Halfway review as the season is paused
Halfway review as the season is paused
Despite all the best efforts from BCCI and the franchises, COVID has the final say as the IPL 2021 has been suspended indefinitely. Before this decision was taken, exactly half of the IPL was completed, with 29 matches played in four different venues. The league table started to take shape as the strengths and weaknesses were apparent for the various teams.
The Hyderabad franchise is currently at the 8th spot and already had a change of captaincy midway of the season. The regular spark was missing from David Warner’s batting, and captaincy and his comment regarding lack of control in various team selection decisions resulted in Kane Williamson becoming the captain before the 7th match. However, this did not change the result and languished at the bottom with 1 win from 7 matches. Jonny Bairstow was their best player as the English wicket-keeper batter provided a good start in almost every match. Rashid Khan was also on the money in most encounters, but they suffered due to the poor form and inconsistency of their Indian middle order and pace bowlers. Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s injury also did not help, as were some key team selection calls like dropping Jason Holder even after getting a three-wicket haul.
Kolkata Knight Riders
KKR started with a win against Sunrisers Hyderabad, but their next win in these seven matches came against Punjab Kings, the team sitting just above them at the table. Against the in-form teams, KKR failed to perform and faced heart-breaking defeat. Their defeat against Mumbai Indians after being in a strong position was a big blow, and they could not recover. The tempo of their openers was a big talking point for this IPL as they failed to utilize the Powerplay properly. Shubman Gill was completely out of touch, but Nitish Rana and Rahul Tripathi showed some spark. Even their overseas superstars also failed to perform consistently. They were few glimpses from Pat Cummins and Andre Russell, but those were not enough, and hence KKR looked pretty mediocre in most of the matches. Captain Eoin Morgan’s captaincy was also a big talking point as he also was out of touch.
Punjab Kings’ performance replicated their regular pattern. Their batting was strong, but the bowling continued to disappoint despite investing big money on bowlers in the last auction. KL Rahul was one of the most consistent batters in the IPL, and he was also in the hunt for Orange Cap with two 90-plus scores before he had to go through surgery. His ability and willingness to push the run rate were questioned, but with players like Chris Gayle and Deepak Hooda in the middle, Rahul had the luxury to play as an anchor. Bowling remained their Achilles’ heel in this season too. The inclusion of Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith did not impact their performance much. Mohammed Shami was also off-radar in most of the matches. Also, their decision not to play Ravi Bishnoi in the first few matches was a big surprise.
Royals started their campaign with a heart-breaking loss when their new captain Sanju Samson’s brilliant century could not take them to a win in a huge chase. Overall, Samson batted with much more maturity this season than others and got support from their big stars like Chris Morris and Jos Buttler. However, Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes’s unavailability was a big blow for them, and they also missed other overseas stars like Liam Livingstone and Andrew Tye, who left midway. They had to use their overseas backup options, and some of them did deliver. Mustafizur Rahman played regularly for them and was successful for them. They would also be pleased by the performance of Chetan Sakariya. The young fast bowler from Saurashtra was one of the finds of this tournament and bowled well consistently.
The defending champion again started the season with a loss and did not look in their dominating self in the first few matches. They lost three of their first five matches but started to look dangerous in their last two games. The lack of form for their middle-order batters was a big concern for them, except Rohit Sharma at the top and Surya Kumar Yadav, no other batter, performed consistently. The lack of form of Hardik and Krunal Pandya was a blow to them. Ishan Kishan was dropped after the first few matches, and their last two wins came thanks to individual brilliance from Quinton de Kock and Kieron Pollard. Their bowling looked in better shape, and Josprit Bumrah and Trent Boult led the pack well. Rahul Chahar enjoyed the pitches in Chennai in their first few matches and one of the highest wicket-taker in the season. They also used Jayant Yadav regularly, especially against oppositions with many left-handed batters.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Bangalore was a revelation this season. They had a good 2020 and further build on it. The inclusion of Glenn Maxwell was a great advantage for them as the Australian big-hitter took lots of pressure from Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. De Villiers was in brilliant form for them and delivered two match-winning performances. Devdutt Padikkal also provided glimpses of his talent and showed his growth as a top-order batter. Their other big-money signing, Kyle Jamieson, also performed steadily and was most effective with the ball. Another player who showed lots of maturity was Mohammed Siraj. The fast bowler led the attack efficiently, and it showed that his stint with the national team helped him grow. Harshal Patel was a big star for them as the Indian pacer started the season with a five-wicket haul against Mumbai remained the holder of the Purple Cap with 17 wickets.
Chennai Super Kings
CSK did not have a great 2020 season, and the effectiveness of their aged stars was questioned regularly during the last season. This year, they showed their maturity as they brought some new stars to perform regularly to take them to the winning ways. Faf du Plessis and Ravindra Jadeja were their top two players. Du Plessis, at one end, kept providing good starts to them with his balanced batting, whereas Jadeja proved to be a true all-rounder contributing with the bat, ball, and on the field. He single-handedly won the match against RCB, where his 50 included 36 runs in one over, and he followed it with three wickets and a runout. Jadeja can be a very good captain option for building the team around young players like Sam Curran and Ruturaj Gaikwad. Gaikwad is a big find for them this season as the free-flowing openers played some brilliant knocks.
Capitals remained the strongest side in year’s IPL as the perfect mix of youth and experience helped them deliver consistently. They were missing their regular captain Shreyas Iyer, but that did not impact their performance. The opening partnership of Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw was the best opening combination of this season as Dhawan played the Anchor’s role and currently holding the Orange Cap. On the other hand, Shaw played some explosive knocks and took them to win single-handedly in few matches. Their new captain Rishabh Pant maintained his good form and also proved to be a good captain. Avesh Khan surprised everyone with his bounce and pace and was in the second position in the race for purple cap. He, along with Kagiso Rabada and Amit Mishra, led a strong Capitals bowling lineup. They even had the luxury of not using Anrich Nortje even once this season.