The IPL season made its eagerly anticipated return when Rutaraj Gaikwad powered Chennai Super Kings to a 20-run victory over Mumbai Indians on September 19. The 2021 tournament was suspended back in May following a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases within the bio bubbles of the respective teams. The action has now shifted to the UAE and the second half of the season will be played out over the coming weeks, with the final set for October 15 in Dubai. These are the favourites to lift the trophy:
Chennai Super Kings
Chennai stormed to the top of the IPL table after securing a dramatic victory over reigning champions Mumbai Indians when the IPL returned. They swiftly fell to 24-4 after a dismal start to the innings, and it was effectively 24-5 due to an injury to Ambati Rayudu. CSK were staring down the barrel of a damaging defeat. However, Gaikwad batted stoically throughout the innings for 88 not out from 58 balls to drive his team to a respectable 156-6. Mumbai could only manage 136 wins in response, handing Chennai the win.
CSK are the second most successful team in IPL history, but they struggled when the league moved to the UAE last year, finishing seventh in the eight-team table. Fans may have had a sinking feeling after watching their team struggle in the opening stages of the game against Mumbai, but their eventual victory could be symbolic. The squad is stacked with talent, including MS Dhoni, Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Dwayne Bravo and Faf du Plessis. They have a strong batting unit all the way up to number 11, so it is easy to see why they are the outright favourites to win the IPL in the current cricket betting odds.
Delhi were sitting at the top of the IPL standings when the season was postponed. That is impressive when you consider that they were missing first-choice captain Shreyas Iyer. He is now back in business, which should bolster the team and afford more freedom to Marcus Stoinis and Shimron Hetmyer in the lower order. Avesh Khan is in magnificent form, while Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje bring a great deal of firepower to proceedings. RV Ashwin and Axar Patel have recently been selected for India’s T20 team, which should give them confidence.
Delhi Capitals have a terrific young group of players, led by an astute tactician in Ricky Ponting, and they are also in with a great chance of success. They are the current second favourites to win the IPL, and deservedly so. They have already beaten Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians this season, and it will be fascinating to see them face those teams again in early October.
Mumbai Indians are the most successful team in IPL history, so it is no surprise to see them listed among the favourites to triumph this year. They won the IPL in 2019 and 2020, so they are bidding for an historic treble this time around. Mumbai Indians slipped down to fourth in the points table after losing to Chennai Super Kings on September 19, but they should still have enough quality to make the playoffs. After all, this team has won the IPL in five of the past eight seasons, and it has only failed to make the playoffs four times since the tournament began in 2008.
Mumbai retained 10 of the 11 players that won the IPL in the UAE last year, and their experience could prove crucial in the weeks ahead. Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya struggled in the first half of the season, so they will need to return to the peak of their powers. Yet captain Rohit Sharma, Rahul Chahar, and Kieron Pollard have been in fine form, and Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult should wreak havoc in the next few games. Mumbai missed injured duo Rohit and Pandya in the defeat to Chennai, but the team should improve when they return. Mumbai are currently third in the IPL 2021 outright betting odds, and they look capable of enjoying another successful season.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
RCB look poised to join Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai in the knockout stage of the tournament this year. They sit third in the standings after winning five of their first eight games of the season, and they have already clinched nail-biting wins against Delhi and Mumbai. RCB have never won an IPL title, but this could be the year in which they finally bring joy to their long-suffering fans.
The legendary Virah Kohli opens with the hottest youngster in India right now, Devdutt Padikkal. A middle order duo of AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell is positively terrifying, with the potential to rapidly turn any game on its head. The bowling unit looks settled too, with Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj and Kyle Jamieson all capable of punishing their opponents. Yuzi Chazal has gone off the boil somewhat, but if he can return to his best form, RCB could prove unstoppable.