IPL 2021 Exclusive: Ranking the Best Playing XI of all the Teams

Mumbai Indians, the best team on paper as we rank the best playing 11 of all the teams for IPL 2021. 

With IPL just around 10 days away, the teams are currently regrouping for the pre-tournament training camps, and adjusting themselves in the biosecure bubble. While the teams regroup themselves, the hottest topic among all cricket fans and analyst across the globe is on the best-possible playing 11 of all the teams for IPL 2021.

The playing 11 prediction is always a fascinating topic as what we analyze on the playing 11 combinations on paper may not exactly be replicated by teams on the field. That’s mostly because the playing 11 combinations change for teams depending on players’ availability, their current form, and pitch conditions. 

While we cannot know the variables until the day of the match, the strongest or best playing 11 is selected assuming all the players are available and fit to play. Moreover, any selected playing 11 is pitch agnostic, and more stress has been given to a player’s potential while selecting. 

In my previous articles, I did cover the strongest playing 11 for all the teams. However, in this article, I would be rating the strongest or best playing 11 of all the teams for IPL 2021. It is important to note that the playing 11 ranking is derived basis the team rating, which is derived basis the weighted average rating of all players.

Players are relatively rated basis the benchmark players, and the rating for all the players is derived basis their last two year’s IPL performance, and their current International or Domestic form. Before moving ahead, here are the benchmark players for IPL 2021, against whom all players are relatively rated. 

Benchmark Players for IPL 2021:

  • Opener: KL Rahul
  • Middle-order: AB de Villiers
  • All-rounder: Hardik Pandya
  • Spinner: Rashid Khan
  • Pacer: Jasprit Bumrah

Alright then, let’s look at the ranking of the best playing 11 of all the teams for IPL 2021. 


#8: Rajasthan Royals – 8.30

The already not so strong Rajasthan Royals felt a major blow as their best trump card and key pacer, Jofra Archer was ruled out of IPL 2021. This is a big blow for them as Jofra Archer has been a true match-winner for them in the last few years. With Jofra not there, the playing XI combination does change a bit for RR. 

The originally strong RR team for IPL 2021 had one major problem, and that was their relatively fragile lower middle-order. They had to rely on Shivam Dube, Morris, Tewatia, and Riyan Parag for finishing duties. With Jofra not there, RR should look to play either David Miller or Liam Livingstone to boost their batting. 

If RR play Liam Livingstone then he can play as an opener for Jaiswal with Stokes at 4. However, if Miller is played, which is more lethal then Sanju can play freely as an opener, and Killer can do the finishing duties at 5. In any which case, Jaydev Unadkat would be played as the third pacer of the squad. Given they have 8 bowling options with this, RR would not need 4 overs from Unadkat. 

Rajasthan Royals (RR) Strongest Playing 11 for IPL 2021: 

Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson (C&WK), Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag, David Miller, Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Rahul Tewatia, Jaydev Unadkat, Shreyas Gopal & Kartik Tyagi.

#7: Kolkata Knight Riders – 8.45

Just like RR, KKR are highly dependant on their overseas players. The top 4 first-choice overseas players for them are Eoin Morgan, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, and Pat Cummins. Among Indian players, it is Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, and V Chakravarthy who should take the centre stage. 

Looking at the KKR’s playing 11, the top 3 is still a worry for them. While Gill, Tripathi, and Rana are slightly experienced guys, they aren’t in the league of KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, and Chris Gayle in the top-order. However, they have the strongest middle-order in the competition with the likes of Karthik, Russell, and Morgan.

Coming to bowling, there is a lot of potential, but there is still inexperience there. The likes of Shivam Mavi and Prasidh Krishna are still making a name for themselves, and it would not be wise to rely on them completely. Meanwhile, Narine, Varun Chakravarthy, and Pat Cummins would lead the bowling line-up for KKR.

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) Strongest Playing 11 for IPL 2021:

Rahul Tripathi, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (C), Dinesh Karthik (WK), Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy & Prasidh Krishna.

#6: Royal Challengers Bangalore – 8.63

Virat Kohli led Royal Challengers Bangalore would see a few new names for IPL 2021 as compared to their team for IPL 2020. The overseas combination should see explosive Glenn Maxwell, Dan Christian, and Kyle Jamieson playing a major role in the team. Barring them, Mohd. Azharuddeen, Sachin Baby, Finn Allen should also play a crucial role in the team. 

Analyzing RCB’s team, the top 4 looks solid with Kohli, Padikkal, Abd and Maxi. However, it is the lower middle-order that is a problem area for RCB. If the top 4 are bundled out for low scores, then RCB could be in a dangerous situation. The bowling, however, looks good for RCB with Chahal, Siraj, Jamieson, Sundar, Saini, and Christian taking the charge. 

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) Strongest Playing 11 for IPL 2021:

Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli (C), Ab de Villiers, Glenn Maxwell, Mohd. Azharuddeen (WK), Dan Christian, Washington Sundar, Kyle Jamieson, Mohd. Siraj, Navdeep Saini & Yuzvendra Chahal. 

#5: Punjab Kings – 8.64

The newly named side, Punjab Kings (formerly Kings XI Punjab) made a lot of noise in the IPL 2021 Auction. They had some really expensive buys in the form of Jhye Richardson, Riley Meredith, and Shahrukh Khan. However, two of these may not even be the first-choice options for the team. With KL Rahul as the captain and their best player, the team would be dependant on Shami, Mayank, Gayle, Pooran, and Jhye Richardson to have a successful campaign. 

Analysing PBKS’ playing 11, the top 5 is the most dangerous one among all teams. The likes of KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Dawid Malan, and Nicholas Pooran. All are capable of turning the match on their own. Even Mandeep at 6 ain’t a bad option. The team can easily give a headache to the best of the bowling line-ups.

The problem for PBKS starts in the bowling department. The team has a lot of potential, but it devoid of experience. Barring Mohammed Shami and somewhat Jhye Richardson, Ravi Bishnoi, Murugan Ashwin, and Arshdeep are all Uncapped and inexperienced. If the bowlers don’t perform well, it could be a problem for PBKS. Moreover, the team lacks good all-rounders, which is again a defining area. 

Punjab Kings (PBKS) Strongest Playing 11 for IPL 2021: 

KL Rahul (C&WK), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Dawid Malan, Nicholas Pooran, Mandeep Singh, Jhye Richardson, Ravi Bishnoi, Murugan Ashwin, Mohammed Shami & Arshdeep Singh. 

#4: Delhi Capitals – 8.65

The biggest news for Delhi Capitals is the unavailability of their captain, Shreyas Iyer for IPL 2021. Shreyas injured his shoulder during the first ODI vs England, and would be unavailable for the entire IPL. With Iyer not there, uncertainty looms over the captaincy of the Delhi Capitals. It won’t be wise for Delhi to look at an overseas captain, hence one of Pant, Dhawan, or Ashwin should take the charge. 

Nevertheless, in the absence of Iyer, Delhi have no other option than to play Shaw and Rahane; both. This seems to be the only weak link in Delhi’s line-up. If Shaw can continue his form from domestic cricket, it would be a huge blessing for the team. Nevertheless, with Shaw and Rahane in the top-order, DC’s 2020 opener, Marcus Stoinis would now have to play as a finisher at 5 or 6. 

Delhi Capitals (DC) Strongest Playing 11 for IPL 2021:

Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (WK), Marcus Stoinis, Shimron Hetmyer, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje & Ishant Sharma. 

#3: Chennai Super Kings – 8.66

Having finished 7th in IPL 2020, CSK would be somewhat under pressure to keep the ball rolling. Not that CSK had or have a bad team. It is just the form of a few key players that troubled them last year. With a capable leader in MS Dhoni, CSK would be willing and itching to get back to winning ways, and be the team they are. 

Analysing their team, the addition of Moeen Ali gives them a lot of balance. They have the liberty to play 3 spinners and 3 pacers in the squad, and can adapt to any pitch. The addition of Raina gives them a solid number 3. They should also include Tahir in the bowling attack to add more wicket-taking option.

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) Strongest Playing 11 for IPL 2021:

Faf du Plessis, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (C&WK), Moeen Ali, Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Curran, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar & Imran Tahir. 

#2: Sunrisers Hyderabad – 8.70

Sunrisers Hyderabad had a settled XI even before the IPL 2021 Auction. However, with Kedar Jadhav coming in, the playing 11 combination does change a bit for them. The overseas combination should still be the same in the form of David Warner, Kane Williamson, Jason Holder, and Rashid Khan. Hence, Jonny Bairstow would have to warm the bench at the start.

If you look at SRH’s playing XI, Saha is set to open with Warner with Williamson and Pandey following him. Their only problem could be a slight fragile but attacking lower-order of Kedar Jadhav, Abdul Samad, and Jason Holder. Meanwhile, their strength is their bowling, and all their bowlers seem to be in good form. 

Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) Strongest Playing 11 for IPL 2021:

David Warner (C), Wriddhiman Saha (WK), Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Abdul Samad, Jason Holder, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sandeep Sharma & T Natarajan. 

#1: Mumbai Indians – 9.07

Without a doubt, Mumbai Indians still have the best playing 11 in the tournament. 10 of their first-choice players for IPL 2021 were also a part of the IPL 2020 winning team. In fact, the new playing 11 member, Nathan Coulter-Nile did play a few matches for MI last year. In addition, MI bought Piyush Chawla, Marco Jensen, Jimmy Neesham, and Adam Milne

If you look at MI’s strongest playing XI, you would hardly find any flaws there. They have a solid opening pair, a potent middle-order, an aggressive lower-order, and a well-balanced bowling attack. The only minor issue for Mumbai Indians could be Hardik Pandya’s bowling. If he doesn’t bowl then MI would once again have to rely upon 5 bowlers strategy. 

Mumbai Indians (MI) Strongest Playing 11 for IPL 2021:

Rohit Sharma (C), Quinton de Kock (WK), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Trent Boult & Jasprit Bumrah. 

So, that’s how all the teams stand when it comes to their strongest playing 11 for IPL 2021. Mumbai Indians, Delhi Capitals, Sunrisers Hyderabad, and Chennai Super Kings should be the team to watch out for in IPL 2021. 

Thanks for reading! Looking at the playing 11 of all the teams for IPL 2021, which one feels the best? Please email your thoughts to business@cricalytics.com


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