It's that time of the year once again — Less than six months since the postponed previous edition in UAE, where Mumbai Indians (MI) romped to a record fifth Indian Premier League (IPL) title, the cash-rich tournament returns to its homeland in the usual April-May slot.
Last season, the entire tournament was held behind closed doors owing to COVID-19 pandemic, and this season too it will start off without fans.
Six cities— Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and New Delhi will host games throughout the tournament, but none of the teams will play on their home ground. All the playoffs and final will be held at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.
Defending champions MI will take on Virat Kohli's Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on Friday as they begin their quest for a hat-trick of titles. For RCB, they will be hoping to finally end their trophy drought, after having reached the playoffs last season, where they lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the eliminator.
Chennai Super Kings (CSK), who had a disappointing outing finishing seventh last time out, face Delhi Capitals (DC), led by Rishabh Pant, on Saturday. Pant will lead DC for the entire tournament in absence of Shreyas Iyer, who injured his shoulder during the first India-England ODI in March.
While Punjab Kings (Formerly Kings XI Punjab) will hope a change in name brings about change in fortune, Rajasthan Royals (RR) will have their eyes set on their first trophy since the inaugural edition in 2008.
Eoin Morgan's Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), meanwhile, have the likes of Shakib Al Hasan, Harbhajan Singh, Karun Nair among others while also boasting the likes of Andre Russell and Sunil Narine. Their last IPL trophy win came in 2014, with Gautam Gambhir leading them to victory over the then-KXIP in the final.
KL Rahul (PBKS, 670 runs) was the Orange Cap holder last season, while Kagiso Rabada (DC, 30 wickets) ended up as the Purple Cap holder.
Here's the IPL 2021 points table in detail:
Orange Cap holder: Shikhar Dhawan (85 runs)
Purple Cap holder: Harshal Patel (5 wickets)