As far as the franchises are concerned, they will have to start all over again. Twenty-nine matches were played in the first phase before IPL 2021 went into a Covid-forced postponement. Some teams had early momentum, a few were playing catch-up. Now, every side would like to hit the ground running.
To become the first team to win the IPL three times on the spin, MI have to up the ante, which they usually do on the home stretch. In the first phase, their three losses were sandwiched between four wins, bringing them eight points. If 14 points are the bare minimum to make the Playoffs, the five-time champions need to win at least three more games.
The Bumrah (workload) factor
Jasprit Bumrah bowled 151 overs in four Tests in England. Central to India’s success in the T20 World Cup, the fast bowler needs to be at his peak during the ICC event. And therein lies the conundrum – how to manage Bumrah’s workload, for he is indispensable for his franchise too. Maybe, the BCCI has a role to play here to ensure that a repeat of the Rohit Sharma incident (read, injury) last year doesn’t happen.
Chennai Super Kings
The current league standings attest to a strong start for CSK this year – 10 points from seven matches and sniffing the Playoffs. But there’s a catch. On the fresh pitches in UAE, fast bowlers are expected to get some purchase initially.
The Jadeja-Dhoni combo
After establishing himself as India’s first-choice spin-allrounder across formats, Ravindra Jadeja is expected to use the second half of the IPL to get into the T20 World Cup groove. By mid-October, pitches in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah should start assisting spinners. A good show in the IPL will hold the left-arm spinner in good stead. Watch out for a few tricks that could be in store; Dhoni and Jadeja working in tandem. A gentle reminder, Dhoni would be India’s team mentor at the ICC event.