IPL 2021 is set to start in April, and after a hectic and mind-blowing auction, let us take a look at who has a chance of winning it?
8: Sunrisers Hyderabad- 5%
The Sunrisers have been impressive in recent years, but i really can’t see them winning ahead of the 7 other teams. Their squad is pretty decent, but the purchases made in the recently done auction seemed a teeny bit weird. They are yet to purchase a fast bowler of overseas origin, which could prove to be detrimental to their title challenge. One Player to Watch is Kane Williamson. The New Zealand talisman played decently in IPL 2020, but didn’t really seem to be performing his best in each and every match. This time,however, he should be back to his best since he has been consistently performing in more than a couple of matches for New Zealand.
7. Kolkata Knight Riders — 7%
The Knight Riders have been unlucky in the league since their win in 2014, and I doubt their luck will improve after they failed to improve their squad significantly in the auction. There is no doubt that Shakib Al Hasan is a classy player, but the rest of their buys were back ups for the positions they already have confirmed starters for. It also doesn’t help that their West Indian duo Sunil Narine and Andre Russell is really out of form and the latter is seriously injury prone despite being one of the strongest hitters in the league. All in all, it just doesn’t seem like it could be KKR’s year. One player to watch for the KKRs is the youngster Shubman Gill. Gill made his debut for India in the series against Australia, and has kept the likes of Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul out of the team with his great form and 50s. He was an important part of the KKR squad last season, and should prove to be an important part once again for the Riders.
6.RCB — 10%
The Bangalore side look stronger than ever, but previous bottlejobs somehow make me feel that I can’t rank them higher. RCB performed quite well last year, but they surprisingly released a HUGE portion of their squad to end up with a ginormous purse for the auction. However, they didn’t really spend their money wisely as they spent a ginormous total of 28 million on two players who don’t exactly have an amazing track record in the IPL or T20s. Glenn Maxwell is no doubt a massive signing, but the question is, will he show up for them this year? Kyle Jamieson is also a top pace bowler, but can he make it in the IPL despite having little experience in T20s? RCB’s performance this year will be based on these two’s performances, and I’m not convinced they are the players which can lead a side devoid of IPL titles to one. One player to watch, however, is also Glenn Maxwell. The 32 year-old has been in good form in all 3 formats for the Aussies, and will hope that he will do well in the IPL this year. He is known to be a handy spin bowler and power-hitter, and will play a crucial part in matches requiring the side to chase huge totals.
5. Rajasthan Royals — 10%
I had a tough decision to make for this one: back the side who made the final, or back the side who had the best auction. I ended up having to back the Delhi Capitals to do better, just on the basis that they have the ‘new MS Dhoni’ Rishabh Pant. The Royals are a more than decent side, but I have my doubts over whether they have the ability to go all the way. They have been quite underwhelming in the competition since winning it in its first edition, but they had a really impressive auction this season, as they captured the big fish Chris Morris, alongside top players like Shivam Dube and Liam Livingstone. Despite this, I just cannot see even their best team defeating teams like MI or CSK. Their squad was severely under-balanced last season, but this year it is seriously over-balanced, and the RR coaches will have a hard time deciding who to pick. My player to watch from the Royals has to be Chris Morris. The South African made history after he became the most expensive buy in the IPL for over SIXTEEN CRORES. Crazy money, but well deserved, given Morris’ decent performances in recent years and his potential to be the ideal T20 all-rounder. I mean, if an underwhelming Glenn Maxwell gets 14.25 crores, why can’t a decent Chris Morris get 2 crores more?
4. Delhi Capitals — 10.5%
DC have soared to new heights after the franchise was renamed back in 2019. Shreyas Iyer has proven to be a monumental captain after he led his team to the final in 2020, only for them to falter in the last minute. They didn’t do that well in the auction however, with Steve Smith and Umesh Yadav the only smart signings made. No offence intended, but I doubt Tom Curran is worth 5.25 Crores. On the other hand, they do have a strong squad, and will prove to be a team to be wary of if things go right. One to watch from their squad is the Australian Hulk, Marcus Stoinis. The all-rounder joined the franchise in 2020 after being released by RCB, and has proven himself to be a shrewd addition to the side. Known for his power-hitting and useful seam bowling, Stoinis will most likely return to his role in the lower batting order after the addition of fellow Australian Steve Smith, despite filling in comfortably at opener alongside Shikar Dhawan.
3. Chennai Super Kings — 17.5%
Look, this may seem weird given the Lions’ performance last season, but hear me out. CSK have been, and will always be, one of the greater teams in the IPL, but last time around they were far from great. However, there are two things which i feel boost their chances: their shrewd off-spin additions, and the emergence of a certain Ruturaj Gaikwad. The Kings had a more than decent auction as they captured two major off-spinners in the form of Moeen Ali and Krishnappa Gowtham. They also added a couple of youngsters and Pujara as back up for their main squad, which could prove to be a crucial factor on whether the Lions win the IPL or not. Moeen Ali may not be the most impressive of players, but you just need to look at his performance at the Chepauk for England during the 2nd test match to know that he is a gem of a player on turning track. He was a handy player with both ball and willow, and is just plain unlucky that India were dominating his fellow bowlers. One to watch from Chennai’s side is the man i was talking about earlier: Gaikwad. The youngster established himself in the starting 11 as an opener with Faf Du Plessis after a plethora of classy and crucial performances to save CSK some blushes towards the end of the season. Pressure will be mounting on him to continue to perform, and hopefully he will live up to the fans’ hype.
2. Mumbai Indians — 17.5%
This one is a shocker, isn’t it? Hear me out, readers, as i explain myself for this supposedly crazy prediction. Mumbai Indians may be the general favourites to win the title (again), but I just cannot see it happening. Winning a title three times in a row is a gruelling task for any squad, especially one which changes every season, and Cricket isn’t really a game where a team can stick to a certain playing identity to assert their dominance on rivals like football or basketball is. I have no doubt, however, that the Mumbai Indians will be heavily involved in the title fight. My player to watch is the MI’s new addition Jimmy Neesham. The New Zealander had a less than desirable season last year, but there is NO doubt he is a talented cricketer. On his day, he is almost a carbon copy of Glenn Maxwell (except that he is a pace bowler), and could potentially displace Kieron Pollard in the first 11 if the 34 year-old is off form or injured.
- Punjab Kings — 22.5%
The renamed franchise had a massive auction this season, as they bought two promising Australian pacers for 22 crores, the world’s no.1 T20 batsman for 1.5 crores, a promising batsman from Tamil Nadu for 5.25 crores and more! Their performances in the past have been similar to a roller coaster, with the team sometimes world class, sometimes utterly disappointing. This season, however, I feel things could change after their auction, as well as the performances of their players on the international stage. The title has evaded the Punjab side for long, and their long-serving players will be hungry for success. To summarise, their side is scary. Period. The perfect mix of pace and spin bowlers, as well as world class batsmen make the Punjab Kings the perfect unit, and they look set to conquer the IPL as long as they don’t mess up. They better not mess up. My player to watch from Anil Kumble’s side is Jhye Richardson, the Australian quick. Jhye Richardson’s rise to fame has been somewhat of a fairytale, and after ending his BBL season with the Golden Arm in his cabinet, he will be looking forward to trying to obtain the coveted Purple Cap in the IPL as well. While his economy rate is questionable, he more than makes up for it with his regular and crucial wickets. He will not be someone batsman will target, and may end up as the player of the tournament if he keeps up his BBL form. Watch out batsmen, Jhye Richardson is in town.
So that’s all for this article. Despite being a hardcore CSK fan, I sadly can’t name them favourites due to the Punjab Kings’ fearsome squad. What is your opinion? Who do you think will win the IPL? Do let me now, and till next time, Adios!