After 20 games, the caravan of IPL 2021 moves to Ahmedabad and Delhi. Each side will play their next four games at one of these venues. Below are the details of the next fixtures for each side-
Before we move ahead to analyze how things stand for each side, let us get an idea of what to expect from Delhi and Ahmedabad. In recent years, the pitch at Feroz Shah Kotla has been conducive to spin. But, we can expect it to play better than what we witnessed at Chepauk.
Motera has different pitches with different type of soil underneath ranging from red to black to mixed soil. In T20s since 2020, its behavior has been uncertain. It will not be prudent to predict the nature of the Ahmedabad pitch right now. Hence, we will look at how the teams that play there would want the pitch to be.
Teams Moving to Delhi-
1. Rajasthan Royals
One problem that the Royals do not have is the problem of many. Due to injuries or bubble fatigue they are losing players every week. Playing without their two marquee players, they would not be too discouraged about where they are on the points table. However, moving to Delhi presents a challenge for them on two aspects.
Rajasthan’s pacers have given runs at 9.01 which is overall highest but better than the pacers from other sides like Kolkata, Bangalore and Punjab at the Wankhede. Since cutter has been the major weapon of their left-arm pacers, the pitch in Delhi will be a lot more conducive to their craft. Shreyas Gopal, who has played two games so far, will also be in picture.
However, moving to Delhi can also work against their two primary batsmen – Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson – who would have rather enjoyed staying back in Mumbai. Neither will their lower-order prefer the turning ball more than a fast one.
2. Sunrisers Hyderabad
Hyderabad’s campaign has been counter intuitive so far. When the schedule came out, it was a common assumption that a side that is suited to low scoring games will be at home in Chepauk and Delhi where they play their first nine games. However, what transpired was absolute incapability of senior and young Indian batsmen to lift their middle-order in challenging conditions. They have been decent against pace, especially through Jonny Bairstow providing them brisk starts upfront. But, their run rate against spin has been the least among all sides.
When the Sunrisers move to Delhi, it is likely to be more of the same pitch wise. They will also be up against inform Chennai twice and Mumbai once. The way things have panned out, SRH would rather have pitches that negate their weakness (batting) rather than enhance their strength (bowling). However, they have proven the earlier hypothesis wrong, they might do it again by an improved performance in Delhi.
3. Mumbai Indians
It is out there for all to see that spinners have bamboozled all Mumbai batsmen except Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav so far. However, against pace as well Mumbai have had the lowest run rate – 7.5.
While their batsmen would be delighted to move out of Chennai, the track at Feroz Shah Kotla does not offer much solace. The only hope for Mumbai would be for the track in Delhi to play well atleast for the first few games. If Mumbai’s middle-order does not find a way to tackle tough wickets, they can find themselves into a challenging position before moving to friendlier venues for their last five games.
4. Chennai Super Kings
Who would have thought Chennai would be the table toppers after the first five games, none of them being at Chepauk. Even their coach Stephen Fleming was blunt to accept that they are a Chennai based side. But, they overcame the loss in the first game soon and shed their conservative approach with the bat. They have the best run rate among all sides against both pace and spin. Moreover, on a flat wicket at Wankhede, their spinners have a collective economy of 5.9 – the best among all sides.
While they have overcome the odds in the first five games, moving to Delhi falls right into MS Dhoni’s ally. He will be able to marshal his spinners like the good old days. It is highly likely that Imran Tahir will play all four games. And being the spin-basher, Moeen Ali might find a place instead of either Dwayne Bravo or Sam Curran.
Teams moving to Ahmedabad-
1. Kolkata Knight Riders
After a win in their first game, their campaign has gone downhill. Kolkata’s concern continue to be the inability of their batsmen to play a long innings. In the five games, they have lost a wicket every 14.9 balls, the worst among all sides. Moreover, their pacers have an economy of 9.6 which is the worst among all sides.
Since they found comfort in neither Chepauk nor Wankhede, it is difficult to presume what the uncertainty in Ahmedabad holds for them. Since their match-winners are hitters, they would want the pitches to be batting-friendly.
2. Punjab Kings
Punjab have had a bumpy ride so far. But, they were clinical in their last game against the defending champions. Including two all-rounders in Moises Henriques and Fabian Allen might have worked for them but, their bowling seems light for truer wickets.
Punjab’s bowling attack looked in complete contrast at Wankhede vs Chepauk. Looking at their side, they would want the wickets at Motera to have something for the bowlers. They have enough technically sound batsmen to counter such conditions.
3. Royal Challengers Bangalore
Till their last game against Chennai, Bangalore were unbeaten and right at the top. A big loss has pushed them to number three on the points table. But one bad game doesn’t take away the fact that they have been good in all departments so far.
Bangalore’s victories at Chepauk highlighted their conundrum over the years. Small ground and flat wicket at their usual home – Chinnaswamy – did not suit their weaker suit (bowling). While their once in a generation batsmen have no qualms about challenging wickets like Chepauk. As a team, they would want more of the same in Ahmedabad.
4. Delhi Capitals
The finalists of last year would be least concerned about the deck in Ahmedabad. They have plenty of options in pace and spin to counter any conditions. Moreover, with dashers like Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant to go along with the robustness of Shikhar Dhawan and Steven Smith provides them a batting unit for all conditions. Though now as Ravichandran Ashwin has opted out, they will need the services of Lalit Yadav if the pitch in Ahmedabad is dry.