This year’s Indian Premier League has well and truly underway and some teams have looked extremely strong while the others have just not been able to put in consistent performances in their first three fixtures of IPL 2021.
Royal Challengers Bangalore have been runaway leaders so far, winning three in three while Kolkata Knight Riders, Punjab Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad have just managed to win one game from four matches.
With only six venues at play this year instead of the usual home and away ties, players are also needing to adapt to the situations and adjust their game, which isn’t always easy. The pitch so far at the Wankhede has looked a belter to bat on and quick while the one at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, slows down considerably as the second innings progresses.
The other grounds this year will be the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi, the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru and the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad — which will also host the playoffs and the final on May 30.
The pitches there will be much different from the ones at play in Mumbai and Chennai currently and keeping that in mind and the performances of the teams so far in this year’s IPL, we take a look at the strongest and weakest capped players in each team this year in terms of performance and playing time.
Strongest Player – AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers has once again looked in imperious form in this year’s IPL. De Villiers, who has been pushed down the order to perform the role of a finisher, has taken it upon himself to finish RCB’s innings strongly. So far, he has scored 125 runs from 3 matches including a fifty against KKR.
Weakest player – Navdeep Saini
Navdeep Saini is one of the most promising bowlers in the current Indian circuit but he is yet to play a game in this year’s IPL and it looks difficult for him to break into the team as well with the current RCB squad looking set and balanced with the plethora of options with both bat and ball.
Strongest Player – Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan has started the tournament brilliantly and has been the leading run-scorer for Delhi and IPL overall after three games. Dhawan has smashed 232 runs from 4 games including two fifties. It is riding on his performances that Delhi has managed to score big runs despite struggles elsewhere.
Weakest player – Tom Curran
Tom Curran is one of the best death bowlers in the world in T20 cricket but the big-money signing from the IPL 2021 auction for Delhi hasn’t quite delivered yet and has been dropped from the squad after the arrival of Kagiso Rabada. Curran has taken one wicket from two games and has an economy rate of 9.78.
Strongest Player – Rohit Sharma
Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma hasn’t quite hit the ground running but he has played some important knocks so far in this year’s tournament. Rohit has scored 138 runs from four matches at an average of 34.50. Although he hasn’t quite set the stage alight, he remains Mumbai’s best batter and most dangerous player overall.
Weakest Player – Saurabh Tiwary
Saurabh Tiwary, much like every year, hasn’t played much so far. Tiwary always acts as a handy replacement for anyone injured or rested and it looks like the southpaw from Jharkhand is once again going to be playing the exact role in this year’s IPL as well.
Strongest Player – Ravindra Jadeja
Ravindra Jadeja ahead of MS Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo sounds a bit odd but the all-rounder has emerged as one of the best all-format cricketers lately and his contribution to the team across all three aspects makes him the most important player in the side by far. So far, Jaddu has scored 40 runs, taken two wickets and completed 7 catches in IPL 2021.
Weakest Player – Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara is an icon of the game but it looks like he’s unlikely to get a game in a CSK side that has its batting order pretty set. Pujara was bought for INR 50 lakh in the auction but he is yet to get a game in this year’s IPL.
Strongest Player – Andre Russell
Andre Russell is once again showing the form of previous years despite being a tad inconsistent in a struggling KKR outfit. The big West Indian has so far scored 99 runs from 4 matches, including a fifty and has taken 7 wickets, which also included a five-wicket haul against defending champions MI.
Weakest Player – Kuldeep Yadav
This is a surprise name but Kuldeep Yadav’s confidence seems to be at its lowest ever and he is not selected for KKR ahead of Harbhajan Singh and Varun Chakravarthy. Kuldeep’s international career has also taken a hit and it looks like KKR will not retain him ahead of next year’s IPL as well.
Strongest Player – KL Rahul
KL Rahul has once again started the IPL well and scored runs for his side. The Punjab Kings skipper has so far scored 161 runs from four games, including two fifties in IPL 2021 and has looked Punjab’s best batter this year.
Weakest Player – Mandeep Singh
Mandeep Singh is a good batsman but he is yet to play a single game for Punjab so far this year with the likes of Deepak Hooda and big-money signing Shahrukh Khan preferred over the right-hander.
Strongest Player – Jos Buttler
Following the injury to Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler is Rajasthan’s best player and perhaps most important as well. Buttler has so far scored 76 runs from three games. Buttler isn’t RR’s highest-scorer so far but his importance to the side and the impact he could have at the top of the order is unparalleled.
Weakest Player – Mayank Markande
Mayank Markande hasn’t been able to get a game for Rajasthan this season so far with the Royals going with Rahul Tewatia and Riyan Parag as their spin options.
Strongest Player – Jonny Bairstow
The English wicketkeeper-batsman has looked Sunrisers’ best player ahead of captain David Warner and scored the bulk of runs as well. Jonny Bairstow has scored 173 runs from four games, including two fifties.
Weakest Player – Vijay Shankar
Vijay Shankar is an unlikely name but he has failed to make an impact despite being given more chances ahead of the likes of Kedar Jadhav in the side. Shankar has scored just 42 runs from four games and taken two wickets.