The 14th edition of the Indian Premier League returns to India this season with Mumbai Indians the defending champions Mumbai Indians the team to beat once again. MI could become the first team to lift the trophy three times in a row and, after picking up five titles in the last eight seasons, all eyes will be on them when they take on Royal Challengers Bangalore in the tournament opener in Chennai on 9 April.
The 60-match event culminates in a final at the 110,000 capacity Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on 30 May.
Latest IPL Predictions
IPL 2021 Guide
THE EIGHT TEAMS
CHENNAI SUPER KINGS
2010, 2011, 2018
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS
2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2020
ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE
2nd 2009, 2011, 2016
Just the one difference in the eight teams featuring at IPL 2021 and that is cosmetic as Kings XI Punjab return as the renamed Punjab Kings.
IPL Returns to India
After an enforced delay to an autumn edition in the UAE last year, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) were understandably keen to bring the tournament back to their own cricket-crazed fans.
The return of the IPL to India sees a few differences to the norm:
- All matches at neutral venues with no side playing at home.
- The initial stages will be played behind closed doors with a decision to be made on whether to allow spectators entry at later dates.
- Six grounds used with Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru staging 10 matches each and Ahmedabad and Delhi hosting eight apiece.
- Matches in Kolkata will come later in the league phase due to local elections during the early weeks.
- Each team will play matches at four out of the six venues during the league phase.
- Each side will only travel three times during the league stage.
- 11 doubleheader days where 6 teams play three early matches and two sides play twice in the afternoon
- Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, the world’s largest cricket ground, will host the final and all playoff games.
Nautural Venues Will Not Please Them All
The sides that have built their squads around home ground conditions are potentially hamstrung this season in the same way they were in the UAE.
The IPL mini-auction on 18 February saw CSK stock up on spinners only to see the IPL’s fixture announcement three weeks later dictating they play 10 of 14 group games on the relatively flat tracks of Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata instead of the turning tracks at their Chepauk Stadium.
The Sunrisers’ Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman should prosper with 9 of their early matches in Chennai and Delhi and last season’s runners-up Delhi Capitals play early games in Ahmedabad and Chennai where Ashwin and Axar Patel should thrive.
Kolkata has a balanced squad, whereas Virat Kohli’s RCB will potentially rue spending big on Kiwi speedster Kyle Jamieson with seven games on slow surfaces in Chennai.
Mumbai Indians have all bases covered in their title defence but have a strong pace unit for their Wankhede Stadium and may have to adapt to the spin-friendly tracks of Delhi and Chennai.
Who Will Win the IPL in 2021?
We saw in the UAE last season that neutral grounds became a great leveller and produced the tightest ever league phase and plenty of close contests. The frustration some sides may feel at having to play on neutral grounds once again could lead to tremendous competition for spectators.
Mumbai Indians showed their all-round strength in 2020 and they have every chance of taking their sixth title this time around. You would be a brave man to back against them.