Dubai, September 18: The action time begins at the IPL 2021. Defending champions Mumbai Indians will be looking to make a statement against the Chennai Super Kings when the Indian Premier League resumes on Sunday (September 19) at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Four months after the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic in India, the tournament restarts at Dubai International Stadium on Sunday (September 19).
Mumbai, led by Rohit Sharma will be eyeing a third successive title and they had won back-to-back games to move up to fourth place when the decision was made to halt the IPL 2021 and will be out to pick up where they left off against second-placed CSK, captained by MS Dhoni, himself a three-time winner of the IPL.
With India unable to stage the competition, the remainder of the action over the next month will be staged in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.
Delhi Capitals are the franchise to catch at the top of the table, although the Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore are only two points behind them with a game in hand.
MyKhel in association with Stats Perform takes a look at the state of play ahead of the resumption.
What is the schedule and where will the games take place?
There will be 31 matches contested in the space of 27 days and fans will be allowed in to watch, starting with the showdown between two of the top four.
Dubai will stage 13 games, including the final on October 15, with 10 contests taking place in Sharjah and eight in Abu Dhabi.
The first qualifier of the post-season will be played in Dubai on October 10, with the eliminator and second qualifier taking place in Sharjah on October 11 and 13 respectively.
Pant continues to captain leaders Delhi
Delhi lost to Mumbai in the final last year but responded impressively, winning six of eight matches to top the table this season.
They return to action against bottom side Sunrisers Hyderabad in Dubai on Wednesday with Rishabh Pant retaining captaincy duties.
The Capitals revealed Pant will continue to lead the side despite Shreyas Iyer's return from a shoulder injury.
Pant had extra time to rest his legs after he was among the India Test players who flew to the UAE earlier than expected, with the final match at Old Trafford dramatically called off due to concerns over a COVID-19 outbreak in the tourists' camp.
Star men absent
While there will be an array of star quality on show, there will also be a number of notable absentees.
England World Cup winners Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes will not feature, and the same goes for Dawid Malan.
Australia paceman Pat Cummins will also be absent, while India all-rounder Washington Sundar was ruled out due to injury.
Ground to make up for SRH
Sunrisers will be desperate to salvage some pride, having won only one of seven matches. But they have a new captain in Kane Williamson, who replaced David Warner during the IPL 2020.
It will be interesting to see how Warner responds to his call and if he can channelise his energy in the right direction the Hyderabad outfit can hope for a miraculous turnaround.
Second-bottom Kolkata Knight Riders, who have signed Tim Southee with Cummins unavailable, also have a lot of work to do. Punjab Kings and Rajasthan Royals are two points behind fourth-placed Mumbai.
RCB in top gear
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.
The Royal Challengers head coach Simon Katich had resigned owing to personal reasons with Hesson stepping in to that role. And they have made some right decision in the build-up to the IPL 2021.
Once Adam Zampa withdrew from the IPL 2021 along with a host of other Australian stars, the RCB ropped in Sri Lankan all-round sensation Hasaranga, who is an efficient leg-spinner and handy lower-order batsman. He had impressed immensely in the recent concluded white ball series against India at home. Another Sri Lankan Chameera too can be trusted to come up with some good spells.
CSK eye play-offs
Unlike IPL 2020, CSK had an amazing start to the IPL 2021 campaign as Moeen Ali gave a new life to the struggling batting line-up. 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.
Mumbai eye momentum
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.
Kolkata look for swing in fortune
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 2021, it is hard for anyone to take a gamble on them.
Brendon McCullum and Morgan are two people who are associated with the firebrand cricket, but KKR has struggled to play this particular brand and hence they find themselves at the seventh spot.
Royals look ahead with hope
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 need grit
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.
(With Agency inputs)