The much-awaited Indian T20 League 2021 is less than a fortnight away as the tournament is set to begin on April 9 with a blockbuster match between Mumbai and Bangalore at the Chepauk Stadium in Chennai.
After playing at neutral venues throughout the last season in the United Arab Emirates, teams will again be forced to play at neutral venues in the cluster caravan format to minimise risk for the players and the fans.
While we wait eagerly for the tournament to begin, here’s our look at how the teams shape up:
MUMBAI ARE STILL THE FAVOURITES
Mumbai under the captaincy of Rohit Sharma have been the most dominant team in the Indian T20 League.
They are the defending champions and will be entering this year’s competition with a strong side. Mumbai have retained their main players in the auction and have made quite a few additions to the team.
The batting attack is led by the captain himself, with Rohit Sharma is one of the most valuable players in the game. Ishan Kishan and Surya Kumar Yadav have shown their mettle with stunning debuts in the series against England. Kieran Pollard and Hardik Pandya are two of the best finishers in the T20 format, adding firepower at the tail-end of the game. The pace attack is led by Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult, who are two of the top bowlers in any format of the game.
With their strong team and all-round performance, Mumbai will be the favourites to win their third consecutive Indian T20 League title in a row.
Squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Chris Lynn, Saurabh Tiwary, Anmolpreet Singh, Aditya Tare (wk), Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar, Jayant Yadav, Anukul Roy, Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult, Dhawal Kulkarni, Mohsin Khan, Adam Milne, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Piyush Chawla, James Neesham, Yudhvir Charak, Marco Jansen, Arjun Tendulkar
CAN CHENNAI TURN THINGS AROUND?
The 2020 season of the Indian T20 League was the first time in League history that Chennai have failed to reach playoffs. They would hope to forget their disastrous campaign last year and focus on returning to their past glory, once again under the captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
A big blow for Chennai is the loss of Shane Watson, who announced his retirement from all formats of the game last year. But the likes of MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Faf Du Plessis still make Chennai a powerful batting outfit.
Dwayne Bravo is a consistent all-rounder who gives strength to the team. Mitchell Santner and Josh Hazlewood lead the pace attack. At the recent auctions, Chennai made some major additions to the team. Krishnappa Gowtham replaces Piyush Chawla, while Moeen Ali joins the team to join a bowling attack featuring the likes of Imran Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja.
Squad: Faf du Plessis, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, N. Jagadeesan (wk), Robin Uthappa, MS Dhoni (c, wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Curran, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, R. Sai Kishore, Mitchell Santner, Imran Tahir, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Lungi Ngidi, Josh Hazlewood, KM Asif, Moeen Ali, K Gowtham, Cheteshwar Pujara, M Harisankar Reddy, K. Bhagath Varma, C Hari Nishanth
HYDERABAD LOOK TO OVERCOME PLAY-OFF BLUES
Hyderabad have put up impressive performances in the last two editions of the Indian T20 League, but they have failed to continue that momentum at the business end of the tournament. Their consistency is their strength, however, and they feature only behind Mumbai and Chennai in their overall win-loss ratio.
The core of the team has been settled for a while now – David Warner, Kane Williamson, Bhuvaneswar Kumar and Rashid Khan are the leaders of the team.
Manish Pandey is a capable batsman in the middle-order, while Jonny Bairstow and Wriddhiman Saha are both excellent wicketkeepers.
There have been no significant additions for the team in the auction, and Hyderabad will head into the games with more or less the same playing XIs as last year.
Squad: David Warner (c), Kane Williamson, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Manish Pandey, Sreevats Goswami (wk), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Priyam Garg, Vijay Shankar, Abhishek Sharma, Abdul Samad, Virat Singh, Mitchell Marsh, Jason Holder, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Shahbaz Nadeem, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, T. Natarajan, Sandeep Sharma, Khaleel Ahmed, Siddarth Kaul, Basil Thampi, Jagadeesha Suchith, Kedar Jadhav, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman
DELHI EAGER FOR THE TITLE
Delhi have languished at the bottom of the Indian T20 League for years before reaching the playoffs in 2019 and making it to the finals last year. The Shreyas Iyer-led team will look to claim the title this year, with new signings bolstering the core of the team.
Delhi’s top order is headlined by the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Prithvi Shaw, and Ajinkya Rahane. Rishabh Pant’s explosive batting technique is likely to work in Delhi’s favour in the T20 format.
Add to it the recent batting prowess shown by Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel in the recent internationals, and Delhi’s batting looks infallible. The bowling department is headed by Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje.
Ricky Ponting’s coaching and a strong core has turned around Delhi’s fortunes, and they are likely to reach the playoffs this season.
Squad: Shreyas Iyer (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis, Chris Woakes, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Amit Mishra, Lalit Yadav, Pravin Dubey, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Ishant Sharma, Avesh Khan, Steve Smith, Umesh Yadav, Ripal Patel, Vishnu Vinod, Lukman Meriwala, M Siddarth, Tom Curran, Sam Billings
PUNJAB CHANGE THEIR NAME
Following the example of Delhi, Punjab have renamed their team ahead of the 2021 edition of the Indian T20 League. With Anil Kumble as their coach, the KL Rahul-led side will certainly be hoping to bring about a turnaround of their fortunes like Delhi.
The batting line-up features three of the most outstanding batsmen in the shortest format of the game – skipper KL Rahul, world’s no.1 T20 batsman Dawid Malan and Chris Gayle.
Lower down the order, their batting lineup is less settled. Deepak Hooda, Moises Henriques and Sarfaraz Khan have to perform their best if Punjab wants to reach the playoffs.
Mohammed Shami, Ishan Porel and Chris Jordan lead the weak bowling attack, which more often than not makes Punjab’s matches a batsman’s game.
Squad: KL Rahul (c, wk), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Mandeep Singh, Prabsimran Singh, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Sarfaraz Khan, Deepak Hooda, Murugan Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi, Harpreet Brar, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh, Ishan Porel, Darshan Nalkande, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Jhye Richardson, Shahrukh Khan, Riley Meredith, Moises Henriques, Jalaj Saxena, Utkarsh Singh, Fabian Allen , Saurabh Kumar
A NEW-LOOK RAJASTHAN
Rajasthan have fallen off track lately as they finished at the bottom of the table in last year’s Indian T20 League. Fans are hoping that a change in captaincy and a new head coach might turn around the team’s performance this year.
Sanju Samson has been entrusted with the captaincy of the team after the team released Steve Smith. There is no shortage of batting firepower for Rajasthan as the likes of Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, and Rahul Tewatia are all capable batsmen. The addition of Chris Morris will bolster the pace attack, with Jofra Archer already in the team.
Squad: Sanju Samson (c&wk), Jos Buttler (wk), Ben Stokes, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Manan Vohra, Anuj Rawat, Riyan Parag, David Miller, Rahul Tewatia, Mahipal Lomror, Shreyas Gopal, Mayank Markande, Jofra Archer, Andrew Tye, Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi, Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Mustafizur Rahman, Chetan Sakariya, KC Cariappa, Liam Livingstone, Kuldip Yadav, Akash Singh
KOLKATA AIM FOR STABILITY
There is no side in the Indian T20 League that depends more on a single player than Kolkata.
Andre Russell’s performance makes or breaks the team fortunes as they have found out last season when they had to make a captaincy change last season mid-way.
Kolkata have succeeded in adding Ben Cutting and Shakib-al-Hasan to their squad, joining as backup options for Andre Russell and Sunil Narine.
Dinesh Karthik has improved his batting after relieving his captaincy, and Shubman Gill is an explosive batsman with a knack for big scores.
The team is rich with all-rounders, which is an advantage if the players perform up to their mark.
In the pace department, Kolkata have the in-form Pat Cummins and Kamlesh Nagarkoti.
Squad: Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Tim Seifert (wk), Rahul Tripathi, Rinku Singh, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Eoin Morgan (c), Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Varun CV, Kuldeep Yadav, Pat Cummins, Lockie Ferguson, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Vaibhav Arora, Karun Nair, Harbhajan Singh, Ben Cutting, Venkatesh Iyer, Pawan Negi
BANGALORE DESPERATE FOR A TITLE
There rarely has been a team in the Indian T20 League which boasted of better players among its ranks than Bangalore. But the title has been denied time and again to the Virat Kohli-led side, and they will be desperate to lay their hands on the title.
Bangalore feature a much different side compared to last year, having released most of their players before the auction.
Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers headline the batting lineup, while Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar lead the bowlers.
Glenn Maxwell and Devdutt Padikkal are dangerous batsmen capable of scoring big runs, while new addition Kyle Jamieson will be a big plus for the team down the order.
Squad: Virat Kohli (c), Devdutt Padikkal, Josh Philippe (wk), AB de Villiers (wk), Pavan Deshpande, Washington Sundar, Daniel Sams, Yuzvendra Chahal, Adam Zampa, Shahbaz Ahmed, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Kane Richardson, Harshal Patel, Glenn Maxwell, Sachin Baby, Rajat Patidar, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Kyle Jamieson, Daniel Christian, Suyash Prabhudessai, KS Bharat
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