IPL 2021: 8 franchises facing 8 challenges – After a long break, the Indian Premier League’s 14th edition returns with the familiar UAE settings and eight franchises are faced with unique challenges. If MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings (CSK) want to overcome the UAE ghosts of 2020, the Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) are still chasing an IPL title while Rohit Sharma’s Mumbai Indians (MI) aim the middle-order’s consistency.
For others, problems aplenty. Punjab Kings’s top-heavy batting line-up hasn’t helped while their bowling have left a lot to desire. For Delhi Capitals, everything seems perfect but they too have had inconsistency in middle-order. For Rajasthan Royals, it is about getting a new-look team ready for the big challenge.
SRH and KKR have both found themselves in unfamiliar territory. If SRH had controversially dropped their best player David Warner to the bench, KKR’s captain Eoin Morgan has failed to fire in any while their flailing batting and Andre Russell’s batting form left a lot of unanswered questions.
But before the IPL 2021 resumes, InsideSport takes a look at 8 problems the teams.
Delhi Capitals (DC): Inconsistent middle-order: On the top of the table despite missing their captain Shreyas Iyer in the first half may seem a good return but they are not without any problems. Iyer’s return creates a selection conundrum for Rishabh Pant. He will have to choose between his former captain and one of the best batsmen of the generation Steve Smith. But it is the inconsistency in the middle-order that will need fixing.
- In Shreyas Iyer’s absence, in 8 matches the batsmen at No 3 & 4 have scored a combined 312 runs with 5 batsmen trying out the positions.
- The inconsistency from Ajinkya Rahane, Steve Smith and even Rishabh Pant at the two positions hasn’t helped.
- But with Iyer’s return, DC’s headache will be on who to bench and whether Steve Smith can be brought at expense of a bowler.
Chennai Super Kings (CSK): MS Dhoni’s form: Placed second on the points table, MS Dhoni-led CSK have regained their form after an abysmal 2020 campaign. But it is their captain’s form that has worried the team. Dhoni has scored at an average of just 12.33. The sheer lack of confidence in his batting is evident as the former Indian skipper has chosen to bat at No 7 instead of promoting himself up the order. As Dhoni takes more time to settle, he can no longer play the finisher’s role and that is where CSK have struggled.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB): 4 new foreign players: Virat Kohli-led RCB started well to be placed at No 3 but they have a history of inconsistency. Furthermore, in the second phase, they will have four new foreign players who will need to settle in quickly in just three days time.
Mumbai Indians (MI): Hardik Pandya mystery: Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai Indians have been unaffected by the mid-season transfers. But it is Hardik Pandya’s form and fitness that remains the biggest challenge. He didn’t bowl a single over in IPL 2021 Phase 1 while failed with the bat. Since then, he has returned to bowling but has struggled with the bat. The others in middle-order too haven’t fired consistently and it could impact their title defence.
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Rajasthan Royals (RR): Inconsistency all over: While they will have 3 new foreign players in the Playing XI, it will be their inconsistency that they will be most concerned about. Sanju Samson did bat consistently in the latter half of the IPL 2021 phase 1 but they will miss Jos Buttler while the bowling department will have a new face in Tabraiz Shasmi with Liam Livingstone also returning. The new opening combination will have to gel early while a lot of consistent results will be needed in their remaining 7 matches.
Punjab Kings (PBKS): Top-heavy batting: Take KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal out and Punjab Kings’ runs will dry up significantly. There will be no Dawid Malan or the two pacers and PBKS stare at yet another disappointing campaign. The likes of Nicholas Pooran, Chris Gayle, Shahrukh Khan haven’t had a successful season while with the ball apart from Mohammed Shami, there isn’t much to write home about.
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR): Poor form: Eoin Morgan-led KKR have suffered from poor form of players. Not only opener Shubman Gill, skipper Eoin Morgan, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, inconsistent Rahul Tripathi, but Shakib Al Hasan all also have had a poor campaign. Furthermore, they will be without Pat Cummins and will lack batting depth. To turn around, Eoin Morgan first of all must return to form along with Shubman Gill and Andre Russell to have a chance of a turnaround.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Strange decisions: Sacking skipper David Warner is one decision but dropping their best batsman is the other. The feud between Warner and SRH management reached a boiling point. While Kane Williamson did offer a balm, their poor on-field show didn’t help. David Warner must return to the top while filling the gap of Jonny Bairstow will be the other challenge.