Indian Premier League

IPL 2021: Rating the Pre-Auction Strongest Playing 11 for All Teams

Mumbai Indians again the strongest team as we rate the IPL 2021 pre-auction strongest playing 11 of all the teams. 

The preparations for IPL 2021 have begun with a bang with teams announcing the list of their retained players on January 20th. Even without this being a mega auction, teams have been very cautious with the amount being spent on a few unproductive players.

If we look at the list of released players, there are some very big names, who had failed to perform in IPL 2020, but have been star performers in the International circuit. In case you need to revisit the list of retained players ahead of IPL 2021 Auction, here’s a detailed article: IPL 2021 Auction: Retained Squad List and Purse Left for all Teams.

With many star players being released, it has affected the balance of most of the teams. So, in this article, we will look at the rating comparison of the strongest playing 11 of all the teams ahead of IPL 2021 Auction. Let’s analyse the gaps teams have before Auction, which they will have to rectify in the Auction.

Please note, players are relatively rated basis the benchmark players. The rating for all the players is derived basis their last two year’s IPL performance, and their current International and Domestic form. Finally, an aggregate rating is taken to calculate the team ratings. 

Benchmark Players:

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

Alright then, let’s do a rating comparison of the strongest playing 11 of all the teams ahead of IPL 2021 Auction. 

#8: Rajasthan Royals – 8.24

Rajasthan Royals surprised everyone by letting go their captain and support system for so many years, Steve Smith. In the process, they announced a new young captain, Sanju Samson, who would be captaining an IPL side for the first time in his career. The team also released some more good players like Robin Uthappa, Oshane Thomas, Varun Aaron, and Tom Curran. 

As a result of these releases, the first-choice XI for Rajasthan Royals does take a hit. They now have Jos Buttler as their key opener alongside Manan Vohra or Yashasvi Jaiswal, with latter a more potent partner. Their strong middle-order consists of Captain Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, and David Miller.

Riyan Parag seems a decent option at 6 and Rahul Tewatia adds tremendous value at 7. The bowling looks decent with Archer leading the attack, and him being supported by Gopal, Unadkat, and Kartik Tyagi with Unadkat the only debatable name in the final 11. 

Rajasthan Royals (RR) strongest playing 11 before IPL 2021 Auction: 

Jos Buttler (WK), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson (C), Ben Stokes, David Miller, Riyan Parag, Rahul Tewatia, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat, and Kartik Tyagi.

#7: Royal Challengers Bangalore – 8.45

Royal Challengers Bangalore just keeps on making changes after changes every year in the Auction unlike a team like Mumbai Indians, SRH, or CSK, who keep trust in their first-choice players as well as most of the backups. This time around, RCB retained just 12 players, and traded-in 2 to make it a total of 14 retained players; the Lowest among all the teams. 

Looking at the current squad, RCB does have some solid 7-8 names on paper that can form a proper XI. However, the team doesn’t have good backups to complete a good XI. From the current strongest 11, there are high chances, the likes of Harshal Patel, Shahbaz Ahmad, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson, and Joshua Philippe might not make it to their final first-choice XI after Auction. 

Royal  Challengers Bangalore (RCB) strongest playing 11 before IPL 2021 Auction:

Devdutt Padikkal, Joshua Philippe (WK), Virat Kohli (C), Ab De Villiers, Shahbaz Ahmad, Washington Sundar, Harshal Patel, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson, Navdeep Saini, and Yuzvendra Chahal. 

#6: Kolkata Knight Riders – 8.46

Kolkata Knight Riders had a lot of under-performers last year, but even then they retained most of them. The only players they let go include overseas ones like Ali Khan, Chris Green, Harry Gurney, and Tom Banton. Thankfully, none of these players affect the first-choice XI for Kolkata Knight Riders. 

Looking at the current strongest XI, KKR can open with Shubman Gill and Rahul Tripathi or Nitish Rana as the second opener. The middle-order looks extremely strong with Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik, and Andre Russell. Sunil Narine can play the role of the floater, and Pat Cummins is a decent bat at 8.

The bowling looks potent but inexperienced with Prasidh Krishna and Shivam Mavi as the two pacers. Varun Chakravarthy was a find for KKR last year, and he shall be the lead spinner of the squad. That means Kuldeep will only be played if the pitch assists spinners. However, if I were the Captain, my first objective would be to boost Kuldeep’s confidence by giving him more matches as he is too good a player to miss out. 

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) strongest predicted playing 11 before IPL 2021 Auction:

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

#5: Kings XI Punjab – 8.51

KXIP looked the most confused team in IPL 2020 Auction, and during their team selections for the actual tournament. The good thing, however, is that they have released all their high paid Underperformers like Glenn Maxwell and Sheldon Cottrell and high paid under-utilized players like Karun Nair, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, and Krishnappa Gowtham. As a result, KXIP are now  left with the maximum purse amount of INR 53Cr. ahead of IPL 2021 Auction. 

Looking at the current squad, the top 4 remain unchanged as they had played in IPL 2020. The lower-order looks inexperienced in the form of Mandeep Singh, Deepak Hooda, and Chris Jordan. The team lacks a solid all-rounder. The bowling has potential, but looks inexperienced with Ravi Bishnoi, Murugan Ashwin, and Arshdeep Singh. Meanwhile, Shami and Jordan seem the only solid options in the bowling department. 

Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) strongest playing 11 before IPL 2021 Auction:

KL Rahul (C&WK), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Mandeep Singh, Deepak Hooda, Chris Jordan, Ravi Bishnoi, Murugan Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, and Arshdeep Singh. 

#4: Chennai Super Kings – 8.66

Chennai Super Kings’ big news ahead of IPL 2021 was the retention of Suresh Raina, who had withdrawn from IPL 2020 citing personal reasons. The team, however, let go of some costly names in the form of Kedar Jadhav, Piyush Chawla, Harbhajan Singh, and Shane Watson. While some of these were first-choice players, some weren’t. The team also traded-in Robin Uthappa from RR in an all-cash deal. 

Looking at the current team, Faf du Plessis and Ruturaj Seem the best option to open. Raina, their MVP till 2019 seem the best bet again at 3 followed by Rayudu and captain, Dhoni himself. The trio all-rounder of Bravo, Jaddu and Curran looks great at 6, 7 & 8. If CSK are playing on spin-friendly pitches, then they should definitely play Tahir, who was shockingly underplayed in 2020. 

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) strongest playing 11 before IPL 2021 Auction:

Faf du Plessis, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (C&WK), Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Curran, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, and Imran Tahir/Lungi Ngidi. 

#3: Sunrisers Hyderabad – 8.68

Sunrisers Hyderabad retained the maximum number of players ahead of IPL 2021 Auction, and as a result, they have a squad that is going to be identical to their IPL 2020 best 11. The only good players they let go are Fabien Allen and Billy Stanlake; both of which would anyway not have had a chance of playing in the final 11. 

So, looking at the current squad and IPL 2020’s Team selections, the top 5 players remain unchanged with Warner and Saha opening and Williamson, Pandey & Garg to follow; although Garg should bat at 3 Ideally with Pandey playing as a Finisher. Holder and Abhishek Sharma can play the role of all-rounders and Rashid Khan, Bhuvi, Sandeep Sharma, and T Natarajan complete the bowling department. 

Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) strongest playing 11 before IPL 2021 Auction:

David Warner (C), Wriddhiman Saha (WK), Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Priyam Garg, Abhishek Sharma, Jason Holder, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sandeep Sharma, and T Natarajan. 

#2: Delhi Capitals – 8.75

Delhi Capitals retained almost all their core players ahead of IPL 2021 Auction. The only key players they let go, and that seems logical too are Jason Roy, Keemo Paul, Daniel Sams, Mohit Sharma & Sandeep Lamichhane. However, they retained Chris Woakes, who had backed out of IPL 2020. Overall, none of the released players was first-choice players, and hence, their current strongest XI doesn’t get affected. 

Looking at the current list of retained players, Delhi Capitals will have to make a decision between Ajinkya Rahane and Prithvi Shaw for the opening slot. They can also play Marcus Stoinis as the opener with Rahane following him. The other decision would be to choose Ashwin or Mishra as their second spinner. Whereas Anrich Nortje and Chris Woakes shall fight for the second pacer slot. 

Delhi Capitals (DC) strongest playing 11 before IPL 2021 Auction:

Shikhar Dhawan, Marcus Stoinis, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer (C), Rishabh Pant (WK), Shimron Hetmyer, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin/ Amit Mishra, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, and Ishant Sharma. 

#1: Mumbai Indians – 9.0

Mumbai Indians surprised everyone by letting go their pace battery as 4 overseas pacers were released from the squad ahead of IPL 2021 Auction. The list includes Lasith Malinga, Mitchell McClenaghan, James Pattinson, and Nathan Coulter-Nile. This is a surprise as never did I imagine Mumbai Indians would release 4 foreign players together in a mini-Auction. The team also released surplus Sherfane Rutherford. 

As a result of their current retentions, Mumbai Indians have a good team of 10 players, who can straight-away be a part of first-choice XI. However, it is the lack of a secondary pacer that they are currently missing. Dhawal Kulkarni seems the best option to play that role in the meantime. So, here’s how the strongest playing 11 looks like for Mumbai Indians ahead of IPL 2021 Auction. 

Mumbai Indians (MI) strongest playing 11 before IPL 2021 Auction:

Rohit Sharma (C), Quinton De Kock (WK), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jasprit Bumrah, and Trent Boult. 

So, that’s how the teams stand when it comes to the strongest playing 11 ahead of IPL 2021 Auction.

Thanks for reading! Looking at the strongest playing 11 of all the teams, who team looks the strongest? Please email your comments on

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