Every cricket fan is waiting for the 14th edition of the Indian T20 League to begin. Though the previous edition was completed only four months ago, the hype for the 2021 season has been high. The last season was played in the UAE behind closed doors due to the global pandemic. However, this time, the league will take place back in India. All the eight teams will once again fight it out for the coveted trophy and in the process, entertain the audience.
Last year, Mumbai stood out as the best team in the tournament and won the trophy for a record fifth time. A mini-auction took place a month ago, resulting in some changes in the line-ups of the eight teams. Every team tried to cover up their weak points from the previous seasons and seemed reasonably happy with their respective squads.
Indian T20 League is the most competitive league in the world and every team will need to give its best shot to win the title. After the completion of the group stages, only the top four teams make it to the playoffs and stand a chance to win the trophy.
So let’s take a look at the 4 teams that are most likely to qualify for the playoffs in 2021:
Mumbai, who won the title in the last two editions (2019 and 2020), will go into this season as favorites once again. The team looks pretty settled with the bases covered in all the departments, similar to their last year’s squad.
They have a strong line-up, consisting of both Indian and overseas players. In the batting department, skipper Rohit Sharma and wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock are at the top of the order, while Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav make up the middle order. All-rounders like the Pandya brothers and Pollard will come in at the end to finish things up.
Mumbai has one of the best pace attacks in the league with the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult and Nathan Coulter-Nile on the team. Adam Milne is the latest entry into this department. Hence, it will not be a surprise that they will make it to the playoffs this time too.
The Hyderabad-based team is a very balanced side and has given consistent performances for the last five years. They have qualified for the playoffs in every season since their title-winning year of 2016.
Most of the players, who took the team to a third place finish in the last year’s edition, have been retained for this year. The team has hard-hitting batsmen like skipper David Warner, Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow at the top of the order, while Kane Williamson, and Manish Pandey provide solidity in the middle order. All-rounders like Mohammad Nabi and Jason Holder bring great balance to the team.
In bowling, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, T Natrajan and Rashid Khan make up a powerful bowling attack. The mystery spin of Mujeeb Ur Rahman is also added to the already-strong bowling line-up this year. Therefore, it will be surprising if the Hyderabad team does not make it to the playoffs this season.
For the past couple of seasons, the Delhi-based franchise has been one of the most improved sides in the league. From being at the bottom place of the points table for a long time, the team has finished third and runners-up in the 2019 and 2020 editions, respectively. However, a few days ago, the team received a major setback when their regular captain, Shreyas Iyer, was ruled out of the upcoming edition of the tournament due to a shoulder injury. Thus, Rishabh Pant will lead the side this year.
Nevertheless, the combination of talented youngsters mixed with a few experienced players has worked wonders for the team. The team has a strong top order consisting of Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw and Ajinkya Rahane, and powerful hitters like skipper Rishabh Pant, Shimron Hetmyer and Marcus Stoinis in the middle order. The team has roped in the services of Steve Smith, Sam Billings, Tom Curran and Umesh Yadav in this year’s auction.
In the bowling department, Ishant Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Chris Woakes make up a quality pace attack. The spin attack is also strong with Amit Mishra, Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin in the squad. The team will look to go one step further and win their maiden trophy in this year’s edition of the league.
The Yellow Army has been one of the strongest and most consistent sides in the league’s history. Led by the talismanic MS Dhoni, the team has won the trophy three times and has made an appearance in eight finals. They missed out on making it to the playoffs for the first time in their history in the 2020 edition.
The absence of key players like Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh and Dwayne Bravo impacted the team’s performance last season. The team looks more settled this year with the likes of Faf du Plessis, Robin Uthappa and Ruturaj Gaikwad at the top, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu and MS Dhoni in the middle order, and all-rounders like Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo and Sam Curran providing balance to the team.
The pace department will consist of Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur and Lungi Ngidi. The new entrants Krishnappa Gowtham and Moeen Ali will provide support to Imran Ntahir in the spin department. If the rumors of this being Dhoni’s last season are true, he would want to ensure that he finishes his league career in style and on a high.
Howzat will be hosting all the matches from the Indian T20 League in the coming days. You can get access to match predictions and the latest news on the Howzat blog. Download the app now, make your fantasy league team & start winning every day!