The Indian Premier League (IPL) is all set to restart on September 19 in UAE. Teams are slowly gearing up for the challenge that lies ahead. The incentive of getting picked in the World Cup squad is another dangling carrot. IPL 2021 was called off midway earlier this year in April owing to the Covid-19 second wave. The tournament is set for a grand conclusion in UAE.
Who occupies the top 4 spots currently?
Delhi Capitals and Chennai Super Kings were easily the two best teams in the first half of the IPL. Royal Challengers Bangalore looked good for the large part of the first draw. Mumbai Indians had slowly started looking good until the break came in the way. DC lead the charts with 6 wins in 8 games, while CSK and RCB have 5 wins from 7 games each. MI have 4 wins in many matches (7).
There is a competition for points in the bottom half of the table. Rajasthan Royals occupy the 5th spot. KL Rahul-led Punjab Kings come a close 6th. Kolkata Knight Riders are at 7th while former champions Sunrisers Hyderabad are at the bottom of the pile. Only PBKS have played 8 games up until now as compared to the other 3 in the lower half. RR have 3 wins from 7 games as compared to PBKS’ 3 wins from 8. KKR have 2 wins in 7 games while SRH are languishing with just a solitary win in 7 matches.
Who looks likely to qualify for the playoffs in IPL 2021?
There is clearly a gap between the top 4 and bottom 4 currently. Teams from the lower half have to put in a special performance to take the leap in IPL.
#8 Rajasthan Royals:
RR are affected with all their first-choice overseas players not being available. They are now dependent on Chris Morris and Liam Livingstone to lift them up. Their captain, Sanju Samson is not even being talked about post a dismal T20I series against Sri Lanka. He will be eager to prove a point. It looks uphill for RR to qualify for the playoffs.
#7 Sunrisers Hyderabad:
SRH are one of the most consistent sides of the IPL. But they had a dismal run in the first half. They axed their inspirational captain, David Warner, and even went on to drop him. SRH look a highly distracted unit. It will take a miracle for them to make a comeback and qualify for the playoffs.
#6 Kolkata Knight Riders:
KKR are another team who have flattered to deceive. They boast of world-class performers but they haven’t fired in unison. Pat Cummins’s unavailability exposes their already weak pace attack. KKR skipper, Eoin Morgan needs to step up if KKR have to go further in the league. Their chances sure appear dim at this moment.
#5 Punjab Kings:
PBKS are currently at the 6th spot but they have a revitalised team. Their captain, KL Rahul has found a new lease of life as a Test opener. He is sure to carry that confidence into the league. The signing of Adil Rashid comes as a short in the arm for Kings. His experience will prove to be crucial. Kings look the most likely of the 4 teams to have a crack at the playoffs.
Which team looks like a title contender for IPL 2021?
#4 Chennai Super Kings:
CSK looked like a team that is hungry to prove a point this season. They functioned like a well-oiled unit across different venues. Their depth in batting aided their freestyle run-making. CSK don’t have great memories of the UAE from last year. That may be the only factor that might pull them back. We expect them to scrape hard.
#3 Delhi Capitals:
Delhi Capitals looked in red hot form before the tournament was suspended midway. Rishabh Pant took over the captaincy mantle in absence of Shreyas Iyer who was down with an injury. They are yet to decide who will lead DC now that Iyer is back to full fitness. DC’s challenge lies in maintaining the momentum heading into the 2nd half of the league. They look good to finish in the Top-3 if not win the Trophy.
#2 Royal Challengers Bangalore
RCB are the only team who have made solid additions in form of replacements. They managed to sign Wanindu Hasaranga, who was the most valuable player in the India-Sri Lanka series. RCB also signed Dushmantha Chameera, another Lankan player who made a good impression in the same series. They addressed their middle-order woes too. RCB’s signing of Tim David has created a huge buzz. They have given themselves the best chance of finishing on the podium this season.
#1 Mumbai Indians
Mumbai Indians’ campaign took off once they arrived in Delhi. Their lower middle order started finding form on the batting beauties of Ferozeshah Kotla. MI will look to continue their rampage in UAE this season too. The fact that 6 out of 15 players in India’s T20 World Cup squad are from MI speaks volumes about their efficiency. If they get on a winning run, it will be almost impossible to stop them. They look good for a record 6th title!