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Sunday, 24 October 2021 8.21 PM IST

IPL 2021: DC, CSK and RCB sit pretty on points table as MI and rest look to spring surprise

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DUBAI: The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 is all set to resume on Sunday with Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) locking horns against each other. Before the season got suspended earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the season was proving to be unlike any other as three teams were storming ahead in the race to reach the playoffs --Delhi Capitals, Chennai Super Kings, and Royal Challengers Bangalore.

These three teams are all but certain of reaching the playoffs after cementing the first three spots in the points table. Rishabh Pant-led DC has 12 points from 8 games and the side needs to win two more matches to cement a playoff spot. CSK and RCB have 10 points each from seven games and they need to win three more out of their remaining seven matches to reach the playoff stage.
If there are no surprises, then it is safe to say that the battle will be between five teams to seal the fourth spot in the points table.
Currently, defending champions Mumbai Indians hold the fourth spot with eight points while the fifth and sixth-placed Rajasthan Royals and Punjab Kings have six points each. Kolkata Knight Riders and SunRisers Hyderabad are at the seventh and eighth places with four and two points respectively and both these teams face an uphill task to reach the playoff stage.
Delhi Capitals will be confident of securing the top spot and the side would be buoyed by the return of Shreyas Iyer, who had missed the first leg due to injury. Chris Woakes has pulled out of the tournament due to personal reasons, but the side need not worry as the pace bowling depth is solid with the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Ishant Sharma, Tushar Deshpande available within the ranks.

Virat Kohli's RCB was going great guns with new signing Glenn Maxwell becoming the side's highest run-getter at the halfway stage, and he shared the batting workload with Kohli and AB de Villiers. If the trio rises to the occasion then RCB could go all the way this year. Mike Hesson would be donning the hat of the head coach as well and there are some new replacements in the form of Wanindu Hasaranga, Dushmantha Chameera and the side looks good too at least reach the playoff stage.
Unlike 2020, CSK had an amazing start to the IPL 2021 campaign as Moeen Ali gave a new life to the struggling batting lineup. However, the MS Dhoni-led outfit would be wary of their performance in the UAE last year, and hence, it would be interesting to see how the three-time IPL winners resume their campaign.
It is hard to write off Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai Indians and despite just having eight points right now, the defending champions would look to come out all guns blazing and rattle the opposition. The side has everyone available and with Jasprit Bumrah hitting his stride against England in the Test series, the franchise would be confident of reaching the playoffs and making the bid for defending their crown.
Rajasthan Royals, Punjab Kings, KKR, and SRH are the four teams who currently find themselves in the bottom half of the points table and it would be interesting to see how they perform under pressure. All these four franchises have a knack of tinkering with their lineup and this is the prime reason, these four sides find themselves where they are.
SRH has a new captain in the form of Kane Williamson, however, with Jonny Bairstow pulling out, David Warner is all but certain to resume his duties as an opening batsman. How the equation between Williamson and Warner plays out, would be interesting to see.
KKR does not have a solid opening partnership and with the likes of Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell not being consistent enough in the IPL, it is hard for anyone to take a gamble on them. Brendon McCullum and Morgan are two people who are associated with the firebrand of cricket, but KKR has struggled to play this particular brand and hence they find themselves at the seventh spot.
Rajasthan has a few replacements -- world number one T20I bowler Tabraiz Shamsi being one of them. It would be interesting to see how Sanju Samson leads an outfit that does not have Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, and Jofra Archer available. Punjab Kings has a knack for producing their best when the back is against the wall, and it needs to be seen whether the KL Rahul side does the same this time round.

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