After commencing in March this year, the 2021 Indian Premier League eventually wrapped up on Friday this week as the Chennai Super Kings celebrated their 4th title in the 14-year history of the competition, with a 27-run triumph over Kolkata Knight Riders.
With a combined nine crowns between them, Chennai and Mumbai Indians have won almost two-thirds of the 14 editions of the IPL to date.
The 2021 IPL auction took place in February this year and there were a plethora of new signings that fetched eye-watering sums as the eight franchises prepared for the new season.
This was the first IPL auction to take place during the pandemic, with the auction for last year's edition held in December 2019.
CSK released 6 players, including Piyush Chawla and Shane Watson. Delhi Capitals released 6 players, amongst them English batsman Jason Roy and Australian wicket-keeper Alex Carey.
KKR released 6 players, including Englishman Tom Banton. Mumbai Indians released 7 players, most notably pace bowlers Lasith Malinga and Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Punjab Kings released 9 players, including Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell. Rajasthan Royals released skipper Steve Smith, as well as Tom Curran and 6 others.
RCB released the most players with 10 - amongst them South African fast bowlers Chris Morris and Dale Steyn, Australia captain Aaron Finch, English all-rounder Moeen Ali and Indian all-rounder Shivam Dube.
Smith joined last year's runners-up Delhi Capitals, as fellow countryman Maxwell switched to RCB. Ali moved to CSK while Dube and Morris both signed for Rajasthan Royals after leaving RCB.
Spin bowler Chawla and fast bowler Coulter-Nile both received contracts from reigning champions Mumbai Indians, and 20-year-old Indian all-rounder Arjun Tendulkar (son of Sachin) was also signed by the Mumbai side.
Veteran spin bowler Harbhajan Singh left CSK for KKR, and Indian pace bowler Umesh Yadav swapped RCB for the Delhi Capitals.
There were also a series of additional personnel changes as Royal Challengers Bangalore coach Simon Katich was succeeded by Mike Hesson, whilst Rajasthan Royals replaced outgoing coach Andrew McDonald with Sri Lankan cricket legend Kumar Sangakkara.
Two senior Australians – both involved and shamed in the infamous Sandpapergate saga in 2018 – were replaced as the captains of their respective franchises, as Sanju Samson took over captaincy duties of Rajasthan Royals from the released Steve Smith, meanwhile David Warner lost his role mid-season to New Zealand leader Kane Williamson who was named captain of the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Warner has since been alienated from the SRH set-up and is likely to be released next year as two new franchises enter the competition.
Rishabh Pant became the new skipper of the Delhi Capitals after last year's captain Shreyas Iyer was initially ruled out of IPL 2021 with a shoulder injury, but returned for the Capitals when the tournament resumed in September.
Franchise Captain Head Coach 2020 2021
CSK MS Dhoni Stephen Fleming 7th Winners
DC R Pant Ricky Ponting Runners-up 1st
KKR E Morgan Brendon McCullum 5th Runners-up
MI R Sharma Mahela Jayawardene Winners 5th
PBKS KL Rahul Anil Kumble 6th 6th
RCB V Kohli Mike Hesson 4th 3rd
RR S Samson Kumar Sangakkara 8th 7th
SRH K Williamson Trevor Bayliss 3rd 8th
Last year the IPL was forced to relocate to the United Arab Emirates in response to the Covid-19 pandemic before the competition returned home to India in 2021 in its usual slot beginning in April.
Four venues – Ahmedabad, Chennai, Delhi, and Mumbai – were confirmed for the 14th year of the IPL, and the 2nd since the start of the pandemic.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced prior to the tournament that it would begin behind closed doors and the situation would be reviewed as it progressed.
A colossal resurgence of COVID-19 across India – and more specifically within the IPL bio-bubble – resulted in a handful of players pulling out of the tournament in late April/early May, before the BCCI announced on May 4 that the competition was indefinitely suspended.
The league stage had just passed the halfway mark when the competition drew to a halt, and the Delhi Capitals topped the standings with 12 points following 6 wins out of 8.
CSK and RCB each had 10 points whilst reigning champions Mumbai Indians won 4 games out of 7 to sit in 4th place with 8 points. SRH were bottom of the pile with a solitary victory from their 7 games before the tournament was called off.
Delhi Capitals batsman Shikhar Dhawan had the IPL Orange Cap after he scored the most runs with 380, averaging 54. Punjab Kings skipper KL Rahul gathered 331 runs from 5 games. Faf du Plessis knocked 320 runs at an average of 64.
RCB bowler Harshal Patel claimed a stunning 17 wickets in 7 matches to hold onto the Purple Cap during the suspension. In the opening match of the tournament Harshal became the first-ever bowler to notch a five-wicket haul versus Mumbai Indians, with figures of 5/27. Chris Morris (RR) and Avesh Khan (DC) each picked up 14 wickets in 7 innings apiece.
After a 20-week suspension, the 2021 IPL eventually restarted on 19 September, albeit the tournament was relocated to the UAE for a second successive year.
Prior to the resumption of IPL action, the India national team had been on tour in England with the fifth and final test match between the two nations called off after backroom staff members of the India team reportedly tested positive for Covid-19.
A hugely controversial talking point as to whether it was pure coincidence or sheer convenience that the deciding Test clashed with the return of the world's most lucrative cricketing competition. This also resulted in a handful of England players who boycotted a return to the second leg of the IPL.
The first match after the resumption saw defending champions Mumbai Indians clash with Chennai Super Kings. CSK batted first and found themselves 3 wickets down for just 7 runs after 3 overs. Ruturaj Gaikwad smacked 88 runs not-out from 58 deliveries to steer CSK to a score of 156/6 in 20 overs. Dwayne Bravo later took 3 wickets for 25 runs as the CSK bowling attack restricted Mumbai to 136/8 in their innings, and CSK took a 20-run victory.
Ahead of the tournament’s recommencing RCB captain Virat Kohli announced he intended to step down as skipper after the current IPL season. Kohli, 36, also relinquished his position as India skipper in T20I format, with effect from after the World Cup in UAE & Oman which gets underway today.
Kohli and his RCB army‘s first game after the restart was a losing effort to Kolkata Knight Riders who prior had just 2 wins from their opening 7 matches, as RCB failed to reverberate the form they showcased during the first leg of the tournament in India.
With one league fixture remaining for each franchise the trio of Chennai, Delhi and Bangalore had all secured their spots in the knockout phase.
Mumbai had a below-par record of 6 wins from 13 games which saw the IPL holders level on 12 points with a KKR outfit that had come to life during the second phase in UAE.
After a disappointing leg in India where KKR won only two of their opening seven league clashes, the emergence of opening batsman Venkatesh Iyer in UAE catapulted Brendon McCullum's team up the standings and into contention for the playoffs.
26-year-old Iyer scored 41* not-out on debut against RCB, followed swiftly by 53 against Mumbai Indians. Iyer later knocked 67 runs versus the Punjab Kings and the Indian all-rounder averaged 33,5 runs in his 7 appearances during the league stage.
Mumbai and Kolkata both won their last remaining league fixtures – against SRH and Rajasthan Royals, respectively – but KKR edged Mumbai to the final qualifying spot by virtue of a superior net run-rate.
In the first Qualifier the top two teams battled it out for a place in the Final as CSK met Delhi Capitals in Dubai. DC posted 172/5 which CSK successfully chased with two balls to spare, as Gaikwad (70) and Robin Uthappa (63) starred for the men in yellow.
CSK won by 4 wickets to book their spot in the Final, their 8th final in IPL history.
In the Eliminator, 3rd placed RCB met in-form KKR for a chance to contest the Delhi Capitals in Qualifier 2. Kohli won the toss and chose to bat first and RCB went 49 runs without loss after 5 overs. Their run-rate dropped drastically and the wickets began to tumble leaving Bangalore with a total score of 138/7.
KKR got off to a healthy start and were 74/2 after 10 overs. The writing was on the wall and Kolkata won it by 4 wickets to confirm a Qualifier 2 rendezvous with DC who had lost in Qualifier 1.
In the 2nd Qualifier, KKR won the toss and sent Delhi in to bat first and Rishabh Pant and team could only manage a score of 135/5 at a run-rate of 6,75 RPO.
KKR's opening pair of Venkatesh Iyer (55) and Shubman Gill (46) set up Brendon McCullum's side for a 3-wicket victory and their place in the IPL Final for the franchise's first Championship appearance since 2014 when they beat Kings XI Punjab.
Delhi Capitals became the first franchise since the Gujarat Lions in 2016 to top the table and subsequently fail to progress to the Final.
Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders met in the Final on Friday with everything on the line. An 8th Final for CSK while opponents KKR became two-time finalists.
Eoin Morgan won the toss and sent MS Dhoni‘s side in to bat first, which unleashed Faf du Plessis into attack mode. The former South Africa captain contributed 86 runs off 59 balls as CSK posted a score of 192/3.
KKR had a reasonable start and their opening pair of Gill and Iyer once again delivered, and they each notched half-centuries however their respective dismissals in the 13th and 17th overs all but ascertained success for the Chennai franchise, who won by 27 runs to reap their fourth IPL trophy.
31 of 60 matches were staged in the UAE, with 8 at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, 13 at Dubai International Cricket Stadium, and 8 at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Just 10 of the 31 matches in UAE saw unsuccessful run chases – four in Dubai and three in each of Abu Dhabi & Sharjah.
CSK received a purse of 20 crore rupees ($2,6M USD) for winning the competition while runners-up earned prize money of 12,5 crore rupees ($1,6M USD).
KL Rahul was in possession of the Orange Cap at the fruition of the round robin with 626 runs to his name, but as the Punjab Kings exited the competition Rahul was at stake to lose the IPL Orange Cap and so he did.
CSK batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad knocked 70 runs in the Qualifier and 32 in the Final to claim the Orange Cap as he pipped fellow Chennai opener Faf du Plessis to the prize for top scorer by just 2 runs.
Gaikwad scored one century in addition to four half-tons throughout the competition and amassed 635 runs in 16 innings, at an average of 45.35; du Plessis knocked six 50s in IPL 2021 but collected two ducks as he ended with 633 runs also from 16 matches.
KL Rahul received 10 lakh rupees ($13k USD) as he smacked the most sixes of any player. The PBKS captain hit 30 maximums, seven more than CSK's pair of du Plessis & Gaikwad (23 sixes apiece).
687 times did the ball clear the boundary rope throughout the 2021 IPL – an average of 11,45 sixes per match.
Harshal Patel took 32 wickets across 15 matches and claimed the IPL Purple Cap award for his stellar efforts. Harshal’s 56 overs of bowling came at a cost of 459 runs, a very economic average of 8,1 runs per over. The RCB fast bowler collected 8 more scalps than next-best Avesh Khan of Delhi Capitals.
On top of the Purple Cap, Harshal also scooped the prizes for Valuable player of the season and Game changer of the season, which won the 30-year-old a total of 30 lakh rupees ($40k USD) in accolades.
KKR unearthed a gem in the uncapped Venkatesh Iyer and the 26-year-old walked away with the award for Power Player of the season and a cheque for 10 lakh rupees. Delhi Capitals batsman Shimron Hetmyer was named the Super Striker of the season, and Punjab Kings’ Ravi Bishnoi scooped the Perfect Catch of the season award. Bishnoi and Hetmyer each received 10 lakh rupees.
The T20 World Cup group stage begins today Sunday 17 October as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and others look to progress to the next round. The Super 12 stage of the tournament commences on Saturday as Australia take on South Africa at Abu Dhabi, and England battle West Indies in Dubai.
Key fixtures, T20 World Cup:
23 Oct - Australia vs South Africa
23 Oct - England vs West Indies
24 Oct - India vs Pakistan
26 Oct - South Africa vs West Indies
26 Oct - Pakistan vs New Zealand
30 Oct - England vs Australia
31 Oct - India vs New Zealand
6 Nov - Australia vs West Indies
6 Nov - England vs South Africa