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 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.

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 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 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 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 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’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.

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 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 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.

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.

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 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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Mumbai Indians Team Preview IPL 2021

Will this Mumbai Indians team be able to defend their IPL crown in 2021? Here we preview what has been the strongest squad in the IPL for some time as they chase an historic 3rd title in a row.

There used to be a pattern of Mumbai Indians having a good season followed by a poor season but that theory was shattered last year when MI defended their title with ease and with just a few tweaks to that talented squad during the auction, there’s no reason to believe that they won’t be there or thereabouts again in 2021.

MI Team Preview IPL 2021 – Batting

All the best teams in any format of cricket have a certain aura about them that is created off the back of their success. As you look down the batting line-up for Mumbai Indians you get that feeling and it is difficult to really find any weak spots.

At the top of the order come 2 of the classiest white ball cricketers of all time in Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock. It’d be fair to say that on an individual basis, Rohit hasn’t been at his best these last couple of years averaging below 30 and failing to make the 450 run mark in both title winning campaigns. We all know that the Hitman has a reputation for going big in white ball cricket but with just 5 fifties from the start of IPL 2019 it’s not quite happened for him.

Don’t get me wrong, he is still a brilliant player and if nothing else what he does and has done for a long period of time is win cricket matches either off his own bat or via his captaincy, a trait you can’t put a price on that. Still, he’s in need of a big season this year as Indian look to finalise their plans for the World T20 that takes place later in the year and with the national team not exactly short on talent and options even a player of Rohit’s stature isn’t a certainty.

De Kock meanwhile seems to have found his home in Mumbai after a couple of seasons in the IPL wilderness. Being given the opportunity to open the batting on a game by game basis has done his performances the world of good and while MI have some impressive top order options on the bench in the form of Chris Lynn and Saurabh Tiwary it’d take a serious drop off in form or fitness for them to replace the settled pairing of Rohit and de Kock.

Incredible consistency from Mumbai’s top order last year was the basis of their success

In fact, “settled” is very much the best word to describe the remainder of the MI batting line-up for IPL 2021. Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav were rewarded for their stellar IPL 2020 seasons with call-ups to the India T20 side. Both made an immediate impact with a typically explosive half-centuries and again coming into a a home World Cup you’d imagine that Kishan and Yadav will be keen to impress in order to stake a claim for some of the hotly contested top order position in India’s T20 side.

If that wasn’t enough for you, MI then have several high quality all-rounders waiting in the engine room. Again the aura and reputation that a few of these guys carry with them as they stroll out to the middle is enough to strike fear into opposition bowlers before they’ve even taken guard. Kieron Pollard, the most experienced player in the history of the T20 format is still going strong and he is very much one of Rohit’s trusted lieutenants on the field.

The most experienced T20 cricketer of all time and still setting the bar high!

Pollard’s record in the IPL is incredible. He sits sixth on the all-time six hitting list behind a group of top order batsmen many of whom have faced over twice the number of deliveries he has. In essence he hits a six once about every 10 balls and boundary (4 or 6) about once every 5 balls. And yet, there is reason to argue that he isn’t the most destructive player in the side! While Pollard has the long-term records and Ishan Kishan struck the most 6s in IPL 2020 it is surely Hardik Pandya who is the biggest threat at the back end of an innings.

Hardik Pandya may have struck 5 fewer maximums than Ishan Kishan last season but the 25 sixes he did get came from just 157 deliveries nearly 200 balls fewer than his top order colleague. With the consistency of run scoring in the top 4 coupled with the destructive power in the middle to lower order it’s not difficult to see why this Mumbai team have been so dominant.

Then comes “the other Pandya” somewhat more understated than his younger brother but still a highly effective all round cricketer and someone who will be key to MI’s title push again especially on the slower surfaces they’ve been drawn to play on (see below). Being a left-hander, the Indians often deploy him up or down the order as the game situation suits and it’s that flexibility and selflessness that makes him such a key component of this batting unit. He may not possess the power game or flair of the players mentioned before but he can certainly do a job for MI when needed.

The only addition to the potential batting stocks during the 2021 auction was Kiwi James Neesham who will presumably be back up for Pollard or Hardik Pandya or if they choose to Mumbai could play him as another all-rounder at the expense of one the overseas quicks (see below). At the very least he is a safe pair of hands with a proven track record at international level and while his game time has been limited in an IPL career stretching 7 years, MI know exactly what they are getting which is a very good squad player.

MI Team Preview IPL 2021 – Bowling

As we’ve already discussed one of the big strengths of Mumbai as a bowling unit is their all round options and those options look even better this year with the return from injury of Hardik Pandya who has proved his fitness as part of a 5 man bowling attack in India’s T20 series against England. With his brother offering some left-arm darts (I hesitate to use the word spin) from the other end and even Kieron Pollard rolling back the years to do a bit of bowling last year then Mumbai already have a fair chunk of the overs covered before we’ve even hit the specialist bowlers.

Of those bowlers and like much of the Mumbai Indian’s team it’s the combinations that work so well for the defending champions. In Jasprit Bumrah, Mumbai posses arguably the best quick bowler across all forms of cricket in the world but it was in T20 that he really made a name for himself with his unusual action and uncanny ability to hit his yorkers.

As a foil to Bumrah’s right arm pace are Trent Boult’s left arm swingers. I’m a massive fan of T20 sides having a genuine swing bowling option to take wickets in the powerplay. Let the guys who can bowl their variations and half dozen different slower balls have their fun in the middle overs, if you can move the ball in the early stages of any game of cricket then you’ve more than a good chance of picking up wickets and that is exactly what Trent Boult is capable of delivering. However, beyond that, Boult has also developed into an excellent death over asset for Mumbai as indicated by the stats below.

Trent Boult’s record in different phases of the game show his worth to the team

In support of Bumrah and Boult, Mumbai generally look to play a 3rd seamer although as we’ll see later conditions may tempt them to go for the extra spinner early on. Last season it was Coulter-Nile or Pattinson this year it will be either the former or Adam Milne the Kiwi quick. Milne who has genuine pace had a pretty good time of it for Sydney Thunder in this year’s BBL and seems to have gotten over some of the injury problems that have hampered his recent career. Fitness wise Coulter-Nile was unavailable for large parts of the same tournament and it would be a blow to Mumbai to lose him both for his versatility as a bowler and his hitting power at number 8.

That being said, the champions aren’t short of options. They also have the experienced Dhawal Kulkarni, young left-armer Marco Jansen from South African who is something of an unknown quantity and a another left-arm seamer going by the name Tendulkar. The signing of Arjun Tendulkar son of India legend Sachin raised a few eyebrows and calls of nepotism from certain quarters given that the 21-year-old has only played a couple of T20 games at List A level. He is, however, a member of India’s U-19 squad which in itself is an achievement given the amount of raw talent the country has to work with. Time will tell if he can forge a career in the long shadow cast by his famous cricketing father.

The spin options for Mumbai are also looking good and with the neutral venues that they have to play on the acquisition of Piyush Chawla may yet prove to be a masterstroke for the men in blue and gold. Chawla’s expensive and brief stay at CSK ended in ultimate failure and you’d imagine that he will be second choice here to the impressive young Rahul Charar who continues to go from strength to strength and is now looking to establish himself as first choice for the national team heading into the T20 World Cup.

Chawla could be a key signing for MI on pitches that suit his style of bowling

Further options are provided by in the finger spin department by Jayant Yadav the right armer or young Anukul Roy the left-armer both of whom have had opportunities in the IPL when Mumbai feel that it’s a spinners wicket.

Overall, it’s difficult to find a weakness in the Mumbai Indians team when considering their squad alone. I guess the only question is do they have the hunger to win it a third time?

To that, I’d point out 2 things. Firstly the IPL will be used by the national selectors to form their final plans for the T20 World Cup so it’s imperative for players like Rohit, Kishan, and Yadav that they score big runs to maintain their current positions while fringe players like Krunal Pandya could open up the door for another go at international level if they can impressive in 2021. Secondly, IPL 2022 will be very different. This is likely to be the last time this squad is together following a super auction at the end of the year so there must be an incentive to put in one final push to get this 3rd title in a row a record that is likely to stay for some time.

MI Team Preview IPL 2021 – Venues

As noted above, Mumbai’s move to bring in a player of Piyush Chawla’s experience could prove to be very important. Yes, he struggled in last season’s IPL but CSK undoubtedly purchased him on the basis that they believed he’d be playing on their slow turning wickets in Chennai only to later find that they’d be over in the UAE.

Fortunately for Mumbai Indians or at least for Chawla they do start the defence of their title with 5 games at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium before going onto Delhi which is also a track that generally favours the slower bowlers.

With Pollard and Hardik Pandya offering back up to Bumrah and Boult, MI may well be tempted to play a 3rd slow bowler on Chennai wicket if these player stats by venue are anything to go by

While not having quite the same amount of experience as Chawla, and despite his sullen expression in the infographic below, Rahul Chahar must also being do a little jig in his hotel room at the thought of not having to bowl at the Wankhede. The young wrist spinner has managed just one wicket at Mumbai’s home ground from the 19 overs he’s bowled there but even in his limited game time on the surfaces of Chennai and Delhi has shown that he’s a real threat there!

.

.

Rahul Chahar – IPL bowling record by venue

Wankhede Stadium – 19 overs, 1 wicket, ave 136, S/R 114, economy 7.16

M. A. Chidambaram Stadium – 8 overs, 2 wickers, ave 17.5, S/R 24, economy 4.38

Arun Jaitley Stadium – 4 overs, 3 wickets, ave 6.33, S/R 8, economy 4.33

Batting wise on these slower wickets it’s understandable that averages and strike rates will suffer. However, Mumbai’s game plan on these types of surfaces is generally to lay a platform in the opening part of the innings before launching an attack later on with their big hitters in the middle and lower order.

In that respect Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard will play an important role and of course they have the records to suggest that they can pull it off.

They finish the round robin stage with a further 3 games in Bangalore and 2 more in Kolkata. These venues will probably give the quick bowlers more of a chance for overs and of course with its altitude we might see the best of some of the big hitters from MI at Bangalore. In general, Eden Gardens has been a venue that Mumbai and their players have very good records on so if they do need something from those final 2 games then the draw couldn’t have been kinder.

Cover image source CC license

KKR Team Preview IPL 2021

Kolkata Knight Riders were in the midst of a transition period during last season’s IPL. Here we preview their chances for the 2021 season and consider whether KKR have been sufficiently reshaped to the extent that they can challenge at the very least for a playoff position if not a 3rd IPL title.

KKR Team Preview IPL 2021 – Batting

One of KKR’s primary issues last season was the balance of their batting line-up which they chopped and changed throughout the campaign as they searched for success.

At the top of the order, young Subman Gill has won many admirers for his elegant stroke play and looks like a player to watch particularly in the longer forms of the game for many years to come. He finished last season with 440 runs to his name making him KKR’s top scorer and yet question marks still remain over his ability to go up through the gears as his innings progresses.

Gill’s strike rate by phase of the game remains fairly constant throughout his innings

In essence Gill batting through the innings with a S/R of around 120 isn’t a big problem as long as KKR can get men around him to compensate for his short comings as a T20 cricketer.

First port of call then is to consider who will open with Gill? KKR tried plenty of guys in this role during 2020 including Sunil Narine who on his day is a fantastic pinch hitter in the powerplay but who recently has been struggling to find those occasions nearly as often as he or the KKR management would like. The other options then include Nitish Rana and Raul Tripathi.

Rana is another player who has suffered at KKR with not really knowing his role in the side. Part and parcel of T20 cricket is having to adapt to game situations but Rana has been shunted up and down the order on a near game by game basis. We’ve seen glimpses of what he can do in the IPL and his 352 runs last season was a decent return but you feel that a man of his talents can push up above the 450 mark which is the standard set by the league’s most consistent top order players.

Rana has been playing at number 3 for Delhi in domestic T20 cricket this season and has been in good form. If KKR persist with Narine as the pinch hitting option then having Rana at 3 for the times that the experiment fails seems like a good ploy.

Unlike Gill, Rana has shown that he has the power game to move up through the gears

In Raul Tripathi, KKR had what I felt was an underated player who struggled for chances at a top heavy Rajasthan team in previous seasons. Therefore his returns from the 11 games he did get for KKR last season were something of a disappointment and his failure to have an impact in the domestic leagues in the meantime must come as a concern. The KKR think tank also have an obsession with ensuring a right hand, left hand combination is at the crease most the time (another reason for Rana being moved up and down the order) so playing Tripathi as Gill’s partner seems less likely.

If they did wish to to maintain that right/left combination they could opt for young Venkatesh Iyer whom they signed in this year’s auction. His 227 runs at an average of 76 and strike rate of 150 opening the batting for Madhya Pradesh in the Syed Musthaq Ali Trophy certainly caught the eye and convinced KKR to take a punt on him for this year’s IPL. Since then he’s also hit 198 in a 50 over game suggesting he will join his more established teammates full of confidence and may yet get a chance on the big stage.

On paper then comes a strong KKR middle order that really flattered to deceive in last year’s tournament. Eoin Morgan who took over the captaincy half-way through the 2020 season played some nice cameos on his way past the 400 run mark which is an excellent return for anyone playing outside the top 3 but he was all too often left to either pick-up the pieces of a poor start in the powerplay or play a lone hand towards the back end.

Eoin Morgan plays a significant knock against RR

The experienced Dinesh Karthik had a really poor 2020 season contributing just 169 runs despite playing every match. Again there was some shifting around in regards his role and you’d hope that for this season, KKR ensure that he bats no higher than number 5 as he is more suited to the role of finisher than middle order accumulator.

In fact, the role of middle order accumulator is one that KKR seem to be lacking in general. Having Morgan and Karthik at 4 and 5 looks great if the top order gets the job done but if they don’t and that pair are forced to come in early as was the case on far too many occassions last season then there is the potential for the Knight Riders to be left short at the death. The aquisition of Karun Nair, a player who has a Test Match triple hundred does little to solve the problem and he seems to be utilized as a bowler as much as he does a batsman in domestic white ball cricket these days.

Then of course comes one of the most feared late order hitters and biggest stars of the IPL in Andre Russell. Form and fitness were in short supply for Dre last Autumn and he made no significant impact with the bat in the 10 matches he did manage. He has since played a handful of games in the Lankan T20 league but has not played a competitive game of cricket for 4 months.

The power hitting that both Russell and Narine offer to KKR is crucial but so too is the balance to the side with 2 all-rounders featuring in the top 7. With both players having disappointing 2020 campaigns, KKR moved quickly during the auction to secure back-up options in the form of Shakib Al-Hassan and Ben Cutting both players of significant experience in this league and T20 cricket in general.

Indeed Shakib fresh from his ban could prove one of the most astute signings of the recent auction and as well as his canny left-arm spin he could be the man to offer that much needed middle order stability mentioned above. Of course fitting him into the team would almost certainly require one of Russell or Narine to be left out so it is fair to say that KKR’s transistion period is far from over just yet!

KKR Team Preview IPL 2021 – Bowling

As noted above, one KKR’s apparent strengths are the bowling options they have at their disposal particularly when Russell is fully fit and firing on all cylinders with Nitish Rana even able to chip in as 7th bowling option when conditions allow it.

Russell at full pace can certainly play an important role as a mid-over enforcer and at the death allowing record signing Pat Cummins the opportunity to bowl at least 2 overs with the new ball. Lockie Ferguson also put in some useful displays last season in Russell’s absence and while his wickets sometimes can at the cost of a higher economy rate you get the sense that Morgan will be ok with that as long as the wickets do continue to come.

Russell is an important death bowler as well as batsman for KKR

The concern however with playing Ferguson is that as was the case last season, it leaves KKR very short of lower order batsmen with Cummins being asked to bat as high as number 7 on some occassions. Again, Morgan and coach Brendon McCullum have historically favoured having a batting line-up with players capable of making a contribution down the order to allow their teams to play an attacking brand of cricket whatever the situation and this may well impact team selection for the upcoming IPL season.

Cummins was much maligned after a slow start to his KKR career following his record price at the 2020 auction. On a game by game basis he didn’t bowl too badly and certainly the luck was against him during the first half of the tournament. Equally, I feel that some sides were happy to take fewer risks against him with the knowledge that there were easier run scoring opportunities in later overs against lesser bowlers as demonstrated in the stats below that show only Varun and Cummins were regular performers for KKR with Mavi and Ferguson effective albeit from fewer games and then a real drop off both in wicket taking potency and economy rates.

Here again, I think Shakib will offer a better option to Narine whose impact as bowler has been waning for the last couple of years following injuries and bans for his suspect action. The other slow bowling option who KKR must be hoping will refind his mojo is Kuldeep Yadav who was rated as one of the most dangerous wrist spinners in white ball cricket at his peak but seems to be suffering with confidence crisis at present.

A team with a fully fit and firing Varun, Kuldeep Yadav and Shakib as slow bowling options would take some stopping particularly in favourable conditions (see below) and again we know from watching Morgan as the England captain that he is happy to back his spinners as wicket taking options. Could he be the man to revive Kuldeep’s career?

The real difference between the challengers and the no hopers tends to be the quality and performance of the home grown talent. In Nargakoti and Shivam Mavi, KKR invested heavily on a pair of bowlers based on their young raw talent and success at U-19 level. For the first couple of years, injury stunted their development and limited their opportunities but there were signs from both that KKR might be about to see a return on the sums paid several years ago for these 2 tear away quicks.

KKR Team Preview IPL 2021 – Venues

The Knight Riders will be playing the bulk of their games in Ahmedabad and Bangalore this season. With the former having not been used as an IPL venue for some time it’s diffucult to know with any confidence how the players might perform although the fact that KKR captain Eoin Morgan will be coming off the back of 5 x T20s at the venue with England certainly gives them an edge.

Bangalore meanwhile is a venue that most big hitting batsmen enjoy on account of its altitude. Certainly Dre Russel who has a Strike Rate of 240 and who has hit 14 maximums in the 55 balls he’s faced at this venue can agree!

However, KKR will start on the much slow and lower wickets in Chennai with their opening fixtures against SRH, Mumbai Indians and RCB. As noted above it may well be their slow options that give them an advantage here particularly with the experience of Harbajhan Singh who took 16 wickets in the 2019 season most which came on this pitch.

After their opening matches in Chennai, KKR move onto play the bottom 2 teams from last season’s IPL at the Wankhede where their bowlers both spin and pace generally have very good records.

If they can utilise the conditions well for those opening 5 games and get off to a good start then a play-off place is certainly not beyond this team.

Delhi Capitals Team Preview IPL 2021

Delhi Capitals have been a team on the rise these past couple of years as evidenced by their final appearance in 2020. They possess the perfect balance of a strong core of home grown talent interspered with some of the IPL’s biggest overseas stars. Will IPL 2021 finally be the year that they take the trophy home to the capital? Let’s consider their chances

DC Batting Preview IPL 2021

Delhi’s great strength over the last couple of seasons has been the emergence of a couple of home grown players who have gone from promising youngsters to global superstars. Certainly Rishabh Pant is well on his way to being a household name around the world and DC’s young and inspirational captain Shreyas Iyer is not far behind. Those 2 are joined by Prithvi Shaw another exceptional young batting talent fresh off India’s seemingly endless production line.

While Iyer and Pant have been enhancing their reputations on duty with the national team, Shaw who was dropped from the side after the debacle of the first Test in Australia this winter has been scoring runs for fun in the domestic limited overs competitions. In the 8 games he played in Mumbai’s title winning Vijay Hazare season, Shaw scored 827 runs, the most ever in 50 over season in India, a haul that included scores of 105*, 165, 185* and 227*! The god given talent of the lad is clear to see and for many years he has been heralded as Tendulkar’s heir apparent. Could this be the year that he truly establishes himself?

Alongside side these 3, DC have been clever in deploying a couple of more experienced pros no doubt to allow the youngsters to play their natural games and to give Shreyas Iyer a helping hand on the field. Equally Shikhar Dhawan is still one of the best white ball cricketers around and he was in red hot form last season scoring back to back centuries on his way to being the 2nd highest run scorer in the competition.

You would image then that the top order of DC will comprise these 4 players but the Capitals also have a safe pair of hands in the form of Ajinke Rahane to call upon and they’ve sigend Steve Smith. Smith’s acquisition during the auction was a curious one given that if he is to be successful you’d image that he will need to play in top 3 which as we’ve established would mean disposing one of the men just mentioned and of course it would mean DC probably needing to rebalance their side by dropping another overseas player to accommodate him.

Moving down the order, Marcus Stoinis was one of the best players of IPL 2020 hitting 352 runs and taking 13 wickets. I have to admit he proved me wrong with the way that he has developed his game of late. I thought he would struggle in the middle order coming in against the slower bowlers and if you’ve watched him in the BBL over the last couple of years it’s difficult to remember that he is an all-rounder given that he hardly ever bowls for the Melbourne Stars.

Stoinis’ record against bowler types shows that his performance vs wrist spin has generally been good during his IPL career

Finally, at least in terms of established names, we come to the curious case of Shimron Hetmyer a player that DC and before them RCB have invested heavily in without seeing much of a return. Hetmyer is sure to turn up for this year’s IPL with a new haircut and some fancy trainers but will he be bringing any run scoring form with him?

Hetmyer’s performance by phase of the game shows that he is a dangerous late innings hitter but he’s rarely gone on to make big match winning scores

His exclusion from the West Indies side for much of the last 12months shows his star is definitely on the decline and at 24-years-old he can no longer rely exclusively on the tag of young precocious talent to get him a deal in next year’s mega auction. The acquisition of Smith as well as Sam Billings does give DC options in the middle order and as we’ll see by some of the venues they are playing at, it might be that they can’t afford the luxury of Hetmyer in lower scoring contests.

Breaking into this DC team is going to be tough for any aspiring young batsman but in Lalit Yadav and Ripal Patel the Capitals have a couple of talents on their hands. Lalit’s ability to bowl right-arm off breaks also make him a potentially useful option against sides who are stacked with left-handers.

DC Bowling Preview IPL 2021

It’s impossible for a side to be successful across an entire season without having an efficient and multi-faceted bowling line-up. Delhi Capitals have the advantage of being able to pick Ravi Ashwin and Axar Patel, 2 players coming off a hat full of wickets in the longer format of the game and both of whom are canny operators in T20 cricket. The fact that both can the bat as well coupled with Marcus Stoinis in the top 6 is another big advantage for the Capitals who generally have plenty of options during games.

If they opt to go for a third slow bowler in the form of a wrist spinner then DC can choose from either Amit Mishra who has bags of experience in this tournament or Pravin Dubey who was given some game time last season. Given that between them in last season’s IPL the pair made just six appearances (Mishra was injured) and took 3 wickets it suggests this is an area of concern for the Capitals with wicket taking wrist spinners at the fore of most successful white ball teams around the world.

Mishra needs 11 wickets to go past Lasith Malinga in the all time list of wicket takers in the IPL

Thus far however, that gap has been made up by the brilliant form of their quick bowlers and in particular Kagiso Rabada who was the leading wicket taker in IPL 2020 and the leading fast bowler the season before that. His partnership with fellow countryman Anrich Nortje who claimed 22 wickets in his debut season in the IPL will again be crucial to Delhi’s hopes of winning that elusive first title.

DC’s back up options in the quick bowling stakes are also impressive with the experienced duo of Ishant Sharma and new signing Umesh Yadav ready to offer assistance as a 3rd seamer. I was somewhat surprised that more teams weren’t interested in Umesh Yadav at the auction. While this is probably not his best format, he still has ample experience and is just the kind of player a side can turn to if looking to re-balance the play 11 with an extra seamer. Producing homegrown fast bowlers is something that India in general have gotten better at over the last decade but they are still a valuable commodity within an IPL squad.

Further back options come in the form of England duo Chris Woakes and Tom Curran but you feel that it would take a dramatic loss of form or injury to some of the players ahead of them in order for the pair to see much first team action this season. Other options include Avesh Khan who has made just 9 IPL appearances since his debut in 2017. However, the 24-year-old right arm quick is coming off the back of a very strong domestic T20 season, taking 14 wickets at a strike rate of a victim ever 8.5 balls, the best of any bowler in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this season.

The only other obvious hole in the Delhi Capitals bowling line-up then is the absence of a left-arm seam option. DC did move to bring in 29-year-old Lukman Meriwala whose record at domestic level looks impressive with 72 wickets in 44 T20 matches to date. How he might fair against higher quality batsman in the IPL is anyones guess but his efforts over the years have at least given him the opportunity at a shot at the big time.

Delhi Capitals Venues IPL 2021

As with all teams in IPL 2021, the Delhi Capitals will play their games across 4 neutral venues and so we’ll consider the player stats across those different venues.

3 x matches at the Wankhede Stadium

Pant has certainly enjoyed himself at the Wankhede on previous visits and Dhawan and Rahane have favourable records here too. You would have thought in general that Delhi’s batting line-up will do well on a typical Wankhede pitch and they undoubtedly have the advantage of playing their opening match against CSK who probably don’t have the ideal bowling line-up for these conditions.

Bowling DC have a number of their squad who have tasted success in Mumbai before and it’s noticeable how much experience they have to call upon in different conditions particularly from their bowlers. That little bit of extra bounce at the Wankhede can benefit both spinners and seamers

2 x matches at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium

Strike rates in general tend to fall for batsmen playing in Chennai. DC don’t have a huge amount of experience playing at this venue with the likes of Pant and Shaw making just a single IPL appearance at this particular venue both which finished with single figure scores. That being the Arun Jaitley Stadium where they usually play their home game is similarly slow so you’d expect these players to adapt to conditions quickly.

This is a venue that Ravi Ashwin knows like the back of his hand and has had great success bowling at across all forms of cricket. It wouldn’t surprise me if DC went with 3 spinners in their 2 games here opening the door to either Mishra or Dubey to earn some more game time.

4 x matches Narendra Modi Stadium

Not many players in this season’s IPL have any experience of playing at the Narendra Modi Stadium but Delhi are at advantage in that Rahane and Smith have batted on this surface in the IPL and of course the likes Dhawan, Pant, Iyer and Patel are playing 5 matches there for India at this very moment. Evidence so far is that it’s a little 2 paced but we have seen a few decent knocks by batsmen willing to play their shots.

5 x matches at Eden Gardens

Batting wise Eden Gardens has not been a successful venue for many of the DC batsmen. In addition to the stats shown above, Steve Smith averages 8 from his 3 matches in Kolkata while Stoinis and Shaw also have averages in the teens. As noted above though, DC do have plenty of options when it comes to their batting line-up so on potentially lower scoring pitches they will hope to find the right combinations to set competitive totals.

Eden Gardens tends to have something in it for the seamers and Chris Woakes has been devastating at this venue in the past taking a wicket every 9 balls. Rabada has also found success here in his previous matches and it’s tempting to think that the Capitals strong seam options should serve them well during the run in.

CSK Team Preview IPL 2021 – Bowling

Here we preview the CSK Team ahead of IPL 2021 and consider how the bowlers the men in yellow have at their disposal might be able to lead the Chennai based franchise back to its former glory after a disappointing season last time around.

CSK are renowned for their slow bowling options which prove very useful on the slow, low wickets of Chennai but with the IPL once again being staged at neutral venues, will CSK be able to take the necessary wickets to make an impact in this year’s tournament?

MS Dhoni celebrates a wicket in typically understated fashion
CSK Preview Fast Bowling Options

On paper, CSK certainly have the pace bowling options to be effective in this year’s tournament whatever the conditions. Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur are both seasoned campaigners who offer something slightly different with the ball. Chahar is a new ball specialist and will look to extract whatever swing is on offer during the powerplay overs. Fans can expect to see him bowl 2 if not 3 overs from the off as is demonstrated in his stats by phase of the game below

By contrast Thakur is much more of a bang it into the pitch type of bowler who has a variety of slower ball bumpers that can prove effective in the middle overs and at death again his stats by phase of the game show that he’s more likely to be utilised outside the powerplay.

What CSK have perhaps lacked recently is a genuine quick with a little bit of an x-factor who can buy a couple of wickets on good batting tracks. They do have Aussie Josh Hazlewood as well as Lungi Ngidi from South Africa and perhaps as we’ll consider later some of the venues they are playing on this season might be well suited to this pair.

Ngidi’s chances since his arrival at the club in 2018 have been limited but when he does play he has carried on his form from the international stage where he is a consistant wicket taker for the Proteas with 20 victims in his 11 IPL appearances to date.

Ngidi has a happy knack of picking up wickets in T20 cricket

Hazlewood meanwhile is probably least effective in this format as demonstrated from his solitary wicket in 3 outings last year and the fact that he has only represented Australia 9 times in T20 cricket in a career spanning 8 years.

Backing up these primary fast bowling options are a couple of all-rounders in the form of Sam Curran and Dwayne Bravo. Curran who was CSK’s leading wicket taker in last season’s IPL with 13 victims obviously has the advantage of being a left-armer and you sense that Dhoni likes to have that option at his disposal while Bravo is an experienced campaigner, a fact underlined by him being 2nd only to Kieron Pollard on the all time T20 appearance list.

The West Indian all-rounder managed just 6 appearances in last year’s IPL as a result of a groin injury and CSK will hope that he is fit and in form for the start of IPL 2021. My concern would be that Bravo has lost his pace and now has to rely exclusively on his slower balls. While still an effective weapon their potency is diminished when high quality batsman know that he’s unable to follow them up with a full pace delivery as was the case when Bravo was at his best.

Of the lesser known, uncapped players, that little bit of x-factor could be provided by KM Asif who has the ability to bowl 140kmph and is known for hitting his yorkers. He took 6 wickets for Kerala during the Syed Musthaq Ali trophy games in January including a burst of 3/25 against Mumbai that accounted for IPL regulars Sarfaraz Khan and Shivam Dube.

CSK also acquired 22-year-old pace bowler Harishankar Reddy who has had success on the domestic circuit but may need a little further polishing before he is ready for the IPL.

CSK Preview Spin Bowling Options

The slower bowlers have been a traditional strength of CSK. In 2019, the last time the IPL was held in India and last time that CSK got to play at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium their spinners dominated the tournament on their way to the final. However, last season away from the slow turning tracks of Chennai, the Super Kings found things much harder going in no small due to the impotency of their spin bowlers.

The decision not to find a direct replacement fo Piyush Chawla who lasted just one season at CSK following his big money move just over a year ago is curious one and suggests that Dhoni will keep faith with 41-year-old leg-spinner Imran Tahir as well as Karn Sharma who in his 3 seasons at CSK to date has been something of a bit part player. Again, the concern here is how CSK will take wickets during the middle overs without a genuine fast bowler or without a first rate wrist spinner. Tahir would have hoped to had the 2nd half of the PSL to have proved that he is the man for that role but the league’s suspension in early March means CSK enter IPL 2021 with more questions than answers in that department.

They have moved to fill the gap left by Harbajhan Singh in the finger spinning department by signing Moeen Ali and Krishnappa Gowtham who was the most expensive Indian player in this year’s auction. Alongside the left-arm spin of either Jadeja or Mitch Santner it means that CSK have plenty of options to play with again and they could be a threat in the right conditions.

In terms of younger options, CSK could turn to Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore who has been prolific in domestic white ball cricket. The young left-armer bowls fairly quick, flat deliveries that target the stumps but still manages to extract some turn. It seems unlikely that CSK would go into a match with 2 slow-left armers so unless Ravi Jadeja is injured or dropped then Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore will probably remain on the bench.

CSK IPL 2021 Venues

All player stats by venue for IPL 2021 can found on our pages

5 x matches at the Wankhede Stadium

We can see straight away that CSK have tended to use their fast bowlers more on the bouncier pitches in Mumbai. Ngidi has played on both occassions in 2018 and 2019 while Thakur has also been asked to do a significant amount of bowling. Both Bravo and Sharma have experience of the venue from their time with Mumbai Indians.

4 x matches at Arun Jaitley Stadium

The Arun Jaitley stadium in Delhi is certainly likely to provide the pitch that CSK are most comfortable on. The question is will they still be in with a realistic chance of making the playoffs when they get there? We can see that all there primary spin bowling options have enjoyed success here in the past and if that trend continues then these 4 games could be crucial to their season.

3 x matches at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium

Onwards to Bangalore and a stadium in which most bowlers economy rates suffer. Again, taking wickets is usually the best form of defence in T20 cricket so much will depend on whether CSK can find the right combinations to be a threat throughout the 20 overs. If not, sides will be able to accelerate earlier against them and at the altitude that Bangalore offers that usually means big scores!

2 x matches at Eden Gardens

CSK’s venue for the final 2 games sees them travel to Eden Gardens, a wicket that generally favours seamers with some occasional inconsistent pace and bounce. CSK’s spinners have done well to take wickets here put have generally done so while conceding runs at a rapid rate.

CSK Team Preview IPL 2021 – Batting

Here we preview the CSK Team ahead of the IPL 2021 and consider how the batsmen the mean in yellow have at their disposal might be able to turn around a poor showing in last year’s tournament.

Preview CSK Capped Top-Order Batsmen IPL 2021

Top order runs are an essential part of any sides hopes of making the playoffs but in that regard CSK have failed to have one of their top order hit the magical 450 run mark that signifies a really big year in each of the last 2 IPL seasons.

Ravi Jadeja celebrates for CSK source

While playing at home in Chennai where scores are harder to come by and CSK feel confident of defending pretty much any total with their armoury of bowling options, that hasn’t been so much of a problem but outside of the MA Chidambaram Stadium they will need to score faster and score bigger than they have in previous IPL seasons if they hope to climb back up the rankings.

Much then will depend on the experienced Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu to get them off to positive starts in the coming IPL. Du Plessis has been fairly consistant over the last few years for CSK but perhaps the bigger concerns are over Raina and Rayudu who have had a couple of quiet seasons including of course the former missing last year’s IPL altogether.

Indeed, since the end of IPL 2019, Raina has played just 5 List A T20 matches all of which came in this seasons Syed Musthaq Ali Trophy, where he averaged 34 at a strike rate of 113. The rumour mill was rife with speculation that last seasons exit from IPL was due to a fallout with MS Dhoni and the leadership at CSK and Raina’s decision not to join up with the CSK training camp that is currently underway hasn’t done anything to quell the whispers that not all is rosey in his relationship with the franchise.

Rayudu meanwhile has warmed up nicely with a couple of more significant innings for Andhra in the Syed Musthaq Ali trophy and CSK will hope that he can recapture the form he showed in 2018. His run scoring in that IPL season helped get him back into the Indian white ball team and he seemed a shoo-in for the 2019 World Cup squad before being overlooked. That can’t have done his confidence any good and neither can his constant shifting up and down the order. At 35 years old, this may his last chance at redemption with a mega auction looming next year.

Speaking of players past their best, Robin Uthappa who has become something of journeyman crickter in recent years has found a new home at CSK who become his 3rd franchise in as many seasons. Uthappa averaged just 16 in last years tournament and has managed just 2 half centuries in the past 3 IPL seasons. He is joined by Test favourite Pujara who has unsurprisingly failed to win an IPL contract for some time but whom CSK have decided to add to their ranks for this year’s competition.

It’s difficult to see how either of those players will be making a significant contribution to solving the problem of top order runs noted above and so it must surely be time for CSK to consider some of the younger uncapped options that they have at their disposal.

Preview CSK Uncapped Top-Order Batsmen IPL 2021

Ruturaj Gaikwad

The young right hander announced himself to the IPL at the back end of last season and might have played more than the half a dozen matches he did had he not have tested positive for Covid-19 a couple of weeks before the tournament was due to begin.

Things didn’t start particularly well for the youngster as he recorded scores of 0, 0 and 5 in his first 3 IPL matches but he followed that up with 3 back to back half-centuries. Starting with this effort to guide his team to a victory against RCB. He then followed it up with another excellent knock against KKR and while he didn’t quite see the job through on this occasion his 72 from 53 balls laid the platform for Ravi Jadeja’s late heroics as he hit a 6 to win off the final ball.

Gaikwad’s success last year all came in innings where CSK were batting 2nd

He comes into IPL 2021 off the back of some scratchy form for Maharashtra in limited overs cricket. A brilliant 102 against Himachal Pradesh accounts for over half the runs he has scored in his last 10 innings and CSK will be hoping that he can return to the kind of consistency that he showed at the back end of last year’s IPL which will surely make him one of the uncapped players to watch in this years Dream11 fantasy cricket game.

Narayan Jagadeesan

Another young up and coming top order batsman at CSK, Jagadeesan didn’t quite hit the heights that Gaikwad did in last year’s tournament but that was as much about opportunity (he had 2 at bats during his 5 appearances) as it is about talent.

The right-hander who can also keep wicket has in the meantime been scoring plenty of runs in domestic cricket in both T20 and 50 over forms for his native Tamil Nadu. In fact, he was the top runs scorer in this year’s Syed Musthaq Ali T20 tournament with 364 runs at an average of 74.8 including 4 half centuries in the 8 fixtures played. Since then he has also top scored for Tamil Nadu in the recently completed Vijay Hazare Trophy which included a century in the opening match against a Punjab bowling attack boasting the likes of Sandeep Sharma, Siddarth Kaul and Arshdeep Singh.

Chezhian Harinishanth

Jagadeesan’s partner in crime at Tamil Nadu is Chezhian Harinishanth a left handed batsman who also had a successful Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy that led to him being signed by CSK for this year’s IPL.

Given his fairly limited experience in list A cricket this years IPL may come too soon but he’ll certainly be looking to take plenty away from training with some of the biggest names in IPL history.

Preview CSK middle and lower order batting

Despite their disappointing IPL 2020, CSK didn’t make wholesale changes to their squad but one area that has seen some new faces is in the all-rounder spots.

Moeen Ali and Krishnappa Gotham join the likes of MS Dhoni, Sam Curran, DJ Bravo and Ravi Jadeja in what looks like a strong engine room for CSK. Of course it’s not impossible that CSK might look to promote one of the English all-rounders up the order as a pinch hitter in the same way that they did with Curran last year.

The other question that we will only know the answer to later in the season is whether Dhoni’s relatively poor returns last year were just a one off or whether it is symptomatic of a steady decline that could spell the end of a glittering career. The 39-year-old failed to score a half-century last season and no longer plays in any other format or tournament other than the the IPL meaning that by the time the 2021 IPL starts he won’t have hit a ball in anger in 5 months. My feeling is that this will be Dhoni’s swan song and that he won’t return for what will be a much changed IPL in 2022.

Preview CSK IPL 2021 Venues

Here we look at the CSK player stats by the venues the they will play at

5 x matches at the Wankhede

The Wankhede is one of the faster pitches in the IPL and in many ways is the exact opposite of what CSK batsman get at their home venue in Chennai. In general it’s not been a happy hunting ground for them although at the same time they won’t be playing Mumbai Indians there which will come as a relief.

4 x Matches at Arun Jaitley Stadium

By contrast Dehli’s pitches tend to be a little slower and lower and we immediately see that CSK’s batsman have profited in more familiar conditions. There 4 games here will be a chance for CSK to get runs on the board and dominate from there.

3 x matches M. Chinnaswamy Stadium

Generally a good batting track and at altitude we see averages of most batsman as well as their strike rates rocket up. The one strange exception is Suresh Raina who hasn’t enjoyed playing in Bangalore across his career perhaps as a result of the extra pace and bounce on offer.

2 x matches at Eden Garden

CSK will finish off the round robin with 2 games at Eden Garden where most of their squad have a positive record.

Summary

CSK will be hoping that a couple of their senior pros can rediscover some early form in this year’s IPL but perhaps the defining factor to their batting success will be how quickly they can integrate the uncapped batsmen into the side full-time and make them into established IPL stars.

If the top-order can fire and get CSK into promising positions then they do have the lower order hitters this year to add big runs later on in the innings. All in all, i’d expect the CSK batting line-up to bounce back from last year’s disappointment and make them a difficult team to beat once again.