IPL 2021 Season Review – Mumbai Indians, Punjab Kings, Rajasthan Royals, Sunrisers Hyderabad

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With the league in IPL 2021 over, it’s time to look back at the performance of the four teams – Mumbai Indians, Punjab Kings, Rajasthan Royals, Sunrisers Hyderabad – who did not reach the playoffs.

Mumbai Indians

Where they ended

The defending champions dropped four places to fifth this time. They left it until the very last day of the league to keep their qualifying chances – though unlikely – alive before fizzling out.

This is how the season went
It went mostly fine for Mumbai until the tournament moved to the UAE. They had won four of their seven matches in India in the first stage, but in the UAE it was almost as if they had left their batting smarts behind.

What went wrong
As captain Rohit Sharma said before the last league game, “they did not bat well in the UAE leg”, and it cost them a playoff spot.

Mumbai is known for their star-studded line-up, and their campaign took a hit when several of them stopped clicking. Quinton de Kock’s strike rate dropped below 105 in the last three games he played, Rohit produced two single-digit goals as they needed to win desperately, Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav clicked a little too late and Hardik Pandya did not come to the party at all. To add to that, Trent Boult, the powerplay king of IPL 2020, went without a foot in powerplay’s five games in a row.

In the news
The one most researched was Hardik, who was boiling with bats and did not bowl a single one over in the tournament. He is in the squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup as an all-rounder, but with no overs and almost no races under his belt, fans and several former players have begun to ask about his position. When he is at his best, there are not many in India like him. But he is far from the best, right now.

Punjab Kings

Where they ended

For the second year in a row, they finished sixth in the table with 12 points.

This is how the season went
The Punjab Kings started the season with a new name and opened their campaign with a win, but lost five of their next seven games. When they came to the UAE, their fights continued to win together and they ended up in a complicated four-way mess in the middle of the points table. They won their last three matches but dropped out of the race due to their poor net running speed. They continued to have problems in their batting line-up, which seemed to go wrong in fire when KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal opened pair. But on the positive side, their unrestricted Indian bowlers Arshdeep Singh, Ravi Bishnoi and Harpreet Brar stood out.

What went wrong
Their excessive dependence on Rahul and Agarwal. While the two remained the backbone of the team, Nicholas Pooran had to be dropped after failing to repeat his 2020 IPL form. The unlimited Indians in the middle order – Deepak Hooda, Sarfaraz Khan and Shahrukh Khan – could not deliver enough either. Their middle order (No. 4-7) actually had the second worst stroke average (16.68) this season.

Rahul was among the top three scorers in the tournament for the fourth year in a row, scoring 626 runs in 13 matches, but his strike rate was again a big talking point. He started the 2021 season with a 50-ball 91, but went back to scoring calmly and blocked two innings against Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings, where he scored a 57-ball 91 * and 42-ball 98 *, respectively. His strike was only about 114 in the rest of the ten matches. His conservative approach did not always have the desired impact on the team, something he also admitted.

In the news
Chris Gayle left the Punjab Kings’ UAE setup with reference to bubble fatigue. When he had just recovered from the CPL bubble, the veteran star said he was looking for a mental refresh before the T20 World Cup.

Rajasthan Royals

Where they ended

The Rajasthan Royals had another dull season, finishing in seventh place with five wins in 14 games, a minor increase from last place last season.

How their season went
The Royals won only three out of the seven games in the first stage and also continued to be inconsistent in the UAE, winning only two out of their seven games. In the second half, nothing really went well. They were without some of their great cannons and were weighed down by well-known shortcomings that were still a top-heavy side. The absence of a spearhead in their bowling attack also hurt them.

What went wrong
The Royals did not get everything right in the first half of the season, but Jos Buttler, Chris Morris and captain Sanju Samson made sure to step up and keep them in the middle of the table, despite the fact that their two biggest names – Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer – were not available.

Buttler did not reach the second half, but they got a good replacement in Evin Lewis, who together with Yashasvi Jaiswal made them start quickly. Samson, who had his best outing ever in his nine-year IPL career, making 484 runs in 14 games, was also a force at the top of the order.

But that was it. The Middle Ages remained their weak link, and Liam Livingstone and Glenn Phillips could not help much. Neither could Morris. He was also bad with the ball. Morris not only went barefoot in the first three games of the UAE, but was also expensive, leaking 47 and 50 runs against the Punjab Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore, respectively, and was dropped as a result. There were a couple of good individual performances, from Kartik Tyagi, Chetan Sakariya and Mustafizur Rahman, in their otherwise stubborn bowling attacks, but the constant mix towards the end of the tournament’s business did not work well either. And if anything, the ending was awful: 90 for 9 and 85 all out in their last two league games.

In the news
Royals were without their three largest overseas stars in various stretches. Archer was ruled out due to an elbow injury right at the start, Stokes took a break from the game for mental reasons, and Buttler resigned from the UAE leg due to the birth of his second child. It was too much to deal with.

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Where they ended

Sunriser’s Hyderabad had the biggest drop compared to the 2020 season and went from third place to the bottom. They finished the 2021 edition with just three wins from 14 matches.

This is how the season went
Sunrises just did not show up. Even when the first stage started in India, they took all four matches to record their first victory. They lost three more before the IPL was postponed, then started the UAE leg with two more defeats. Only one win from their first nine games meant their season was pretty much over before it actually was.

What went wrong
The loss of form to David Warner and the inaccessibility of Jonny Bairstow in the UAE leg meant their bowlers had to perform the heavy lifts again, but Sunriser’s inability to cross 150 hit them regularly hard.

They started the season by wasting chases in matches they could have won. It was because of the old problem: an inexperienced and weak middle order. And when they first struck, they crossed 135 only twice in five attempts and defended only one of those totals successfully.

Also in the bowl, T Natarajan’s covid-19 enforced absence pushed their plans and the high economy of Sandeep Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar under non-fluctuating conditions did not help either. Rashid Khan was their leading wicket-taker again, and Jason Holder also inspired them in the UAE leg with his strikes, but if there is one team that needs a complete overhaul, it is the Sunrisers.

In the news
Warner, one of the most consistent strikers in the IPL in the last few years, but sadly out of shape at the moment, not only lost his captaincy, but was also completely dropped from the Sunrisers’ plans after scoring 2 and 0 in the UAE – benet. He was left at the team hotel for a couple of matches before being seen waving Sunrisers flags from the stands towards the end of the league. The Warner-Sunrisers marriage could well be over.

State input from Gaurav Sundararaman

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