The Indian Premier League resumes in the UAE with Delhi Capitals sitting at the top of the standings and Sunrisers Hyderabad propping up the table; watch the tournament live on Sky Sports from Sunday with a number of England players, including Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone, to be involved.
Riding high in April, shot down in May.
That was the story of the 2021 Indian Premier League, with the tournament suspended in India in the spring due to a rising number of positive coronavirus cases among the players. The tournament resumes at the weekend in the United Arab Emirates, with 31 of the 60 matches still to be played, starting with Chennai Super Kings against defending champions Mumbai Indians.
Here is what you need to know about this year’s competition so far…
After reaching their first IPL final in 2020, Delhi Capitals impressed again before the 2021 season was suspended, winning six of their eight matches to hold a two-point lead over CSK and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Delhi batsman Shikhar Dhawan is the tournament’s leading run-scorer, with his haul of 380 including three half-centuries. Dhawan’s opening partner Prithvi Shaw also managed a trio of fifties and over 300 runs, while the box-office Rishabh Pant, the Capitals’ captain, has contributed more than 200.
Adding to Delhi’s batting ranks in the UAE is Shreyas Iyer, who missed the early part of the season due to a dislocated shoulder suffered while playing for India against England. Iyer is back now but will not regain the captaincy, with Capitals confirming that Pant will continue to lead the side.
Avesh Khan led the Delhi bowling attack with 14 wickets and was backed up by Kagiso Rabada, Axar Patel and Chris Woakes. The latter will miss the UAE leg with his withdrawal now confirmed, along with those of England colleagues Jos Buttler (Rajasthan Royals), Jonny Bairstow (Sunrisers Hyderabad) and Dawid Malan (Punjab Kings).
THE CHASING PACK
2020 marked the first year in their history in which Chennai failed to make the play-offs with MS Dhoni’s men finishing second bottom.
They did, though, win the last three games and have taken that form into 2021 with five successive victories sandwiched by a defeat to Delhi in their first match and a loss to Mumbai in their last. They had looked on course to beat Mumbai, only for Kieron Pollard’s astonishing hitting in a 34-ball 87 not out helping the Indians to a thrilling last-ball win at Feroz Shah Kotla.
It has been a team effort for CSK but both of their England players have starred, with Sam Curran bagging a team-high nine wickets and Moeen Ali striking over 200 runs from the No 3 spot and chipping in with five wickets. Both will be available once the tournament resumes, as will Faf du Plessis, who registered four fifties in the spring en route to 320 runs.
Chennai are targeting a fourth title over the coming weeks but, like Delhi, Virat Kohli’s RCB are looking for a first, with their best return so far second-placed finishes in 2009, 2011 and 2016. It has been five wins and two defeats in 2021 so far for RCB, who have seen seamer Harshal Patel top the wicket-taking charts with 17, including a five-wicket haul against Mumbai.
RCB, as has always seemingly been the case, possess a power-packed batting unit, with Kohli, AB de Villiers, Glenn Maxwell and Devdutt Padikkal all manging over or just under 200 runs before the suspension. Maxwell topped out with 223 runs as he started to show some consistent IPL form after years of firing fleetingly at other franchises.
Five-time champions Mumbai are fourth at the moment and with no squad alterations, you would expect them to push on as the season progresses, what with Pollard, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, the Pandya brothers and Suryakumar Yadav among the match-winners in their team.
Sunrisers and Kolkata, who have just three wins between them in 14 matches.
Sunrisers’ sole success came against Punjab when Bairstow scored 63, with that win both preceded and followed by three consecutive defeats. David Warner was axed as captain and replaced by Kane Williamson after presiding over five losses in six but Williamson’s tenure also started with a defeat as Jos Buttler slammed 124 for Rajasthan.
Kolkata sit just above Sunrisers – they started their campaign with a 10-run win over Sunrisers but it is now five defeats in six.
There is no talk about a change in captain at Knight Riders with Eoin Morgan at the helm but England’s World Cup-winning skipper will want a change in fortunes over the coming weeks having also overseen over a disappointing campaign for London Spirt in The Hundred.
Highest score – 124 off 64 balls (Jos Buttler, Rajasthan vs Sunrisers)
Most sixes in an innings – 8 (Buttler vs Sunrisers and Pollard for Mumbai vs CSK)
Most sixes in total – 16 (KL Rahul, Punjab Kings)
Fastest hundred – 51 balls (Devdutt Padikkal for RCB vs Rajasthan)
Fastest fifty – 17 balls (Kieron Pollard for Mumbai vs Chennai)
Best bowling figures – 5-15 (Andre Russell for KKR vs Mumbai)
Highest team score – 221-6 (Punjab against Rajasthan)
WHICH ENGLAND PLAYERS ARE STILL AROUND?
Despite the withdrawals of Buttler, Bairstow, Woakes and Malan, plus the continued absence of Rajasthan Royals pair Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer, 10 England players are set to be involved.
KKR skipper Morgan and CSK duo Moeen and Sam Curran will be joined by Sam’s brother Tom and Sam Billings (Delhi), Jason Roy (Sunrisers), Liam Livingstone (Rajasthan), and Chris Jordan (Punjab). Adil Rashid (Punjab) and Sussex seamer George Garton (RCB) will also get their first taste of the IPL having been signed as replacement players.
Livingstone did not play a game for Rajasthan earlier in the campaign and pulled out due to bubble fatigue but he has re-joined the squad in the UAE and could be a key figure after a summer in which he has excelled for England, including hitting a national-record 42-ball century and creaming a monster six out of Emerald Headingley, and also for Hundred runners-up Birmingham Phoenix, where he was the tournament’s leading run-scorer.