One player from each team to be in focus
The 14th season of the Indian Premier League is ready to be staged from 9th April. After organizing the last edition outside India, the BCCI decided to bring back the league to its origin. Once again, the league will be a platform for new records, broken dreams, unforgettable memories. Once again, many cricketers from across the cricket world will be scrutinized for every action on and off the field.
While the IPL will always allow newcomers to shine, a few familiar names will be looking to regain old glory. With the T20I Cricket World Cup scheduled to be hosted later this year, this year’s IPL is a way for many cricketers to be noticeable to the selectors. Here we are looking at one cricketer from each team who will be in focus throughout the 2021 IPL.
Suryakumar Yadav is a familiar name in IPL and has been serving Mumbai Indians successfully for quite a sometime now. In recent years, one of the most improved Indian batsmen, Surya Kumar Yadav, made his international T20 debut last month. He was a regular for KKR between 2014 to 2017, but his career had an overhaul after Mumbai Indians signed him in the 2018 auction.
They started using him as a top-order batsman, and that was when Yadav started to show his true class. He continued his good form and delivered 400-plus runs in both the following seasons, which Mumbai Indians won. His audacious hitting surprised the fans and experts alike. Because of his recent India debut, SKY will have extra attention this time.
Chennai Super Kings
Ravindra Jadeja is one of the finest allrounders in contemporary cricket. Even in the last IPL amid the CSK disaster, Jadeja was the fourth-highest scorer for Chennai Super Kings with 232 runs in 14 games with a strike rate of 171.85 and took six wickets at an economy of 8.75.
However, Jadeja was last seen in international cricket against Australia in December 2020. Since then, he has been out of action following an injury and surgery. The strong reserve of the Indian cricket did not feel his absence this far. But the fans would love to see him T20I World Cup. Jadeja needs to utilize this platform well to cement place yet again in the squad.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
The Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli is arguably the greatest player of this generation. He has been a mainstay of Royal Challengers Bangalore for the last 13 seasons of IPL now but yet to hold the trophy.
The RCB captain has so far scored 5878 runs in this tournament, the highest run aggregate, and in 2016 he scored 973 runs with four centuries and crossed fifty in 11 out of his 16 matches. Nobody has been able to score more than him in an IPL edition. Kohli is currently in good form and the most run-scorer of IPL across all seasons will be aiming for the maiden trophy for RCB before getting prepared for the coveted T20 WC.
Kolkata Knight Riders
One of the most promising batsmen in Indian cricket, Shubman Gill, impressed one and all in the recent Test series against Australia. However, he is yet to adapt to T20 cricket. Last year, the youngster scored 440 runs with a strike rate of just 117.96, which is a matter of concern and the onus of maximizing the powerplay overs stays on the top-order. He was one of the consistent batsmen from his side but had the worst strike rate among the openers who opened in at least 14 games.
This IPL will be important for Gill to prove his worth even in this format, especially with the T20 World Cup nearby. When it comes to KKR, the franchise will be looking up to the youngster for some fireworks at the top.
Pant, after having a mediocre IPL, came back stronger in the last six months. He made a comeback in the Test team and started delivering one after other memorable performances across all three formats. Currently, Rishabh Pant is one of the national team’s key members, especially due to the off-form of KL Rahul.
Due to a freak injury, Shreyas Iyer had to leave IPL this year, and the DC management decided to rely Pant with the role despite having some of the industry’s biggest names with Shikhar Dahwan Ravichandran Ashwin, and Steve Smith. Pant will be aware of the added pressure, but Pant is not new to captaincy as such. With the prior experience of captaining Delhi at the state level, an in-form Rishabh Pant is expected to pass the tests with flying colours.
KL Rahul used to be considered the top T20 batsman of the Indian cricket team, ahead of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. However, since cricket resumed, he seemed to be struggling with his form. In the recently concluded ODI series against England, KL Rahul looked in sync again and ended as India’s highest run-scorer.
With the T20I World Cup knocking at the door, KL Rahul will be focusing on having a good IPL. He will be under focus as he will be leading Punjab Kings for the second time, after having a disappointing debut season as skipper. As a batsman, KL Rahul scored 600-plus runs in two out of his last three seasons, including 17 fifties and two hundred. The Orange Cap holder in IPL 2020 will be expecting to lead the team with example again.
During England’s India tour, Jonny Bairstow was the fourth-highest run-scorer for England in the T20I series. He was at his best in the 50-overs leg with 219 runs in three matches with one hundred and as many as fifty. Bairstow, who is used to open for Sunrisers Hyderabad and their captain, David Warner, smashed 345 runs in 11 IPL games last year.
Bairstow, ahead of the IPL, mentioned that IPL would work as a platform to secure a seat in the England national side for the upcoming World Cup. While the Hyderabad side will depend a lot on this overseas star to provide good starts at the tournament, this will be an important IPL for Bairstow.
Ben Stokes was not available for the entire IPL 2020 due to his father’s illness. He played only eight matches but made an impact with 285 runs with a strike rate of 142.50, including a hundred and one fifty. His bowling was not that effective as well. He could bowl only 15 overs and went on to scalp only two wickets in the tournament.
Stokes, one of the best contemporary allrounders at present, was also a mainstay of the English touring party early in the year, playing in all three formats. He was the second most run-getter from the visiting side after Bairstow in the ODI series. Stokes looked ready for the IPL and would be eager to serve his old franchise.