India’s carnival of cricket finally returns home as season 14 of the Indian Premier League kicks off on the 9th of April in Chennai. After a dominant performance in the UAE, the Mumbai Indians are looking to make it 3 titles in 3 years in 2021 while the rest of the field will look to catch up with the 5-time champions and stake their claim on the trophy. Plenty of other sub-plots make this season incredibly exciting including whether Glenn Maxwell and RCB can finally reverse their IPL fortunes or if MS Dhoni and CSK can forget the troubles of 2020 and have one final swansong in the toughest T20.
Anything can happen over the course of the next two months but today our sports writers at Man’s Life give their predictions on how they think IPL 2021 will unfold and who they believe will have their hand on the trophy on the 30th of May in Ahmedabad.
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Q) Will any team be able to stop the Mumbai juggernaut?
Shivaan: On paper, no team is as strong as the Mumbai Indians and I believe they will make it three in a row in 2021. However, their road to victory may not be as straightforward as it was in the UAE and I see SRH, in particular, giving them a run for their money.
Suhail: It’s a VERY tough ask especially with the neutral venues as well. Mumbai are the only side with a win % of over 60% in 3 out of the 4 venues and have that balance again. I think Sunrisers are a dark horse this season and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Punjab Kings up there as a real threat! A new winner would be good wouldn’t it?? 🙂
Q) Which other three teams will make the playoffs?
Shivaan: As I alluded to earlier, I back SRH to make it five playoff runs out of five. The other two teams that will make the final four will be the Delhi Capitals and the Punjab Kings.
Suhail: Sunrisers, Punjab Kings and either DC, CSK (depending on where MSD bats and Raina’s form) or RCB
Q) Will Glenn Maxwell finally be able to fire in the IPL?
Shivaan: I do think The Big Show will have his best IPL season since 2014 this year, but I don’t think he will be worth the money they spent on him and I don’t see RCB making it to the final four.
Suhail: I would have loved to say yes especially if they were playing all home games at Chinnaswamy but I think we’ll see 3 good knocks and more towards the latter half (RCB play their last 5 games at Eden Gardens which should be a run-fest).
Q) Which overseas pacer will be the best value for money out of Chris Morris, Jhye Richardson and Kyle Jamieson?
Shivaan: I expect Jhye Richardson to have a great season with Punjab but I think Chris Morris will bring more value to the RR squad with his death overs bowling and his batting down the order.
Suhail: Chris Morris to start given his prior IPL experience but Jamieson as an all-rounder by the end.
Q) One unexpected player, whom you think will have a standout season?
Shivaan: Watch out for Moeen Ali this season, I think he will have a big role to play for CSK as a floater with the bat and with his off-spin in the middle overs. I am also intrigued to see how Marco Jansen goes for the Mumbai Indians. They usually never get it wrong with their selection and he is an extremely exciting prospect who I hope gets a few games for the champions. Liam Livingstone also has great upside with the bat and I am hoping he gets a few games.
Suhail: I would love to see Dan Christian be utilised well and think he’s at a stage where he brings a lot to the table. Also, will be great to see what MSD does to extract the best out of K Gowtham and Moeen Ali. We’ve seen the best versions of players come out at CSK and I think both these men have been underutilised in their IPL franchises.
Q) Will MS Dhoni be able to roll back the years and have one final swansong?
Shivaan: A firm NO from me. While you can argue he was rusty in IPL 2020 after lockdown, I saw nothing of note which gives me confidence that MS Dhoni will have a vintage year in 2021. I don’t think we will see the helicopter in full swing ever again, unfortunately.
Q) Orange Cap winner?
Shivaan: David Warner has already won three Orange Caps in IPL history and my money is on him to make it a fourth in 2021.
Suhail: KL Rahul or Virat Kohli as an opener.
Q) Purple Cap winner?
Shivaan: Kagiso Rabada took the Purple Cap home in the UAE and could make it two in two this season with the Delhi Capitals.
Suhail: Rashid Khan or Bumrah.
Q) Player of the tournament?
Shivaan: If Andre Russell puts his 2020 injury troubles behind him, we could see another vintage season from the Jamaican All-Rounder that wins him his third MVP award in IPL history.
Suhail: If RCB can finally break the shackles and go close to winning the title – Virat Kohli as opener could change the season. Hardik Pandya (if fit to bowl the whole season) is my outside shout.
[Image Credit: IPL – Indian Premier League]