The Vivo Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 begins season 14 under different and difficult circumstances tonight. Although the games are played in India, no team has home ground advantage this year, which makes this season exciting.
Another exciting feature this season is that most teams are looking balanced on paper this season. Though some overseas replacements are yet to arrive, for example, Jason Roy and Jason Behrendorff, most players are out of quarantine and have begun practising with their teams. While two players have tested positive and are in isolation, the rest of the league continue to adhere to Covid-19 protocols. Despite a partial lockdown in Maharashtra, the state government has given permission matches to go as per schedule.
This season’s opening match will see the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) taking on the defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) in Chennai on Friday. Both teams have some big names with squads. The teams stand shoulder to shoulder when it comes to their batsmen and all-rounders. However, when it comes to bowling, Mumbai has the upper hand over Bangalore.
Many fans are waiting to witness Australian power-hitter Glenn Maxwell’s debut in RCB colours. Maxwell had a forgettable season last year where he did not hit a single six nor a fifty. He will be looking to prove his haters wrong and justify the price tag RCB paid to get him.
Talking of price tags, another RCB big buy – New Zealand fast bowler Kyle Jamieson – will make his IPL debut today. Jamieson was the second-costliest buy in this season’s IPL auction followed by Maxwell. Unlike Maxwell, Jamieson is yet to prove his mettle in the IPL. While RCB has a stacked squad, their death bowling continues to be the biggest problem. Former RCB pacer and South African legend Dale Steyn pointed out that the team’s biggest problem will be their death bowling. However, youngsters like Devdutt Padikkal and Kerala’s Mohammed Azharuddeen will look to make a name for themselves this year.
On the other hand, Mumbai Indians has one of the best bowling lineups this season along with Sunrisers Hyderabad. These were the only two teams he did not have to do much at the auction this year. Their batting looks quite strong and bowling is also looking up to the mark. There are not many chinks in their armour. However, Mumbai will hope their players remain fit throughout the tournament. Last year, Mumbai missed Rohit Sharma's services for a few games after he suffered a hamstring injury. However, he made his return just before the playoffs and helped the team lift their fifth trophy.
Both teams try to outdo each other when they come face to face making it a riveting contest. Mumbai will want to break the jinx as they have lost their first games in the past few seasons. To add to that, Mumbai has the squad and opportunity to win a hattrick of IPL titles. They won the title in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020. On the other hand, RCB will look to clinch their maiden title this year.
The pandemic has made it difficult for players as they have to stay in bio bubbles and have to follow Covid-19 protocols. Players need to take extra precautions this year as India is going through a second Covid-19 wave.