Cricket expert Ryan Elliott, with a profit of +97.54pts, returns with an in-depth preview for the IPL 2021, as well as a number of betting tips.
IPL 2021 WinnerSee All Odds
The IPL is back! Just five months after the last offering in the UAE, the IPL returns to India for another fascinating bonanza of T20 cricket.
Last year, the Mumbai Indians, without doubt the best domestic T20 side in history, secured their 5th IPL title in pretty conclusive fashion, and they top the market yet again this time around.
Will Rohit Sharma and his men dominate once again? I take a look at the full market, pick out a couple of tips, before taking a deeper look into the eight sides competing in this year’s competition.
I’m not going to waste any time: I’m tipping the Mumbai Indians to win the 2021 IPL.
The reigning champs can be backed at 7/2 to lift the trophy on 30 May, and once again their squad looks absolutely frightening.
What I love about this side is the perfect blend between Indian talent and overseas stars. Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav—two players who burst onto the international scene against England last month—both enjoyed exceptional tournaments, while Quinton de Kock also dazzled, opening with Rohit Sharma who uncharacteristically struggled.
The sheer consistency of this top order (Kishan, de Kock and Suryakumar finished 5th, 6th and 7th in last season’s run chart respectively) enabled Mumbai’s gun finishers to unleash havoc without restraint pretty much every game they played.
Kieron Pollard’s strike rate of 191.42 was the best in last year’s competition, with Hardik Pandya’s 178.98 3rd on the list, and when you have two world class finishers concluding a well-constructed innings on a regular basis (plus Krunal Pandya, who is also very handy), you have an outfit who are incredibly difficult to beat.
Furthermore, a bowling attack built around Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult will provide immeasurable consistency, while Rahul Chahar and Krunal are also reliable spinners.
There are slight question marks over who the ideal third seamer should be, but when the rest of the side is as strong as it is, that question becomes almost trivial.
I’m also going to have a little flutter on the Sunrisers Hyderabad at 7/1.
David Warner’s side started slowly last year, and despite a pretty unfortunate injury crisis, they still managed to finish 3rd in last year’s competition.
I believe that this year, their squad looks even stronger, particularly if the big guns can be kept fit.
With the ball, the obvious superstar is Rashid Khan. The 22-year-old is so good that he’ll win you a number of games single-handedly over the course of a season, and for this reason alone you’d think the Sunrisers will be in the mix.
Then you have Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who comes into this tournament on the back of a really impressive white ball campaign against England, as well as yorker specialist T. Natarajan and Sandeep Sharma – both of whom I expect to improve further.
It’ll also be interesting to see how the Sunrisers use their overseas players. David Warner and Jonny Bairstow blew teams away a couple of years ago at the top of the order, but towards the end of last season the England man lost his place, which was somewhat vindicated by the outstanding efforts of Kane Williamson and Jason Holder.
It’s tough to predict how the Sunrisers will line-up this season, but this is a good problem to have, and they look to have a side who are capable of challenging Mumbai on their day.
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I’ll say a quick word about the remaining six sides, and why I believe they’re not quite up to the standards of the other two this season.
The Delhi Capitals, who finished 2nd last season, are definitely the team most likely to see both of my tips go up in smoke. The loss of captain Shreyas Iyer to injury is a big blow, and I’m not convinced the newly-recruited Steve Smith is quite the coup some think he is, but it’s also worth noting that despite reaching the final, Rishabh Pant had a stinker last year, and there’s simply no chance he’ll be as bad this time around.
Shimron Hetmyer and Marcus Stoinis (or even Sam Billings) have the capability to excel in the middle order, though the Australian definitely outperformed Hetmyer with the bat last season, while Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin have the spin department covered.
I’m also a big fan of South African duo Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, who were both outstanding in the UAE.
Delhi are second-favourites for a reason, and it would be foolish to overlook them.
Perennial under-achievers Royal Challengers Bangalore are 6/1 third-favourites this year, but I’m struggling to be bullish about them.
RCB’s USP has always been destructive batting, and Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell will certainly provide this over the course of the tournament.
However, batting-heavy sides are traditionally far less consistent than bowling-heavy ones, and this RCB bowling line-up is demonstrably weaker than a number of others in the competition.
Yuzvendra Chahal is an elite IPL spinner, and Navdeep Saini & Mohammed Siraj are impressive operators, but there may be a slight problem in their death bowling department, particularly in light of Chris Morris’ departure.
There will be plenty of pressure on big-money singing Kyle Jamieson to deliver with bat and ball, while Daniel Sams and Dan Christian will also be expected to perform at certain times.
I’m not convinced this RCB side is as balanced as it could be, particularly with the ball, and another season of disappointment beckons for Kohli and his men.
Next we look at the Kolkata Knight Riders, who were a strange and inconsistent team last year, and while there’s much I like about them, I’m not in a position to tip them up.
There’s much to admire about their attack: Pat Cummins struggled initially in the UAE but improved as last season’s competition went on, while Lockie Ferguson was a revelation in his enforcer role.
A mystery spinning pair of Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy are also capable of doing plenty of damage.
There’s also some real firepower within their batting, with Eoin Morgan, Andre Russell and Dinesh Karthik all excellent finishers, although Shubman Gill is their only top-order batsman who I can see performing consistently.
KKR are by no means out of the equation here, but for me they lack the consistency that some of the better sides possess in all aspects of the game.
Turning attention to the Chennai Super Kings next, and they’ve seemingly failed in shrugging off their ‘Dad’s Army’ tag after last season’s disastrous effort.
Faf du Plessis and Sam Curran were perhaps the only two players who could hold their heads high after that botched campaign, and with Moeen Ali and Robin Uthappa the only significant new signings—both of whom enjoying less-than-stellar seasons for RCB and RR respectively in 2020—I don’t believe they’ll be serious challengers.
One ray of hope for CSK, however, is that the return to Indian wickets will bring their spinners into play, and as a side who have always relied on this for success, they might be a little more confident than on the wickets over in the UAE.
Rajasthan Royals will have plenty of English interest surrounding them, but I’m still not quite sure they’re champions-in-waiting.
Losing Jofra Archer to injury, last season’s tournament MVP, is a huge blow, and while big-money signing Chris Morris can fulfil Archer’s role to a point, he’s still a lesser player (not to mention someone with his own injury issues in the past).
Last season showed Archer was RR’s only match-winner with the ball, and I’m not seeing enough bowling depth to cover for his loss.
The batting looks much better, and if Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson can find a good level of consistency, they’ll still believe they can do something special, but overall there are better squads out there.
Finally, we have outsiders Punjab Kings.
When your batting options consist of KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Dawid Malan and Nicolas Pooran, there’s the potential to dish out some real punishment, but Punjab’s bowling really worries me, with only Mohammad Shami likely to perform well on a regular basis.
With all this information in mind, bullishly backing Mumbai, alongside a little piece of 7/1 for the Sunrisers, is the way I’m going here.
IPL 2021 Top Batsman
My two tips for this year’s top batsman are both priced at 25/1: Ishan Kishan and Rishabh Pant, both each-way (5 places).
Kishan, who was last season’s 5th top run scorer, and also top six hitter, is a 22-year-old who I can only see improving, and his cameo against England was a taster of what to expect this season.
There is also the added bonus of Kishan being likely to play more games than a number of other players due to Mumbai’s likelihood of progressing to the latter stages.
At 25s, he’s a very good price – a future superstar.
25/1 for Pant is also far too big. He disappointed last season, but after his heroics against both England and Australia over the last couple of months, he’ll be absolutely brimming with confidence.
The wicketkeeper-batsman will also be the Capitals’ captain this season in Shreyas’ absence, and Pant comes across as a player who will take this in his stride, rather than see it as a burden.
Those at the top of the market: David Warner, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul will be in the mix come May, there’s no doubt about that, but if you want a slightly bigger price to play with, this is the way to go.
IPL 2021 Top Bowler
For top bowler, I have just one tip: Kagiso Rabada at 8/1 each-way.
Put simply, Rabada is an absolute gun. The South African took 30 wickets in last season’s competition, three more than anyone else, and in 2019 he was the 2nd top wicket-taker, just one behind Imran Tahir.
Rabada’s strike-rate of 13.18 is the best in IPL history, as is his average of 18.09. That is the mark of a truly special bowler, and Delhi will be delighted to have his services once again.