IPL 2021 has unfortunately been suspended ‘indefinitely’. Seemed inevitable—here are five takeaways from this tournament.
1. India’s Problem of Plenty At the Top for India, Questions Elsewhere
Virat Kohli announced during the India-England series that he & Rohit Sharma would open for the T20I World Cup. Ishan Kishan & Suryakumar Yadav also had stunning debuts, but IPL 2021 has changed the narrative.
Dhawan, Shaw, & KL Rahul are back in the reckoning with dominating performances while Agarwal signed off with a blazing 99*. Forms of Rohit-Kohli, Gill, Kishan, and SKY on the other hand? Concerning.
While India has plenty of options at the top, lower order looks unstable. Pandyas are horridly out of touch, Tewatia was a one-season wonder, and Karthik’s form is hot and cold. On the bowling front, Natarajan is injured, Varun and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have fitness issues, Kuldeep-Chahal are in the worst phases of their careers, and Sundar-Ashwin failed to make a mark. Only positives were the Chahar cousins, Harshal Patel, & Jadeja. Good finds in Sakariya & Avesh as well.
2. England Burnt Out, Hope for South Africa, Doubts for West Indies
England arrived in India with the goal of experiencing conditions that will help them lift the World T20 trophy. Fast forward two months, Stokes-Archer are injured & Morgan’s magic is missing—both as captain and with the bat. Apart from century in the final game, Buttler flattered to deceive, Currans were inconsistent, Woakes-Malan barely played, & Roy-Livingstone-Billings did not even get a chance. Only Moeen Ali & Bairstow had positive seasons.
With a busy home Test summer around the corner, England need to manage their players carefully. A case of severe burnout.
South Africans, on the other hand, endured a resurgent campaign. Genius of AB De Villiers aside, forms of du Plessis, Morris, Miller, and even 42-year-old Tahir provides South Africa much needed hope. With Janneman Malan & Nortje in brilliant touch during the Pakistan series, the Proteas have a decent core of youth & experience.
Ngidi, Rabada, and QDK were not in top gear, but we all know what damage they can do.
Finally, West Indians witnessed high highs and low lows. Pollard played his best IPL innings, Hetmyer & Russell displayed their finishing potential, and Gayle produced a couple of match-winning performances as well. Yet much-hyped Pooran had one of the all-time worst IPL seasons—4 ducks & an average of 4.66. Not much of note from Allen, Holder, & Narine either.
3. Loyalty Is Temporary, Class Is Permanent
David Warner might only be considered a great modern-day Australian opener, but he is an absolute legend in the Indian Premier League.
Most fifties (50), third on list of centuries (4), and fifth highest run-scorer (5447), best for any foreign player. More importantly, he led Sunrisers Hyderabad to their only title in 2016 along with four qualifiers.
It took just 6 games, couple of unfortunate run-outs, a 110 strike-rate, and miscommunication with management to axe him. Expect Warner to don a jersey of another team next IPL.
Loyalty is fickle.
4. World T20 In Danger?
Unlike the successfully hosted IPL 2020, the way this edition ended was bit of a shame. IPL 2021 was supposed to be testing grounds to see if India can host the World T20 later this year. India failed.
UAE is the top contender to host the tournament, but multiple issues still to think about. IPL 2020 was in a strict bio-bubble with 8 teams involved. The World Cup will host 16 teams, and each team is allowed an extended squad of 23 players.
Man proposes COVID disposes.
5. Humanity Prevails
Jason Behrendorff had to be the most unfortunate cricketing story of IPL 2021.
Not picked in initial auction, called as a replacement for CSK, quarantined, and when he finally became eligible to play, the IPL was called off.
What’s worse? Australian government is not accepting their citizens (even jail threat), so the Australian contingent from the IPL must fly to Sri Lanka & Maldives until the travel ban ends.
Regardless, kudos to Behrendorff & earlier to Cummins for contributing to the COVID-19 emergency in India that set off a series of players donating to the cause.
Our thoughts and prayers with India and others suffering from the global pandemic.
Get well soon, world.