The BCCI announced the fixtures of the remaining Indian Premier League 2021 matches on Sunday, July 25. Earlier in July, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and Secretary Jay Shah were in UAE to finalize the details of the tournament.
The tournament, which was put on hold in May amidst the terrible second wave of Covid-19 cases in India, will resume on September 19 in the United Arab Emirates. The second leg will see a total of 31 games being played over a span of 27 days. The remaining matches will be held across three venues – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah. Dubai will host 13 games, including the final, which is scheduled to be held on October 15, while Sharjah will host 10 games and Abu Dhabi will host the remaining eight. Dubai is scheduled to host the first Qualifier on October 10, Sharjah will host the second Qualifier on October 13, and Eliminator on October 11. The second leg will see seven double headers taking place, at the same time as before resumption (3:30 PM IST for the afternoon matches and 7:30 PM IST for the evening matches). Second positioned Chennai Super Kings take on defending champions Mumbai Indians in the opening match of the second leg in Dubai, with Royal Challengers Bangalore facing Kolkata Knight Riders in Abu Dhabi the following day. The Knight Riders and Royal Challengers clash was the first game that was postponed in the first leg, when the Covid cases breached the IPL bubble. Sharjah will witness its first game a few days later on October 24 when Royal Challengers Bangalore faces the Chennai Super Kings.
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With Delhi Capitals, Chennai Super Kings, and Royal Challengers Bangalore looking to seal their playoff spots, the remaining four teams barring Hyderabad all have an outside chance to make it through to the playoffs. Chennai, who after a disastrous 2020 season, have bounced back strongly, along with Mumbai Indians, and they will be favorites to go through to the playoffs comfortably. Current table-toppers Delhi Capitals are also almost certain to head through.
Bangalore, who endured a torrid few seasons heading into the 2021 IPL season, finally seemed to have found the right balance and would look to break the trophy drought this year. Finding the perfect balance of youth with the likes Devdutt Padikkal, Washington Sundar and Kyle Jamieson along with experience of Glenn Maxwell and Dan Christian, Bangalore finally have a team that not solely depends on Kohli and De Villiers. Given their explosive batting lineup along with the grounds in the UAE, Bangalore will definitely fancy their chances to take a shot at the title. Chennai Super Kings are another team who will be looking forward to the resumption. Already having found their rhythm, the Super Kings are one of the few sides in the tournament that won’t really mind the World T20 being so close to the IPL. Majority of the Chennai squad, will not be going to the T20 World Cup but the will be wary of the conditions, given a year ago, they finished last in the 2020 edition in the same venue. Mumbai Indians, who have had a hot and cold IPL, will look to get back to their scintillating best when the tournament resumes and regain some of the form from last season’s IPL. On paper, the Mumbai squad are practically the best in the tournament with players for every condition, but Mumbai will look to not get complacent to record sixth IPL trophy. Delhi Capitals, who have more or less secured their playoff spot, need just one more win to seal it. Punjab, who had a stellar start to the season, seemed to have dropped off by the end of the Indian leg and will look to get back to winning ways with Rajasthan and Kolkata having to play out of their skins to make it to the playoffs.
With travel restrictions and the T20 World Cup starting from October 17, two days after the IPL final, it will be interesting to see the composition of some of the teams heading into the second leg.