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The 2021 Indian Premier League

The Indian Premier League (IPL), the biggest and richest T20 league in the world, is back in India after a COVID-induced exile to the UAE last year, and it looks like it’s good to be home! The Mumbai Indians are the current defending champions after beating Delhi Capitals in the 2020 final and they’re looking like strong contenders again this year. Let’s take a dive into each team, and see how they’re looking ahead of this year’s infamous IPL tournament.

It’s only right to start with the Mumbai Indians (MI), who are not only the most successful team in IPL history and reigning champions, but are also starting off this year’s tournament with the first game against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday. They have one of the best Indian selections, led by Rohit Sharma and supported by Jasprit Bumrah, Ishan Kishan and the Pandya brothers. They have also signed Arjun Tendulkar, son of the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, and so it will be exciting to see how he goes on the big stage. It is certainly hard to see anyone beating them to the trophy…

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have no English players and have instead opted for all their overseas players to be from the Southern Hemisphere. The spin duo of Adam Zampa and Yuzvendra Chahal will hopefully provide some low scoring overs for the team and then Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj can be successful in the death overs. If captain Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers can provide the same batting power as they have previously then RCB have a good chance of making it to the final stages of the tournament.

Following their least successful season ever last year Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will be looking to bounce back and prove their worth. They haven’t made a lot of changes to their squad this year, but with MS Dhoni as captain, and the likes of Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Faf du Plessis and Dwayne Bravo in the mix they should put up a bit of a fight, however I don’t believe they have the overall firepower to finish in the top half of the table this year.

The Delhi Capitals (DC) may once again pose the greatest challenge to the Mumbai Indians, with many of their stars returning and a few exciting signings. They have one of the strongest overseas playing groups with the likes of Steve Smith, Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortjeas, as well as the English contingent of Tom Curran, Sam Billings and the returning Chris Woakes. And that’s before mentioning the Indian stars of Ravi Ashwin, Axar Patel and Rishabh Pant that they have in their armoury. The biggest issue facing DC will be which 4 they’ll select for the starting XI!

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) are always a dark horse in the competition. They won it in both 2012 and 2014 and with Eoin Morgan as their captain, arguably one of the greatest leaders of the current game, you can never write them off. They have a good overseas group, consisting of the likes of Andre Russell, Pat Cummins, Lockie Ferguson and Shakib Al Hasan, however it’s the Indian players who are slightly weaker than others. They might make it to the playoffs; however, I can’t see them going all the way.

The newly named Punjab Kings (PBKS), formerly Kings XI Punjab, have finished mid table for the last few years and it’s hard to see them doing much better this year. Led by ‘The Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran, the Kings will be one of the most exciting teams to watch, especially with the addition of the top-ranked T20 batsman in the world, Dawid Malan. However, other than Jhye Richardson and Mohammed Shami there is a lack of depth in their bowling line up so it will be interesting to see how they get on over the next few weeks.

The Rajasthan Royals (RR) broke the auction record this year by acquiring Chris Morris for a whopping sum of INR 16.25 Cr (£1.6million), clearly showing their intentions! They have a strong English line up of Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and reigning IPL MVP Jofra Archer; however, Archer will miss at least some of the tournament after having surgery on his bowling hand. They have a decent Indian set up of captain Sanju Samson, Robin Uthappa and Rahul Tewatia who can all put in some useful performances; however, I do believe the fate of the team will fall on how well their English players can perform.

Almost unchanged, the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SH) definitely have a team that can challenge for the title, having previously won it back in 2016. Their overseas players are all pretty impressive, with David Warner, Rashid Khan, Kane Williamson, Jonny Bairstow, Mohammad Nabi and Jason Holder all fighting for spots in the starting XI. They also have a strong Indian contingent, led by Manish Pandey and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, meaning that they are definitely a team to watch.

In conclusion, it looks like this year will end with a repeat of last season’s final, Delhi against Mumbai. The Sunrisers and KKR will definitely challenge again, whilst RCB will no doubt put up a fight to win their first title. With games on every day, it is set to be a couple of months of intense and exciting games of T20 cricket and I for one am very much looking forward to it!

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