Chennai: Call it a cricket carnival. World’s biggest sporting extravaganza IPL 2021 kicks off today amidst surging Covid numbers across the country.
Eight franchise will compete against each other in front of empty stands staying in bio-bubble to entertain cricket-lovers for next 45 days.
The country has reported more than 1 lakh Covid-19 cases on three occasions this month and it is safe to say, that if IPL 2021 plays out glitch-free, it would be one of the biggest accomplishments of BCCI and the IPL GC.
Amongst all the eight teams, Mumbai Indians once again look the strongest. And the season opener is poised to be a box office success as two of Indian cricket’s favourite sons – Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma – will battle it out at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. With night curfews back in most States and people looking to play it safe and stay indoors, one can expect everyone to be glued to their television screens today.
CSK led by Dhoni have a lot to prove. They had a miserable outing last season finishing in the bottom half. With Raina back in action, hopes are high. Kohli too would want to finally take the title to Bangalore as he looks to establish himself as one of the best leaders in the game. Delhi who finished runners-up last year is led by Rishabh Pant in Shreyas Iyer’s absence. They play CSK tomorrow in Mumbai.
Rajasthan has a new captain in the form of Sanju Samson and it would be interesting to see how he leads seniors like Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, and Chris Morris. In a similar vein, SRH would once again look at using their low-profile but super effective players to break into the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) have signed Australia fast bowler Jason Behrendorff as replacement for compatriot Josh Hazlewood. Hazlewoodhad earlier pulled out of the 2021 Indian Premier League (IPL) to get ready for Australia’s upcoming international calendar.
The epic battles in this edition of the IPL are scheduled to be held at six venues including Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, New Delhi, and Kolkata. The final will be played at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on 30 May.
To minimise risk, teams and match officials will travel to the airport from hotels in sanitised coaches whose drivers have been staying with them and take an exclusive channel at the airport to board a charter flight. pilots and cabin crew must clear RT-PCR tests from an agency approved by the Indian cricket board 24 hours prior and on the morning of the flight.
Will it be a hatrick for MI?
Indian team’s vice-captain and star batsman, Rohit Sharma’s Mumbai Indians, and skipper Kohli’s RCB will be facing each other in the opening match on Friday. MI is heading into the tournament as the overwhelming favorites. This year, MI is eyeing a new record – winning the IPL title thrice in a row.
With the addition of New Zealand stars Adam Milne, Jimmy Neesham, and Australia’s Nathan Coulter-Nile, the MI squad is looking unstoppable once again.