Who will win IPL 2021?

The season of the Indian Premier League is here and we can't keep calm. After the 13th edition had to be shifted out of its original slot due to the once-in-a-generation pandemic, UAE hosted it in a glitzy manner. The absence of the crowd was not even felt due to the broadcaster's innovation and cricket stood centre stage.

As we gear up for the 14th edition, starting from April 9 in a cluster-caravan format, it promises to be another exciting season. Predicting the outcome of an open edition like the forthcoming one can be really, really tricky, but using equal measures of analysis, statistics, our prediction model powered by Artificial Intelligence, we bring to you a full-on walkthrough of how you can make money by laying your trust in the right teams in a week's time.

Mumbai Indians: 4.33

Captain: Rohit Sharma

Coach: Mahela Jayawardene

"Mumbai Indians is definitely a better team than Indian T20 team" - quipped Michael Vaughan in his usual triggered manner to generate a chain reaction from the section of cricket fans who were all rallying against him. That is a debate that will go on till the cows come home but if the Rohit-Reliance formula has anything to go by, there is hardly any clear logic to break the shackles. The defining story of the last decade, Mumbai Indians cantered to win the 2020 IPL with some swagger and exemplification.

The side boasts arguably the finest batting order any T20 team can have, with Rohit Sharma - a world-class limited-overs player, being overshadowed by the likes of Quinton de Kock, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya. This is as good a team as it ever gets with Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult providing uncanny bowling options in both powerplay and death. The combo's brilliance was shown in the last edition and now that they have both Nathan Coulter-Nile and Adam Milne in their arsenal, it is pragmatic to expect the duo to set the stage on fire, especially with the defending champions not playing any match on the flat Wankhede Stadium. Mumbai Indians having odds of 4.33 which are solid enough to ramp up the pocket. Go big on this!

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Delhi Capitals: 6.50

Captain : Shreyas Iyer

Coach : Ricky Ponting

Delhi Capitals are all set to build a dynasty of their own. Trust me when I say this because there is a reason it is so. The 2020 edition was not an exception but rather a norm to be. Backed by JSW's structure, they invested in the right place to reap dividends in a season that had many high points. With a fine cocktail of youth and experience, they kept on winning and the players (Read: Marcus Stoinis), who were a flop in other franchises, played with a lot of purpose and confidence.

The 6.50 odds are the indication of their prowess. The top order has a problem of plenty while the bowling department is as lethal as ever. The raw pace that Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje generate packed with the willy addition of Lukman Meriwala, who averaged 13.26 in the recently-concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, gives them a different dimension. There is Avesh Khan too, whose 14 wickets from five SMAT games was among the best performances among all bowlers. There is visibly no chink in the armour and given the side is marshalled by Ricky Ponting, one can be assured of his impact rubbing on the team like it had last year.

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Royal Challengers Bangalore: 6.50

Captain - Virat Kohli

Coach - Simon Katich

This must be a surprise, no? Especially for the fact that RCB have similar odds as that of Delhi Capitals? But from a figurative stand-point, this makes complete sense and we will get to the why. The fact that Royal Challengers Bangalore spent an unimaginable amount to secure the services of Glenn Maxwell and Kyle Jamieson filled in some of their voids. The addition of Finn Allen and Mohammed Azharuddin have also solved the wicket-keeper conundrum that had to be taken care of by AB de Villiers last year. That points to a more systematic approach for the RCB this year.

There is another big influencing factor in this as well. However funny it seems, Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore has been disadvantageous to them in the past, with the side hardly boasting a quality pacer to dominate batsmen on smaller boundaries. But this year, given the fact that RCB will play as many as five matches in Kolkata to go with three games each in Ahmedabad and Chennai, things might fall in RCB’s favour this season as Bet365 proposes a 6.50 odds for the Virat Kohli-led side.

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Kolkata Knight Riders 6.50

Captain : Eoin Morgan

Coach : Brendon McCullum

The change in captaincy couldn’t bring a change in fortune for the Kolkata-based franchise last year and the reticent cricket that they played brought a lot of attention to the fore. However, with Eoin Morgan coming up with his set template and a ready-made plan for the IPL 2021, there is a sense that it will do KKR a lot of good when it comes to the IPL.

Then you reckon, how come they have been placed so down the order in terms of being favourites? The clear answer is the mercurial nature of their top order and the instability of the batsmen following them. Shubman Gill plays within himself, while the lack of a Narine-kind of a batsman at the top, which has resulted in the teams choosing to push KKR to the brink. The bowlers are terrific but a lot of it will depend on how the team utilises the resources.

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Sunrisers Hyderabad 7.00

Captain: David Warner

Coach: Trevor Bayliss

Sunrisers Hyderabad only had window shopping to do in the 2021 IPL auction and by the requirement of it, they did a great job. But do bear in mind, with overseas spinners galore, they have a little space to utilise the services of Mohammed Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman and all of the problems begin there. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mitchell Marsh are two injury-prone players, while Sidharth Kaul and Sandeep Sharma’s utility can only be as much.

The top-order, once again, will have to do the heavy-lifting so as to reduce the stress from a rather inexperienced middle-order, manned by Abdul Samad and Abhishek Sharma. Even if Kedar Jadhav is inducted, it can only reduce the danger but no way to escape from it. Thus it is only prudent that our Intelligence Model, backed by AI, suggests that Sunrisers Hyderabad will finish outside of the playoffs race.

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Chennai Super Kings: 8.00

Captain - MS Dhoni

Coach - Stephen Fleming

It is extremely rare to see CSK in the bracket of the last four, for they have qualified for the playoffs in each but one edition of the league so far, but with such abysmal returns in the 2020 IPL, one would be hard-pressed to imagine otherwise. MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina have minimal match practice with other players going through a rough patch. The pace combo of Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar has grown in stature, but the injury to Ravindra Jadeja has meant a clear hit in their plans and CSK would want to reconsider them.

Even when the others didn’t hit the strap in 2018 and 2019, MS Dhoni’s greatness as captain and the Chepauk factor helped the team eke out a coup, but the same couldn’t be replicated the very next year when the caravan moved to UAE. Now that CSK will play most of their matches in batting-friendly venues, one can rest assured that the level of impact of the three-time champions, will be minimal

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Rajasthan Royals 10.00

Captain: Sanju Samson

Coach: Kumar Sangakkara (Coach cum Director)

Rajasthan Royals ended as the wooden spooner last season and the frustration regarding Steve Smith’s form brought about a complete overhaul of their plans. Kumar Sangakkara took over as the Director of Cricket cum Head Coach, and Sanju Samson became the new captain. The team broke the bank for Chris Morris after releasing Steve Smith. There is a certain hope in their arsenal but our Artificial Intelligence tracker, analysing the strengths and weaknesses of the teams, has given a very little chance to the Manoj Badale-owned team.

The 10.00 odds justify just that. Dig a bit deeper and you see a consultant strategic mishit from the Rajasthan Royals side. Their rigid overseas policy meant they have to play Ben Stokes no matter what, but the all-rounder has blown hot and cold in the recent IPLs. Which has brought them down on more than one occasion. The franchise let Robin Uthappa, one of the tallest run-makers in the domestic cricket this season, to Chennai Super Kings, which creates a void up on the top which is another point of contention for the Rajasthan Royals. Overall, we do believe them winning the IPL is a long shot.

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Punjab Kings: 10.00

Captain : KL Rahul

Coach : Anil Kumble

If Cricket was run on paper, Punjab Kings would've been a run-away IPL winner, and then they wouldn't have to change their name either. But such has been the obsession for change that the franchise, despite boasting of some of the best talents around the world, has flattered to deceive season after season. Even a great IPL auction, where they had the sweeping stakes at the bag with a 53 Crore purse, failed to attract anything worthwhile according to

our AI machine.

With Rahul, Mayank, Gayle, and Pooran, they might have had a great batting line-up but their biggest problem over the years has been their bowling, with Mohammed Shami, a great wicket-taker, might not be a great run container. They have unearthed Arshdeep Singh to take the mantle in the middle but Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith are not really equipped to do the death over the job. This has created a complicated scenario for them. Their expectations to win the league for the first time, are nowx a distant dream.

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