IPL 2021 Preview Part 2! – RR’s Hate For Fish, PBKS’ Horror Buys, KKR’s Unique Conundrum And CSK’s Emotions

IPL 2021 Preview Part 2! – RR’s Hate For Fish, PBKS’ Horror Buys, KKR’s Unique Conundrum And CSK’s Emotions

RAJASTHAN ROYALS

So let’s start with my team……yes I own stakes in the team, okay? I’m allowed to say ‘my team’ okay? Anyway….the story of RR in IPL 2021 has been a tale of two time periods. Time Period 1 – Right after the auction. Everybody’s going gaga over them. ‘Top 4 confirmed’ and ‘They’re reaching the finals for sure’ were all music to our ears. And then (insert dramatic drumroll) – Jofra Archer tried to clean his room.

Jofra Archer was cleaning his room when he accidentally dropped a fish tank and injured his hand. Yes. Yes a fish tank is the reason the Rajasthan Royals could not qualify for the playoffs, kids. Don’t laugh, you smug little swordfish.

Honestly though, the team’s entire outlook changes without Jofra Archer. Let’s not forget that Jofra Archer was literally the Most Valuable Player in the IPL last season. I mean, that is the biggest loss there can possibly even be. Before Archer got inspired by the Swachh Bharat campaign, we had 4 overs of Archer-Morris at the top and 4 overs of Archer-Morris at the death. Oh god imagine the scenes. But now that a plump pesky pomfret has worked its magic, we’ll have Morris-Tye or Morris-Tyagi do the same. Not the same, not even close.

The team’s not all about Jofra Archer though. The batting actually looks quite great. I wasn’t aboard the ‘Stokes-the-opener’ train initially, but I’m booking my tickets as we speak because I’ve seen his performances in the middle order in the T20is against India. Opening just seems to be the right position for him in a 20-over game. And the management has hinted that he will be opening too, so that’s great. But what I don’t want is Buttler getting sacrificed because of this. Jos Buttler is hands-down the best T20 opener in the world, fight me. We can’t be wasting him at No.4/No.5, no way. Open with Stokes and Buttler, but the messaging should be just a bit different than last season. Last season, it seemed like they were trying to hit everything beyond the ropes. That’s not them. Their role is just to be them. Buttler is a natural attacker and can play those cheeky shots while sleepwalking in the middle of the night with his pyjamas on, but Stokes on the other hand needs some time. That’s the reason why he’s been so successful as a middle order player in ODIs but not in T20s, is because he gets that extra bit of time in the middle when he’s playing the extra format. So honestly, if I was in the management, my advice to Stokes would just be to approach it as he does an ODI game when he comes in at around the 30 over mark. Build the innings, and go hard whenever you’re comfortable enough.

The most exciting part of this team is definitely the captain. Sanju Samson, not a moment after getting dropped from the national team finds himself captaining an IPL side. He definitely has lots to prove. If he fails this season, I think it’s safe to say his international career is over. That’s not an exaggeration because the likes of Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan, and Suryakumar Yadav have just jumped on the chances they got, and displayed outstanding performances while Sanju has been underwhelming throughout his on-and-off international career. The aforementioned names have definitely replaced Sanju in the Indian t20 squad for now, but if he can put up a 500-run season, and show that he can also play with maturity, that he can be consistent with those swashbuckling 70s and 80s he scores, that he can take up responsibility and excel under pressure, then who knows.

RR also have great batting depth. The middle order is both a matter of pride and a matter of concern though. Manan Vohra, Shivam Dube, Riyan Parag and Rahul Tewatia are all brilliant cricketers and youngsters. It’s great that RR have trusted them with this responsibility and will probably back them a whole lot throughout the season. But they can’t exactly be relied on to consistently finish off games and get them through in crunch situations. Dube has been great in the domestic circuit, but somehow has never worked in the IPL with a batting average of just 17. Riyan has been scoring one amazing fifty but then disappearing for two seasons now. Manan is a great player and he has also done well in the IPL in the past, buthe has been sitting on the bench for RR for the past 3 years, so I don’t know how rusty he might be. No issues with King Tewatia. For a No.7, he’s as good as they come.

Probable XI

1.            Jos Buttler*

2.            Ben Stokes*

3.            Sanju Samson

4.            Manan Vohra

5.            Shivam Dube

6.            Riyan Parag

7.            Rahul Tewatia

8.            Chris Morris*

9.            Shreyas Gopal

10.          Andrew Tye*

11.          Kartik Tyagi

KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS

The Kolkata Knight Riders have a chance at a hat-trick of No.5 finishes this season. They’ve been rather unlucky for the last two seasons, having earnt enough points for a playoff spot, but getting left out because of an inferior net run rate.

The KKR team has a very different problem compared to other teams. Other teams have a lack of lower order batsmen, they have a lack of top order batsmen. Their Top 3 would most likely consist of Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi and Nitish Rana. While these are all extremely good players, they don’t quite hit the same way as most of other Top 3s in this tournament. Honestly, my advice to them would just be – none of you can stay at the crease beyond the 13th over. Hit out or get out by then because whohoooo that lower order. Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik, Andre Russell, possibly even Shakib Al Hasan. That lower middle order is what dreams are made of.

The bowling attack looks quite solid as well, with Cummins being the spearhead, and leading the young trifecta of Mavi, Nagarkoti and Prasidh Krishna, who has now earnt himself a national cap but just never seems to make it to the KKR XI. Pat Cummins is due for a big one this time around, and I think he will deliver too. He seemed to be in the form of his life in the India-Australia test series. The spin department is loaded too, with Varun Chakaravarathy eyeing that spot in the Indian National Team for the first choice spinner, with Chahal recently going out of favour. Kuldeep Yadav and Harbhajan Singh will provide great support, and will be good backups if Varun gets injured, which he has a knack for, by the way. They might even play Sunil Narine, but personally I think his time has passed. It’ll be tough to bench him, because of all of their ‘emotional history’ together, but it just has to be done. If they don’t do it at the start of the season, they’ll have to do it halfway through. There’s no point. JUST DO IT ALREADY.

Probable XI

1.            Shubman Gill

2.            Rahul Tripathi

3.            Nitish Rana

4.            Shakib Al Hasan (Can be pushed down according to the situation)

5.            Eoin Morgan

6.            Dinesh Karthik

7.            Andre Russell (Can be sent up according to the situation)

8.            Pat Cummins

9.            Varun Chakaravarathy

10.          Kamlesh Nagarkoti

11.          Prasidh Krishna

PUNJAB KINGS

Kings XI- Forgive me, Punjab Kings had the highest purse available to them in the auction. Almost 20 crores more than any other franchise. And what do they spend it on? Chris Morris? Shivam Dube? Glenn Maxwell? Shakib Al Hasan? Nahhh man, these are all top players with proven skills that would’ve actually filled the holes their team had. Why would they go for them? They instead shelled out 14 crores for somebody who doesn’t even make his national team, 8 crores for somebody who hasn’t played a single game of international cricket yet. Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith weren’t good picks and you can’t change my mind. Jhye, I get. But Meredith?

A list of bowlers who are not part of any IPL teams and did better than Riley Meredith in the BIG BASH LEAGUE. THE BIG BASH LEAGUE.

1.            Ben Dwarshuis

2.            Mark Steketee

3.            Wes Agar

4.            Tanveer Sangha

5.            Nathan Ellis

6.            Peter Siddle

7.            Scott Boland

8.            Peter Hatzoglou

9.            Jason Behrendorff

And this is just the list for wickets. For bowling average and strike rate, he isn’t even in the top 20. Leave alone playing cricket here, Meredith hasn’t even step foot in the subcontinent! ‘Oh sure, let’s make the guy who struggled against 20 year old part-time cricketers a millionare hahaha’.

Alright. End of rant. Sorry Riley, prove me wrong.

Anyway, you see that Punjab team and all you see is that Top 4. If I had to make a batting dream team, taking one team’s top order and one team’s lower order, the two teams in this blog are combining for sure. KL, Mayank, Gayle, Pooran. Lol. Just name this team RCB already, they already have those red and gold jerseys. Watching this quartet at Chinnaswamy will just be unbelievable. And this RCB actually do play there this season, so…let’s just hope strike rate is overrated no more.

Probable XI

1.            KL Rahul ©️

2.            Mayank Agarwal

3.            Chris Gayle*

4.            Nicholas Pooran*

5.            Mandeep Singh/Deepak Hooda (Hooda if Shah Rukh Khan isn’t confident about his bowling)

6.            Shah Rukh Khan

7.            Chris Jordan*

8.            Jhye Richardson

9.            Ravi Bishnoi

10.          Murugan Ashwin

11.          Mohammad Shami

CHENNAI SUPER KINGS

2020 was the first season when CSK did not qualify for the playoffs. They had a rather woeful season, and would like to forget it as soon as they can. Surprisingly enough, they have managed to assemble quite a decent squad. CSK is probably the toughest team to pick an XI for though. I mean, they have so many options. I have to admit, they’ve planned out their squad quite well.

While a lot of players for any position means a good amount of backups for injury, it also means that the team might look imbalanced. For example, CSK have this whole host of all-rounders, with Jadeja, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Krishnappa Gowtham, Dwayne Bravo, Shardul Thakur being the prime examples. So that means you have one of Jadeja/Moeen/Sam Curran batting at No.8. No.8. No.8. That is a disgrace. Call it batting depth or whatever but that is underutilisation of resources. Plus, they paid 9 crores or therebouts for Krishnappa Gowtham and he probably doesn’t even make it into the XI.

Also, CSK will not get their Chinna Thala back. The Suresh Raina they will get back struggled to reach double figures against state-level domestic bowlers in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. It’s sad to see one of your best fade away like that. But it happens, just ask KKR. But unlike the KKR-Narine case, I know CSK would never drop Raina. They’re weirdly emotional when it comes to washed up cricketers, but strictly logical and practical when it comes to giving younger guys a chance. That’s just how they roll, yo, the dad’s army.

Probable XI

  1. Ruturaj Gaikwad
  2. Faf Du Plessis*
  3. Suresh Raina
  4. Ambati Rayudu
  5. MS Dhoni
  6. Moeen Ali
  7. Ravindra Jadeja
  8. Sam Curran
  9. Dwayne Bravo
  10. Shardul Thakur
  11. Deepak Chahar

So many possibilities….amazing.

Image credits: Times Of India