth
  • depth on the bench
  • complacency

Read the full team preview and detailed analysis for Mumbai Indians

Tips and predictions: As you can see I’m scratching around for weaknesses when it comes to this Mumbai Indians squad and their chances of being the outright winners of IPL 2021. They’ve maintained the core of the squad that has delivered them success 2 years running and made a couple of smart additions in the auction. While I’ve stated that complacency could be an issue, as it might be for any sports team in their position, I think with the T20 World Cup coming up and players like Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar all fighting for a spot in the Indian side, then there is no real reason to suspect Mumbai are about to take their foot of the peddle for this edition of the IPL.

They may be the clear favourites but odds of 4.35 still represent excellent value for Mumbai Indians to be the outright winners of IPL 2021 and I will certainly be betting on them at that price.

Delhi Capitals IPL 2021 Outright Winner Tips and Predictions

Odds to win the IPL: 6.0

  • Strong top order
  • Fast bowling options
  • Talented home grown players
  • Hunger to win
  • Wrist spin options
  • Not the best auction
  • Lack of winning experience

Read the full team preview and detailed analysis for Delhi Capitals

Tips and Predictions: Delhi Capitals came mighty close to finally securing their first IPL title in last season’s competition before somewhat choking in the final. If anything, the biggest hurdle between them and going one step further this year is the very fact that they don’t having that experience of winning the IPL. They have maintained the squad that got them to last year’s final but I wonder if they might have missed a trick by not bringing in some better middle order options as opposed to Steve Smith who adds to what is already a very impressive top order.

There fast bowling stocks are very strong and with Axar Patel and Ravi Ashwin brimming with confidence and wickets following the series against England they have a good bowling attack too. Last season they were without a first choice wrist spinner and again the failure to remedy that in the auction might come back to haunt them.

Delhi Capitals to be outright winners in IPL 2021 at odds of 6.0 is still a very competitive price and I would certainly back them to make the playoffs again this year by which time that price will have fallen dramatically.

Royal Challengers Bangalore IPL 2021 Outright Winner Tips and Predictions

Odds to win the IPL: 6.0

  • Top Order batting
  • Home grown bowling
  • Lack of IPL experience
  • All-round options
  • Lack of winning experience

Read the full team preview and detailed analysis for RCB

Tips and predictions: RCB’s great strength is the same one that they’ve had for many previous IPL seasons in the form of their top order batting. Last year Kohli and deVilliers were joined by youngster Paddikal in providing the runs for RCB to win games. However, their recruitment during the auction was a little bit erratic and it remains to be seen as to whether they’ve brought in the players, particularly in the middle order and all-rounder positions, to fill the gaps that existed last season.

My honest opinion of RCB’s odds of winning IPL 2021 would be that at 6.0 they are overpriced especially when you consider their squad next to Delhi Capitals or SRH. Let’s not forget that for all the star players that this franchise has had over the years, they’ve never won the IPL and that is going to be a very difficult monkey to shake of their collective backs.

Sunrisers Hyderabad IPL 2021 Outright Winner Tips and Predictions

Odds to win the IPL: 6.5

  • Settled & experienced squad
  • Remarkable consistency
  • The return of Buvi
  • Middle order and finishers
  • Impact of venues on Warner

Read the full team preview and detailed analysis for SRH

Tips and predictions: SRH have the most settled squad going into IPL 2021 and why would they want to make changes? This is a team that has reached the playoffs in each of the last 5 years, going onto win the tournament once in that time. No other franchise can match them as far as consistency is concerned. While they weren’t busy bringing in new players they will have several key members of their squad returning from injury to bolster an already strong side. None however, will be more important than the return to form and fitness of the leader of their attack Bhuvneshwar Kumar who is demonstrating with India what a fine cricketer he still is. There are a few question marks over their middle order and finisher roles but SRH certainly have options in those departments.

At odds of 6.5 to be outright winners of IPL 2021, I think SRH are seriously undervalued. They don’t perhaps have the glamour or the history that a few of the other franchises have but their consistency is a bettor’s dream and I would tip anyone to have a small amount ridding on the to win the IPL this year.

Kolkata Knight Riders IPL 2021 Outright Winner Tips and Predictions

Odds to win the IPL: 7.0

  • Plenty of potential match winners
  • Spin options
  • Big hitters at the death
  • Fading stars
  • Top order

Read the full team preview and in-depth analysis for KKR

Tips and predictions: Injury and loss of form of their star players plus a change of captaincy half way through last year’s IPL didn’t help KKR’s cause and yet they only missed out on the playoffs by the tiniest margin. It would be fair to say that if the likes of Russell, Cummins, Karthik and Narine improve their returns this year, then KKR will be a force to be reckoned with once more. I believe they’ve made some good acquisitions during the auction which will at the very least mitigate against the impact that those injuries and loss of form had in 2020. There are some question marks over their top 3 and the balance of the batting line-up in general but they look in much better shape coming into the start of IPL 2021 than the way they finished last season.

At odds of 7.0 to be outright winners of IPL 2021, I feel that KKR are genuine dark horses with the experience and talent to beat anyone on their day. As attention and money focuses on the 4 teams already mentioned there is a chance we’ll see their odds drift further out and at 7.5 or even 8.0 they definitely represent good value for a small investment to win IPL 2021.

Chennai Super Kings IPL 2021 Outright Winner Tips and Predictions

Odds to win the IPL: 8.0

  • Great experience
  • Bowling options
  • Youth beginning to come through
  • Ageing squad
  • Not able to utilise ideal conditions

Read the full team preview and in-depth analysis for CSK

Tips and Predictions: CSK had a very disappointing season last year but did show enough in the closing stages to suggest that they can be more effective in IPL 2021. Experience abounds in a squad that has tasted success on numerous occasions before and there are signs that new young players are beginning to add to the side that CSK has assembled. As is usually the case, CSK will enter games with a wide variety of all-rounder and bowling options but there are still question marks over how this team will perform away from their home venue in Chennai where conditions are ideal for their style of cricket.

We’ve seen it before with sides like Mumbai Indians where a period of dominance is followed by a fallow year and there is still too much quality and experience in the CSK squad to write them off entirely as outright winners of IPL 2021. Odds of 8.0 to win the IPL are probably about fair in what will be another very competitive season. If they can grab a spot in the playoffs then that is when that big game experience could really come to the fore and as such they are definitely a team to watch for signs of form early on.

Rajasthan Royals IPL 2021 Outright Winner Tips and Predictions

Odds to win the IPL: 9.0

  • Match winners in the top order
  • Death bowling
  • Exciting young talent
  • Injury to Archer
  • Lack of experience

Read the full team preview and detailed analysis for RR

Tips and predictions: We are getting down to the rank outsiders now but then again being rank outsiders is very much in the DNA of the Rajasthan Royals franchise and that hasn’t stopped them in the past. The big blow for the Royals is the loss of last season’s MVP Jofra Archer. Had he have been available then RR’s bowling options would have looked impressive and there is enough experience at the top of the order to score the necessary runs. Perhaps the biggest concern for RR in IPL 2021 is consistency. They have plenty of talented and young players who will undoubtedly light up the tournament at some point but not necessarily on a week by week basis.

Had Archer have been available for IPL 2021 then I think a bet on Rajasthan Royals to be outright winners at odds of 9.0 would have been decent value. Without him, it’s difficult to see how they will have the penetration up front to put teams on the back foot.

Punjab Kings IPL 2021 Outright Winner Tips and Predictions

Odds to win the IPL: 10.0

  • Had a good auction
  • Top order runs
  • No genuine all-rounders
  • Unbalanced team
  • Lack of winning mentality

Read the full team preview and detailed analysis of PBKS

Tips and predictions: It’s been 6 straight seasons since Punjab Kings or as they were formerly know Kings XI Punjab have reached the playoffs so it’s no great surprise to see them having such long odds. They actually had a decent auction, bringing in some fast bowling options which should improve their wicket taking ability in the powerplay (a major issue last season). That being said their lack of all-round options could well leave them picking an unbalanced side which will once again be reliant on the likes of KL Rahul to do the bulk of the run scoring up front.

PBKS are valued at odds of 10.0 to be outright winners of IPL 2021 for a reason. If they had 1 or 2 quality all-rounders, I think PBKS could begin to think about challenging for a play off place but in reality they will probably need to wait until next year’s mega auction so that they can start afresh.

Get a free bet on the Mumbai Indians vs RCB game when you place a bet on the outright winner market with 10CRIC (see instructions below)

To claim your free bet on 10CRIC

  1. Log into your 10CRIC account from 2-8 April
  2. Bet min. ₹500 on the IPL Outright Winner market
  3. Once the promo ends, on 9 April, you will get a pop-up to claim your ₹250 Free Bet for the opening game!
  4. New customers can also the deposit bonus shown above

SRH Team Preview IPL 2021

Our final team preview for the 2021 IPL season is that of Sunrisers Hyderabad. SRH have the most settled team coming into this year’s competition although with a few key players returning from injury, it might well feel like they have made some new signings to add to what is an impressive and very consistent squad in the IPL.

SRH Team Preview IPL 2021 – Batting

The top of the order has been a strong suit for SRH for several IPL seasons and there is now reason to suspect it won’t be again in 2021.

David Warner will lead the team on the field and from the front when it comes to run scoring. The Australian sits third on the list of all time run scorers and is breathing heavily down Suresh Raina’s neck for second spot. The fact that he has played significantly fewer games than anyone in the top 5 and has scored his runs at a faster rate means that he can put up a pretty good argument for being the greatest IPL batsmen of all time.

Leading run scorers in the IPL
Leading run scorers of all time in the IPL

Perhaps the single biggest concern for SRH batting wise in IPL 2021 is the way the fixtures and venues have fallen for them. We’ll look at that more generally later in the article but so important is Warner to this side that it worth paying special attention to his record now.

SRH are due to play their opening 9 fixtures on the traditionally slower pitches of Chennai and Delhi where Warner’s imperious record does drop off quite significantly. It would be fair to say that plenty of top-order batsmen’s records at these venues show similar traits but with Warner having been head and shoulders above all other SRH batsmen these past couple of seasons it does mean that others will need to pick up the slack.

David Warner record at Dehli and Chennai
Warner’s record at the 2 venues that SRH start their IPL 2021 campaign

Of course, the Sunrisers are blessed with plenty of options in that regard with Kane Williamson, Jonny Bairstow, Wriddhiman Saha and Manish Pandey on their books. Bairstow and Warner have been one of the most exciting and consistent opening partnerships in the IPL over the last couple of years but how much game time they get together this season will be largely dependent on how SRH choose to balance their side. With Rashid Khan an almost certain starter, if SRH opt for Warner, Bairstow and Williamson then that’s their quota of overseas talent gone and they’ll be forced to leave all-rounders such as Mitch March and Jason Holder on the bench.

We saw at the back end of last season that in a bid to get Jason Holder in the side and cover the injury to Vijay Shankar, SRH were forced to drop Bairstow and replace him with Saha who in fairness had a very good finish to the season with 2 fifties from the 4 innings he played. With Bairstow having struggled in the recent Test series vs spin and the 9 opening games looking very likely to be contests dominated by slow bowlers then might SRH think about doing something similar at the start of IPL 2021?

Thereafter SRH have an exciting group of talented young batsmen to choose from. Priyam Garg highlighted his potential with a 26 ball half-century against CSK last season and he has been in good form during the 50 over domestic competition that recently finished. Meanwhile Abdul Samad who is younger still than Garg, showed his ability as a ball striker by finishing last season with a strike rate of 170+. They are joined by the left-handed Abishek Sharma who has been in the squad for the past few seasons but is still only 20-years-old. Again, Sharma comes into this IPL season off the back of centuries in both 20 over & 50 over domestic cricket and he offers a useful option with his slow left-armers.

At the other end of the experience scale, SRH have picked up Kedar Jadhav after his departure from CSK. He certainly offers a solid option for the Sunrisers in that middle order and if nothing else, having a guy with over 80 caps for his country in white ball cricket can only help the aforementioned youngsters with their development. Depending on how SRH choose to balance their side, it seems likely that these 4 players will be competing for a couple of spots in the final XI.

As noted above, SRH then have to choose which player(s) will perform the role of all-rounder for them this season. Last season, it looked like it might be Mitch Marsh before he broke down with another injury during the opening match. Vijay Shankar then started to hit some form before he too ended up on the treatment table and Jason Holder was given his chance late on and impressed. Let’s not also forget the evergreen Mohammed Nabi who good also prove a solid option with his off-spin.

Mitch Marsh record vs spin bowling in the IPL
Mitch Marsh record vs spin in the IPL

If SRH do opt to select one of either Bairstow and Williamson then which of the 3 overseas all-rounders should they play in their place? My concern about Marsh would be his fitness. He was unable to bowl at the start of BBL and when later he did begin to contribute some overs, he again suffered an injury. I’m not sure whether he is fit enough to bowl again and even if he is, will SRH take the risk? The other problem with Marsh is that sides will undoubtedly target him with slow bowlers particularly early in his innings and all IPL sides have at least a couple of high quality performers to challenge the Australian’s technique.

Perhaps SRH should stick with Jason Holder, a player who until recently wasn’t really viewed as having the game to be a success in T20 cricket particularly in comparison to a few of his West Indian peers. However, Holder was brilliant for SRH in the games that he played at the back end of last season, picking up 14 wickets in just 7 appearances and contributing some handy runs late on. He followed that up with further impressive displays during a short stint for the eventual BBL champions Sydney Sixers.

SRH Team Preview IPL 2021 – Bowling

In addition to their excellent batting stocks, SRH have bountiful options with the ball and they will be happy to welcome back the leader of their attack, Bhuvneshwar Kumar following his return from injury and heroics in the deciding match against England.

Buvi's IPL record in the powerplay
Buvi’s record in the powerplay is brilliant and SRH missed his ability to lead from the front in that regard during IPL 2020

In fact, SRH have an incredible 5 domestic seamers to choose from whom have all been capped at international level with Buvi joined by Siddarth Kaul, Sandeep Sharma, Khaleel Ahmed and Thangarasu Natarajan. It was Sharma and Natarajan who were first choice picks last year and you’d imagine that their left-arm option + Buvi’s right-arm swingers and potentially the hit the deck style of bowling that Holder offers would mean that SRH have very good variety in the seam department not to mention a bench that is second to none.

Of course the star man is undoubtedly Rashid Khan and he once again led the team’s bowling charts with 20 wickets last season. Beyond that he was also the most economical bowler in IPL 2020 and he bowled the most dot balls of any spinner in the same period. In general, sides seem to have taken the decision that it is better to simply survive and take risks against SRH’s other bowlers than to allow Rashid the chance to get amongst them. However, with the return of Buvi and the ability to deploy stronger 5th and 6th bowling options this season that tactic might not seem so appealing. Rashid has generally claimed a wicket once every 20 balls during his IPL career, if teams begin to take chances against him expect that to drop to closer to 15.

Rashid Khan is joined by a third Afghan colleague in the form of Mujeeb Ur Rahman. While Mujeeb is undoubtedly a talented white ball cricketer it’s difficult to see how he’ll get much game time in a side that has established and settled overseas options and therefore his signing is a bit of a head scratcher, perhaps SRH just wanted to keep him away from another franchise that would be able to better utilise him?

The more likely spinners to get a chance are the 2 home grown left-arm options that SRH have available to them. Shahbaz Nadeem took a bit of a mauling against England in the first Test of the series but that performance (particularly for England fans) seems like a long time ago. Meanwhile SRH also moved to secure the services of Jagadeesha Suchith who has been around the IPL with various franchises for the past 6 seasons without being given an extended run in the team. Still his experience at domestic level means he is a fairly safe pair of hands if the brain trust in Hyderabad opts to go with another front line spinner.

SRH Team Preview IPL 2021 – Venues and Fixtures

As mentioned before, SRH have a difficult initial 9 games on the slower tracks of Delhi and Chennai, conditions that might not suit all of their batsmen. That being said, while the Arun Jaitely Stadium was never an especially happy hunting ground for David Warner at least in his early career, it has been a venue where others have flourished

SRH Team record at Delhi
SRH batting record at Delhi

My feeling is that SRH have the accumulators in their side to post competitive scores on these pitches and of course they have a bowling attack capable of defending them.

The Sunrisers then move onto play 3 games at Eden Gardens where Buvi and seam bowlers in general have had great success. SRH’s strong bench could well be a factor in them being able to deploy some bowlers who up until this point would have had limited opportunities to play.

Buvi stats at Eden Garden
Buvi enjoys bowling at Eden Gardens

They finish their season with 2 games in Bangalore and Sandeep Sharma will be especially disappointed that he doesn’t have the opportunity to dismiss his bunny Virat Kohli whose wicket accounts for a large portion of his success at this venue

Sandeep Sharma stats at Bangalore
Sandeep Sharma’s record at Bangalore

RCB Team Preview IPL 2021

For RCB the long wait for a first IPL title continues. Here we preview whether the 2021 season will finally see them shake off the tag of perennial underachievers in the Indian Premier League.

RCB, as always seems to be the case, were one of the busier teams in the 2021 IPL auction so this will be one of the more speculative previews I’ve written as there are a few players with very little in the way of IPL records if not T20 records in general within their squad.

RCB Team Preview IPL 2021 – Batting

The familiar big names of Virat Kohli and AB deVilliers will once again be responsible for the bulk of the run scoring during RCB’s 2021 IPL campaign. The pair, alongside youngster Devdutt Padikkal all managed to break the 450 run mark in last season’s competition which is the gold standard for any top order batsmen.

RCB's top order runs in IPL 2020
Consistency at the top of the order was the primary reason for RCB’s success last season

However, the drop off to the rest was very evident and that problem alongside the question of who bats where in the top order are the main issues for RCB to address if IPL 2021 is to be a success.

We’ll start by considering what the RCB top order might look like in IPL 2021. Last season saw Australian duo Aaron Finch and Josh Phillipe partnering Padikkal as openers but neither particularly impressed and neither will be playing in this season’s IPL. RCB have brought in Kiwi youngster Finn Allen who has a very good record in domestic T20 cricket in his home country but very little experience or form elsewhere. My major concern about judging Allen on his career to date is the well known fact that New Zealand grounds as a whole see the highest scoring T20 matches in world cricket largely as a result of short boundaries and the general quality of the wickets.

As a result of this, I fear that RCB and their larger than life captain are about to go down a route that has not worked in the past with Kohli promoting himself to open. A full analysis of why Kohli shouldn’t open for RCB will probably be a blog in its own right but the bottom line is that he is not a powerplay hitter and RCB probably don’t want him to try and play like one. That is not so much a problem if you have a couple of other guys in the top 3 who are willing to play that role as for example we saw during the 5th T20 match between India and England where Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav’s agressive play allowed Kohli to bat at his natural tempo. While the Indian national team may have the talent to compensate for Kohli’s lower strike rate in the powerplay, I don’t believe that RCB can say the same.

Kohli's Strike Rate as an opener in the IPL
Kohli’s powerplay strike rate would be a concern if he were to open the batting

Padikkal is more of a stroke maker than a hitter and if he and Kohli were to open together it would put more pressure on the youngster to play against his natural instincts in order to compensate. Equally, it would inevitably put more responsibility on those to come if these 2 are unable to break par in the powerplay. Of those to come, RCB don’t really have an established number 3 in their ranks if Kohli opts to move up to open. As we’ve seen with previous experiments, AB is at his best batting number 4 and you’d have thought Maxwell would be most effective as a number 5.

All-in-all it seems strange to me that RCB are looking to break up a top 4 that apart from that one opener slot, functioned very well last season. Their primary aim at the auction should have been to find another opener to compliment Padikkul and allow them to field a top order of Kohli 3, AB 4 and Maxwell 5. There were plenty of options in the form of Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Martin Guptill, Evan Lewis, etc. etc. but RCB opted to spend a huge amount of money strengthening their all round options instead.

There are a couple of younger players for RCB to consider here namely Rajat Patidar who has had a good domestic season or they could even think about deploying the talented Washington Sundar up the order. Such a move wouldn’t rob RCB of options lower down the order given the number of all-rounders and late order finishers like Glenn Maxwell that RCB have on the books.

Maxwell himself has done very well to earn such a high salary given his poor returns over the last couple of years in IPL. There is no doubt that he is a match winner on his day but it’s been a long time since anyone has seen one of those days at least while playing in the biggest T20 franchise tournament in the world. RCB need him to rediscover his form to fill the void in the middle order that has been apparent for far too long.

Daniel Sams will be hoping that the bowlers in the IPL are as generous with their full tosses as they were in the BBL

Moving down the order, RCB are blessed with any number of all round options although again how effective some of these players will be in subcontinental conditions remains to be seen. Daniel Sams has joined after leaving Delhi Capitals where he received only limited playing time and while his left-arm seamers and power hitting have proved successful in the BBL he’s still an unknown quantity in this league.

Then of course comes the very big (in more ways than one) signing of Kyle Jamieson. The New Zealand all-rounder has made a fast start to his Test career but there are serious questions that need to be raised about the amount of money RCB have paid for a man who has very limited T20 experience and in the games that he has played in that format has looked a little out of his depth.

Kyle Jamieson bowled 12 overs and went for 141 runs without claiming a wicket in the recent T20 series vs Australia

A polar opposite, at least in the experience stakes, is the acquisition of Dan Christian who at the ripe old age of 37 (he’ll be 38 by the time the tournament finishes) continues to win T20 titles at pretty much any franchise he plays for. One can only assume that RCB are hoping that Christian will bring that Midas touch with him so that Bangalore can finally break their tournament duck. However, Christian’s problems vs slow bowling, particularly at the start of his innings are well documented and so again he is not a signing that really makes that much sense in the grand scheme of things.

RCB Team Preview IPL 2021 – Bowling

Bowling wise RCB do have some good home grown options in the way of pace bowlers Siraj and Saini as well as wrist spinner Chahal. This is a particularly important factor when considering their reliance on overseas stars higher up the order. Siraj is likely to be used most in the powerplay overs, Chahal during the middle overs and Saini at the death. Kohli will then have the luxury of rotating his other bowlers around these 3 bankers.

RCB powerplay bowling
RCB will hope that Daniel Sams can add to their penetration with the ball during the powerplay

For the sake of variety, you would imagine that Daniel Sams as a left-armer is likely to see more game time than he achieved at Delhi last year. He is certainly an improving player at this level but I have my concerns about him bowling at the death and with the loss of Chris Morris, RCB might find themselves struggling to contain the scoring rate when it comes to those crazy final few overs at the end of an innings.

In the finger spinning department RCB have Washington Sundar who is also a useful option in the powerplay overs as well as left-armer Shahbaz Ahmed who debuted in last season’s IPL and has performed well with both bat and ball during the domestic season in India.

Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa provide some international alternatives but with RCB likely to use up their quota of overseas spots filling their top 6 then I’d imagine that both will be spending the majority of the tournament carrying the drinks as was the case last year. RCB also welcome back the perennial 12th man in Harshal Patel whose 9 seasons in the IPL to date have seen him play just 48 games.

RCB Team Preview IPL 2021 – Venues and Fixtures

Perhaps one of the most alarming stats about the squad that RCB have put together is their collective lack of experience at many of the venues they will play at during IPL 2021. Even at fairly established venues such as Chennai it’s only Kohli and deVilliers amongst the batsmen that have any kind of record to fall back on with the rest of the side having collectively faced just 42 balls between on a track that has challenged most over the years. Similarly on the bowling front, RCB have just 4 bowlers who have played in Chennai before in the IPL. Given that RCB face tough opponents in the form of Mumbai Indians and SRH in their first 2 matches that lack of experience could come back to bite them.

Moving on, RCB will certainly be looking forward to getting off the slow low wicket at Chennai and onto a pitch in Mumbai that has seen their star batsmen dominate. Both Kohli and AB must be wishing that RCB had more than just the 2 games at this venue in IPL 2021.

RCB batting at Wankhede
Kohli and AB have good records at the Wankhede

4 games in Ahmedabad follow and here RCB do at least have the advantage that a few of their number have been involved in the T20 series that was recently played at the new stadium giving them valuable experience of the changable conditions on offer.

RCB’s final 5 games then take place at Eden Gardens which is generally a venue that seam bowlers enjoy. While RCB’s mainstays in Siraj and Saini have made little impact on their previous vists here this could be the kind of wicket where big money signing Kyle Jamieson is at his most effective.

Rajasthan Royals Team Preview IPL 2021

IPL 2020 was a year to forget for the Rajasthan Royals as they finished bottom of the table. Here we preview how their actions during the 2021 close season, including breaking the record for the most expense player at auction and the sacking of a 2nd captain in as many years might influence their chances this year.

Rajasthan Royals Team Preview IPL 2021 – Batting

The biggest criticism of Rajasthan’s batting line-up over the last few seasons is that they’ve been very top heavy. It’s no suprise that in the T20 game the vast majority of batsmen want to bat in the top 3 where the powerplay and opportunities to face more deliveries make run scoring that much easier. However, that needs to be offset by a middle and lower order than can accelerate at the back end of an innings too. It’s difficult to remember the last team to win the IPL who didn’t have that balance.

With the departure of the likes of Steve Smith, Rahul Tripathi and Ajinke Rahane over the last couple of seasons you could actually now argue that Rajasthan have gone in the opposite direction and their top-order options for IPL 2021 are limited.

Last season saw a reasonable amount of chopping and changing as the Royals sort the right combinations but it seems likely that this year we’ll see a top 3 of Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and newly named captain Sanju Samson. On paper, that is a strong top order but once again in terms of experience and quality it does feel like Rajasthan are throwing all their eggs into that top order basket once again.

Samson’s talent is unquestionable but as captain RR will hope he can add consistency to his game

They do have some talented young options on the bench including Yashasvi Jaiswal who has been involved with the national team in U-19 and U-23 fixtures and who played a handful of games in last seasons tournament. Still at the tender age of 19, it’d be a massive step up for Jaiswal to be given the responsibility of opening on a regular basis in this season’s IPL.

Alternatively, they could look to give Manan Vohra a shot at the top of the order. The Chandigarh captain is coming off the back of a decent white ball season and has plenty of IPL experience from his time at RCB and KXIP despite being unable to break into the Royals side which he has been a part of for a couple of years. With the aforementioned players now out of the way this looks like his best opportunity for game time.

The other less likely option would be to give Liam Livingstone a go at the top of the order. While Livingstone is a destructive opener in T20 cricket, playing him alongside Buttler and Stokes would see RR having used 3 out of their 4 overseas slots before we even reach the middle order. A similar problem in that regard comes with David Miller who was once one of the most feared T20 batsmen in world cricket but who over the last couple of years has increasingly struggled to assert himself on a regular basis. Both these men look like back-up options for the Royals first choice overseas picks.

The middle order then will likely be stacked with youngsters and all-rounders. Chief amongst these will be 19-year-old Riyan Parag who despite his tender years has already been heavily involved in the last couple of seasons of IPL cricket. Certainly a player to watch in the future, Parag has already taken over the captaincy of Assam in T20 cricket and the responsibility seems to have suited him well as he hit 261 runs in the Syed Musthaq Ali Trophy at an average of 87, the best of any batsmen to have played 5 or more innings in the competition.

21-year-old local lad Mahipal Lomror is another option and again despite his relative youth he is hardly unknown at this level having made his IPL debut back in 2018. From bit part player to established performer in the space of 6 months feels like a big step but Rajasthan Royals do have form over the years for unearthing diamonds from the rough and they’ll be reliant on that happening again in this year’s tournament.

Dube has proved he has the attributes to be a key player for Rajasthan in IPL 2021

Lower down, the acquisition of Shivam Dube fills the role of finisher that was sorely missing from each of the last couple of campaigns particularly now that Buttler has moved up the order. Dube continues to put up impressive numbers in domestic T20 cricket and perhaps the lower profile move to Rajasthan following a couple of disappointing years at RCB will do him good. The fact that he has been capped 14 times by India in white ball cricket over the last couple of years shows that there is definitely talent to work with and he might well get some opportunities higher up the order with his new franchise.

Rajasthan Royals Team Preview IPL 2021 – Bowling

We’ve already covered a few bowling options when speaking about Stokes, Pirag, Dube and Lomror but you’d imagine that all 4 will be primarily playing as batsmen. Still, it leaves Sanju Samson will a smorgasbord board of potential bowlers to choose from.

The big blow and a story that is breaking as I type this article is the likely loss of Jofra Archer who has been asked by the ECB to return home to receive treatment on an elbow injury that has troubled him over the past 12months. Archer was the MVP in last year’s IPL and losing him will be a massive blow to Rajasthan’s hopes of a playoff place in IPL 2021.

Jofra Archer IPL record in the powerplay
The best that teams generally manage to do vs Archer in the powerplay is to see him off!

Archer was unstoppable in IPL 2020 and showed again in the recent T20 series against India that he is a genuine threat particularly in the powerplay. Rajasthan’s problem in IPL 2020 was that they didn’t have the bowlers to follow up on Archer’s new ball bowling. With the acquisition of Chris Morris and Mustafizur Rahman plus the return to form and fitness of Andrew Tye that issue seemed to have been solved so the news that Archer will not be available for the first part of IPL 2021 leaves them once again lopsided albeit in the other direction.

Rajasthan Royals death overs bowling options IPL 2021
Rajasthan have some good options at the death

With penetration now a problem for RR at least in the early stages of IPL 2021, the responsibility could once again fall on some very young shoulders in the form of Kartik Tyagi and Chetan Sakariya. Tyagi debuted last year and has since gone onto play for India U-19s on their tour of Australia. There is undoubtedly talent and pace to work with there but Tyagi is still very raw. Meanwhile left-armer Chetan Sakariya took 12 wickets in this season’s Syed Musthaq Ali competition, including 5/11. He finished the tournament with the best economy rate, 4.90, of any seamer (min 10 overs) and the best average 8.16 (min 7 wickets) and is certainly another youngster to watch for RR in IPL 2021.

With the left-arm Jaydev Unadkat also available, the Royals looked like they were set to have a fast bowling attack that could rival the very best in the IPL with variation and choices abound. Experienced pros like Unadkat, Morris and Tye will need to step-up to fill the void left until Archer hopefully returns. Can RR still be in the hunt when their star man becomes available?

In the spin department, Rajasthan Royals are certainly not short of wrist spinners with Rahul Tewatia who is also likely to bat at number 7 and Shreyas Gopal joined by Mayank Markande who burst onto the scence a couple of years ago with Mumbai Indians to the extent that he was handed a cap by his nationals team. A loss of form and the emergence of Rahul Chahar limited his time at MI and he’ll hope to reignite his career wearing the pink of Rajasthan.

However, there is a noticable lack of finger spinning options for Rajasthan with only the slow left-armers of Lomror at Samson’s disposal. As we’ll see now with the way RR’s fixtures have fallen that gap may not be felt quite as significantly as it might have been but it still represents something of an oversight on the recruitment front.

Rajasthan Royals Team Preview IPL 2021 – Venues and Fixtures

The loss of Archer is even more pronounced when you consider that Rajasthan Royals begin their 2021 IPL campaign with 5 matches on a Wankhede pitch that would almost certainly have favoured his pace and bounce. The fact that Archer has combined figures of 5/55 from the 2 games he’s played there in the past suggests he would have been a real handful! Still Andrew Tye and Ben Stokes records at a venue that tends to suit overseas quicks are also impressive and wrist spinners also tend to favour bouncier tracks

RR bowling record at the Wankhede

Rajasthan then move onto play 4 games at the Arun Jaitley stadium in Delhi. My concern here would be that lack of experience in the middle order on a wicket that will probably be slower and at times required careful accumulation may come back to bite them.

3 matches at Eden Garden, Kolkata then follow and you’d have thought with the fast bowling options that Rajasthan have, they could be a difficult side to beat on this pitch as evidenced by their respective records below.

RR bowling stats at Eden Gardens

The final 2 matches take place in Bangalore and it’s surprising to see that some of the bigger hitting batsmen including Stokes and Buttler have fairly average records at this grounds. Again, it could be that lack of experience and quality that costs them here. As we’ve seen in previous team previews, late order hitters of often enjoy themselves at altitude so the likes of Dube and Tewatia will need to take the lead in that respect in matching opposition players like Nicolas Pooran and Andre Russell.

Player stats by venue can be found here

Punjab Kings Team Preview IPL 2021

Here we preview the team formerly known as Kings XI Punjab who have undergone a relatively radical overhaul during the IPL off-season not least of all by changing their name. Will such a ploy have the same impact that it did for Delhi who appear to be far more successful under the brand Capitals than they were Daredevils?

Beyond the rebranding, Punjab Kings were also pretty busy in the auction, trying to fill some of the more obvious gaps in a squad that that has failed to make the play-offs for 6 straight seasons. Could this be the year that they turn it around?

Punjab Kings Team Preview IPL 2021 – Batting

Generally speaking this was the stronger suit for Punjab Kings in IPL 2020 with their top 3 in particular all having pretty decent campaigns lead by captain and Orange Cap winner KL Rahul who finished the season with 670 runs.

Even so, there were calls from some quarters and on social media for KL Rahul to up the ante a little bit more often in his innings with the opener sometimes failing to maintain his strike rate once the field dropped back. While there is some truth in that criticism, for me, KL Rahul is not a power hitter so any criticism aimed at him being selfish or deliberately batting for his average are misguided, his role is in general is to bat through the innings and allow others to play the aggressive role around him. He did his part but others simply couldn’t follow.

KL Rahul led the way in IPL 2020
Despite the extra games during the play-offs the chasing pack still couldn’t get near KL Rahul’s haul of 670 runs

Of course, the big concern for Punjab will be Rahul’s terrible run of form in the T20 series against England leading up to this IPL. He looks woefully short of form and now confidence and the pressure is definitely on him again to deliver for his IPL franchise in order to maintain his spot in the T20 World Cup squad.

Opening up with KL Rahul is another player looking to reestablish himself in the good books of the national selectors in Mayank Agarwal. It’s taken a while for 30-year-old to really find a game in T20 cricket but his efforts last season were impressive and like KL Rahul he too scored a centruy in IPL 2020 meaning that Kings XI were the only franchise to boast 2 players to reach the 100 mark in last year’s tournament. The concern again though is his form coming into the competition. He had a difficult time of it in Australia in both red and white ball cricket and hasn’t played any T20 since last year’s IPL.

Backing these home grown talents up is man who needs very little introduction. The Universe Boss is now the rip old age of 41 but on his day he is still a very dangerous hitter as evidenced by his 3 fifties from 7 innings in last year’s tournament. It’ll be interesting to see how and when Punjab Kings opt to use Gayle in this year’s tournament and as we’ll examine later it might well come down to playing conditions and a need to balance the team with other overseas options.

Top-order wise, Punjab Kings also brought in the number 1 ranked batsman in T20i cricket in Dawid Malan although it was telling that they faced zero competition for his signature at the auction and his low returns in the current T20 series at Ahmedabad confirm the suspicions of many that Malan is not well suited to these conditions.

However, a slightly better signing may have been made in the form of Moises Henriques who is not only a player who can perform multiple roles with the bat but also offers the franchise leadership and a winning mentality with his Sydney Sixers team having won back to back BBL tournaments. With some explosive young options still to come in the middle/lower order and a couple of young Aussies on their books, Henriques might play a useful role both in games as the glue in the middle order and off the pitch as a mentor for the likes of Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith.

Nicholas Pooran hit the fastest fifty of IPL 2020

Speaking of those explosive young players, there aren’t many more dangerous hitters in the modern game than Nicolas Pooran. The 25-year-old is an incredible talent and on occassion has show his ability to change games single handedly. If you were going to be super critical, it would be that he hasn’t done that quite as consistantly as KXIP would have liked to date but if he can turn his 2 half centuries from last season into 4 and push above the 400 run mark then he would be firmly in the Pantheon of middle order batsmen at this level. The other burning question then is where do you play him? West Indies have experimented with Pooran as high as number 3 and there is always the simple concept in T20 cricket that you want your best players to face as many deliveries as possible. Of course, WI have the luxury of some other big hitters to come in at the back of the innings which is an area that Punjab Kings might feel exposed if they opted to bump Pooran up the order.

The Kings then have some exciting young local talent who to date haven’t quite managed to establish themselves at this level. Deepak Hooda for example at the age of 25 will be enjoying his 7th season in the IPL but he averages just 16 with the bat. There were signs that he might finely be able to find the kind of form that made him an U-19 sensation at the end of last season when he hit 62 off 30 balls against CSK. He is joined by the likes of Mandeep Singh who 5 years ago was part of India’s T20 squad but again has failed to really kick on and Sarfraz Khan who at the age of 23 has seen plenty of IPL action but failed to really nail down a spot in any side.

Getting at least one of these players who have all shown promise at youth level to mature into batsmen that several franchises have hoped they would become could well be the difference between success and failure for Punjab Kings who will otherwise be short on genuine quality in the middle/lower order.

First look at Shahrukh Khan batting

Then we come to Shahrukh Khan. No not the famous Bollywood actor but a T20 finisher fresh from Tamil Nadu’s successful season in the Syed Musthaq Ali trophy. At 25 and with just 23 T20 innings to his name, it’s very easy to question why Punjab Kings paid the equivalent of about $750k USD for his services. At 6ft 4in Khan comes with the reputation of a man who can muscle a cricket ball a fair distance in the closing stages of a game. However, as we’ve seen with players like Shivam Dube in the past, the step up from T20 domestic cricket to IPL is a difficult one particularly when you’ve got a big price tag hanging around your neck.

Punjab Kings Team Preview IPL 2021 – Bowling

“Balance” and “options” are terms I’ve used with franchises who have had recent success in the IPL and who are likely to be challenging at the top of the table again this year. Unfortunately for Punjab Kings neither of these words can be used to descibe their squad for 2021 IPL.

They possess no real all-round options, with West Indies Fabien Allen hardly having the experience or record at this level to suggest he’s the man to bring about that balance. So desperate are Punjab Kings for someone to fill that role that they’ve even named Moises Henriques as an all-rounder, although I really can’t remember the last time I’ve seen him bowl. It’d be a huge risk to go into the IPL with the likes of Henriques, Hooda and Argawal making up a 5th bowler with the other option being Punjab Kings batting players like Jyhe Richardson and Chris Jordan as high as number 7. Both are dangerous players are the back end of an innings and if they were sat at 8 and 9 behind a genuine all-rounder at 7 then I’d have more confidence in this team, but sadly they are not.

Lack of powerplay wickets a concern for Punjab
Powerplay wickets were a real concern prior to the signings of Richardson and Meredith

Now that we’ve got the negativity about their chances in IPL 2021 out of the way, lets look at the positives that they achieved during the auction. Powerplay wickets and fast bowling options in general were a major issue for KXIP last season so the acquistion of Jyhe Richardson who in my mind has been the best bowler in the BBL for the last 2 season as well as Riley Meredith whose raw pace certainly adds an x-factor does suggest they have the firepower to win more games in 2021.

The 2 Aussies join Mohammed Shami who should be fit for the IPL, as well as young left-armer Arshdeep Singh and death over specialist Chris Jordan. Who they pick and how they manage the 4 overseas spots will be interesting to see but in regards depth of bowling options, things have certainly improved in the last 6 months.

Punjab Kings do certainly have some very good wrist spinning rescources available to them with Murugan Ashwin and 20-year-old Ravi Bisnoi in their ranks. The pair took 22 wickets between them in IPL 2020 and have both been in the wickets again during the recently cocluded domestic white ball season. As we’ll see below, both front line spinners might feel they’ve been given something of a bum draw in regards the venues they’re going to play at.

Punjab Kings Team Preview IPL 2021 – Venues

Punjab Kings will be shunted around a bit in the early stages of the tournament with 3 games in Mumbai and then 2 more in Chennai before they settle into 4 games at the new Ahmedabad venue and the final 5 in Bangalore.

The fact that they play last seasons 2 bottom sides in the form of Rajasthan Royals and CSK in their opening fixtures must give the Kings hope of being able to make a fast start in what is likely to be a very competitive tournament.

Playing at the Wankhede will give their new quick bowlers more favourable conditions to settle in. Meanwhile, KL Rahul will hope that a wicket that has seen him hit a truck load of runs in the past might be the perfect tonic to his poor form of late.

PK batting stats at Wankhede

Unfortunately for Punjab Kings their next destination in Chennai is not a wicket that they’ve had much success on and without the proven big hitters in the middle to late order it might again prove a challenging track for them to make a score on. Bowling wise, while they have the spinning options to make an impact, neither Ashwin or Bisnoi have much experience here and indeed the top wicket taker at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium from within their current squad is Chris Gayle with 3 victims from his younger years as an occasional off-spinner.

It’s then onto a another venue where aggression has proved to be the best option. KL Rahul can’t be looking forward to another run of matches in Ahmedabad while in bowling terms the wicket has favoured those who bowl into the pitch and take pace off the ball which is not the modus operandi of any of the current Punjab squad.

PK batting stats at Bangalore

Punjab Kings finish off with 5 matches in Bangalore, a pitch that Chris Gayle certainly knows well and has found memories of from his time with RCB. Run scoring and boundary hitting is generally easier at this ground but do PK have the firepower to out hit some of their opponents? From what we’ve considered previously it seems unlikely.