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Ranking Every IPL Squad for the 2021 Season

| March 22, 2021 9:27 am PDT

Before I go any further, let’s get one thing straight – every single IPL squad is absolutely packed with world-class players this year.

In many ways, it almost feels unfair to rate each Indian Premier League team in 2021. After all, you could make a case for pretty much every side winning the title this year. But with the start of the new season now less than a month away, I have decided to assess the best and worst IPL teams in 2021.

The Mumbai Indians clinched their third title in four seasons last year, but do they have the best IPL squad in 2021? RR and CSK missed out on the playoffs altogether last term, yet they were among the busiest teams at this year’s auction.

Join me as I rank every IPL squad for the 2021 season.

8. Punjab Kings

The Punjab Kings have made some significant changes during the offseason, not least concerning the franchise’s name.

Formerly known as the Kings XI Punjab, the club will look quite different both on and off the field in 2021. But unfortunately for the Kings, I believe they possess the weakest squad in the Indian Premier League this year.

Despite boasting last season’s Orange Cap winner, Punjab’s batting-heavy roster feels far too crowded. Along with KL Rahul, who finished 52 runs clear at the top of the 2020 run-scoring charts, the Kings also have Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Dawid Malan, Nicolas Pooran on their books, not to mention all-rounders like Fabien Allen and Moises Henriques.

Keeping all of those high-profile overseas stars happy won’t be an easy task for coach Anil Kumble.

The franchise did manage to acquire two lethal pacemen at the 2021 IPL auction, with Aussie pair Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith signing. But there is no hiding from the fact that Punjab’s bowling options are inexperienced on the IPL stage.

Having finished no higher than fifth in each of the last six seasons, the Kings aren’t likely to end their wait for an Indian Premier League title this year.

Assessing the Punjab Kings 2021 IPL Squad

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7. Chennai Super Kings

It is no secret that the Super Kings endured a disappointing campaign last year. In fact, they failed to qualify for the playoffs for the very first time in their history.

Chennai heads into the new season with a new-look squad, with big names such as Harbhajan Singh and Shane Watson departing the club in the offseason. However, I’m not so sure that CSK’s recent recruits will get the team back on track.

CSK’S OFFSEASON MOVES
Released/Retired New Buys
Piyush Chawla Moeen Ali
Kedar Jadhav Krishnappa Gowtham
Monu Kumar Cheteshwar Pujara
Harbhajan Singh Harishankar Reddy
Murali Vijay Bhagath Varma
Shane Watson C Hari Nishaanth

There is no denying that Moeen Ali is a top-class all-rounder, while Krishnappa Gowtham and Cheteshwar Pujara bolster the team’s batting options. But in my eyes, Chennai’s squad lacks several key components.

Apart from Faf du Plessis, the Super Kings don’t really have any explosive batsmen. Worse still, the aging Dwanye Bravo is no longer the bowling leader that he once was.

On top of that, CSK’s middle order feels frail. With veteran batsmen like MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, and Ambati Ryudu clearly past their best, Chennai’s squad doesn’t fare too well when it comes to ranking the 2021 IPL squads.

Assessing the Chennai Super Kings IPL Squad for 2021

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6. Sunrisers Hyderabad

The Sunrisers have been the quietest franchise during the offseason by some distance, adding just three players to their squad at the auction.

SH chose to release five players following last term’s third-place finish, with Billy Stanlake, Sandeep Bavanaka, Fabian Allen, Sanjay Yadav, and Prithviraj Yarra all leaving the club. Still, it’s safe to say that the new buys haven’t exactly gotten Hyderabad’s fans too excited.

Following an eye-catching spell with BBL side Brisbane Heat earlier in the year, Mujeeb Ur Rahman is certainly a promising addition. But at just 19, the Afghanistan international can’t be expected to make a huge impact straight away.

Kedar Jadhav and Jagadeesha Suchith both offer something slightly different, although they aren’t likely to set the league alight.

However, the Sunrisers’ 2021 squad is saved by several world-class overseas stars. David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson, Jason Holder, Mitch Marsh, and Rashid Khan are all capable of changing games on their own, meaning SH should qualify for the playoffs again this year.

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5. Kolkata Knight Riders

When I first thought about ranking the 2021 IPL squads, I didn’t know where to put KKR. But following a successful auction for the Kolkata franchise, I think somewhere in the middle is fair.

After the Knight Riders narrowly missed out on the playoffs last term, Tom Banton, Chris Green, Siddesh Lad, Nikhil Naik, and M Siddarth headed for the exit door. With five players departing, coach Brendan McCullum has been able to revamp his roster.

In the batting department, Karun Nair and Sheldon Jackson join Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik, and Tim Seifert. Meanwhile, KKR picked up Harbhajan following his departure from CSK, with Vaibhav Arora also joining Lockie Ferguson and Pat Cummins in the bowling line-up.

But in my opinion, Kolkata’s best new buys can be found in the all-rounder department.

The addition of Bangladeshi superstar Shakib Al Hasan will give KKR a completely fresh dimension this year, with Ben Cutting, Pawan Negi, and Venkatesh Iyer also joining the club. Oh, and let’s not forget that Kolkata also boasts Andre Russell and Sunil Narine – two of the most successful all-rounders in IPL history.

The Knight Riders’ only two IPL titles came in 2012 and 2014, but they will surely fancy their chances of ending their wait for a third triumph this year.

Assessing the Kolkata Knight Riders IPL Squad in 2021

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4. Rajasthan Royals

Rajasthan finished rock bottom of the IPL table last season. Still, with three teams finishing the campaign on 12 points and third-place SH only accumulating 14 points, the Royals can count themselves unfortunate to have ended 2020 at the bottom of the pile.

But when it comes to ranking the Indian Premier League squads in 2021, RR’s is arguably among the best.

RR’S OFFSEASON MOVES
Released/Retired New Buys
Steve Smith Shivam Dube
Ankit Rajpoot Chris Morris
Oshane Thomas Mustafizur Rahman
Akash Singh Chetan Sakariya
Varun Aaron KC Caiappa
Tom Curran Liam Livingstone
Anirudha Joshi Kuldip Yadav
Shashank Singh Akash Singh

We all know that the Rajasthan franchise has made some bold decisions in recent months. I mean, releasing Steve Smith was a courageous move, while Tom Curran was one of eight players released by the Royals at the end of last season.

But with eight new faces – including Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Mistafizur Rahman, and Liam Livingstone – entering the fray, I think RR’s supporters can be confident about the upcoming campaign.

Morris is officially the most expensive buy in IPL history after Rajasthan spent a whopping 16.25 crores on the South African all-rounder. When you throw English trio Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, and Jos Buttler into the mix, the Royals’ 2021 squad suddenly becomes even stronger.

Assessing the Rajasthan Royals 2021 IPL Squad

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3. Royal Challengers Bangalore

Following another unsuccessful campaign, the Royal Challengers will be eager to shake the “underachievers” tag they have gained in recent times.

Despite having reached the IPL final on three occasions, RCB has never been able to lift the trophy. However, the franchise’s long wait for glory could end this year, thanks to a series of positive offseason moves.

Most notably, Glenn Maxwell has joined Bangalore after being released by Punjab. Widely regarded as one of the most dangerous T20 players on the planet, the Australian teams up with countrymen Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, and Dan Christian.

The Royal Challengers’ lower middle order has needed strengthening for some time, but the addition of players like Maxwell, Christian, and Kyle Jamieson seems to have rectified that.

Better still, AB de Villiers is back for another season, along with homegrown heroes like Virat Kohli and Yuzvendra Chahal.

If coach Simon Katich can find a way to get all of RCB’s top performers into his playing XI, the Bangalore franchise could finally taste Indian Premier League success in 2021.

Can the Royal Challengers Bangalore Squad Finally Win the IPL in 2021?

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2. Delhi Capitals

There is a reason why DC made the way to the final last year. After all, Delhi boasted one of the strongest squads in the competition – and the same applies to 2021.

With reigning Purple Cap winner Kagiso Rabada leading the way, alongside Ravichandran Ashwin and Anrich Nortje, the Capitals arguably have the deadliest bowling attack in the Indian Premier League. On top of that, Lukman Meriwala, Manimaran Siddarth, and Umesh Yadav were all acquired at the auction.

With Steve Smith, Sam Billings, and Vishnu Nood also signing during the offseason, Delhi’s outrageous batting line-up – which features guys like Shikhar Dhawan and Shreya Iyer – is now even stronger.

DC’S TOP PERFORMERS (2020 IPL SEASON)
Player Overall IPL Ranking
Kagiso Rabada 1st (30 wickets)
Shikhar Dhawan 2nd (618 runs)
Anrich Nortje 4th (22 wickets)
Shreyas Iyer 4th (519 runs)

Elsewhere, local young guns Rishabh Pant and Prithvi Shaw add further depth to DC’s batting roster, while all-rounders such as Axar Patel, Chris Woakes, and Marcus Stoinis make the Capitals’ squad for 2021 even better.

Delhi finally reached an IPL final last season following 12 years without an appearance in the showpiece event. Ricky Ponting’s men eventually fell as the last hurdle, although I would not be surprised if they bounced back and challenged for the title again this year.

Evaluating the Delhi Capitals 2021 IPL Squad

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1. Mumbai Indians

If you thought that MI’s squad couldn’t possibly get any better – think again.

Having clinched their third title in four seasons last year, the five-time champions clearly believed that strengthening their squad was the only way to go. Out went players like James Pattinson and Mitchell McClenaghan– and in came five new buys.

Adam Milne and Jimmy Neesham were both signed at the auction, as well as Piyush Chawla and Arjun Tendulkar. Nathan Coulter-Nile was re-purchased, while Yudhvir Charak and Marco Jansen also joined the club.

But perhaps most impressively, the Mumbai Indians still possess all of their standout performers from the previous campaign.

Ishan Kishan, Quinton de Kock, and Suryakumar Yadav finished fifth, sixth, and seventh, respectively, on the 2020 Orange Cap leaderboard, while Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult finished just behind Rabada in the wicket-taking charts.

With stars such as Rohit Sharma, Chris Lynn, Hardik Pandya, and Kieron Pollard littering the squad, there is absolutely no denying that MI has the best squad in the Indian Premier League this year.

How Good is the Mumbai Indians IPL Squad in 2021?

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Summary

In my opinion, last season’s finalists have the best squads heading into the new campaign.

Having made a number of outstanding offseason moves, the Mumbai Indians are the bookmakers’ favorites to win the IPL in 2021, while the Delhi Capitals have more than enough quality to go one better this time around.

At the other end of spectrum, teams like PK and CSK rank among the weakest IPL squads this year, at least for me. Following a below-par 2020 campaign, I’m expecting the Royals and the Knight Riders to enjoy a better season this year.

If betting on the Indian Premier League is your thing, make sure you keep up to date with all the latest IPL developments in our cricket blog.

Ben Morris

Ben is a sportswriter and tipster who specializes in soccer. Currently based in the UK, he has traveled all around the world watching – and betting on – his beloved sport.

Alongside his regular soccer content, Ben publishes blogs and picks for cricket, Formula 1, Aussie rules, darts, and various other sports.

Ben is a diehard fan of Nottingham Forest and England, so he hasn’t had much to cheer about in recent years!

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