Due to the COVID-19 pandemic still raging in many parts of the country, matches for IPL 2021 have been scheduled to take place in only six cities, namely - New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
Even though the 'home and away' concept has been retained to make scheduling less complicated, there will be no home advantage as none of the teams are going to play on their home turf.
While some grounds like the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi and the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai are known to favour slow bowling, stadiums like the Wankhede in Mumbai offer a bit of movement and bounce to pacers.
Keeping the varying nature of the pitches in mind, franchises that possess the most depth and versatility in their squad might go into IPL 2021 with a little bit of an advantage.
3 teams that have the advantage despite not playing games on home venues in IPL 2021
Our analysis for this purpose is based on the kind of pitches on which the teams are going to play most of their matches, their batting strength and the bowling armoury they possess to be able to consistently win matches in any condition.
Let's have a look at the three teams who will feel right at home in IPL 2021 despite not getting to play there:
1) Mumbai Indians (MI)
Mumbai Indians' well-rounded squad and the way they streamrolled opponents on the way to their fifth IPL title last season in the alien conditions of UAE, automatically makes them the favorites to be able to tackle whatever conditions they are offered.
Ably led by the astute Rohit Sharma, MI will be playing nine of their fourteen matches on the traditionally slow and spin-friendly pitches of Delhi and Chennai.
In Piyush Chawla, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar and Jayant Yadav, Rohit has a lot of experience and skill to attack with if the pitches turn. Add to that the clever variations someone like Kieron Pollard or James Neesham brings and Mumbai have a problem of plenty in their bowling department.
MI's batting is quite settled and perhaps one of the best in the tournament. Destructive openers in Rohit and Quinton de Kock will be followed by the fearless duo of Surya Kumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan; and if the opposition bowlers somehow manage to get past the top 4, they'll only find the Pandya brothers and Polly waiting to finish the carnage.
And this isn't even their full squad! Experienced campaigners like Saurabh Tiwary and Aditya Tare are handy backups and will be hungry for their opportunities along with young guns Arjun Tendulkar, Anukul Roy, Yudhvir Singh, Mohsin Khan and the much-talked-about South African Marco Jansen.
With personnel so strong, a hat-trick of IPL titles for Rohit's men appears a lot more attainable than it should in the normal course of things.
2) Delhi Capitals (DC)
Runners-up in IPL 2020, Delhi Capitals play five matches at Kolkata's Eden Gardens and two at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, both venues traditionally known to aid slow bowling.
Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje formed a fearsome pace-bowling combo in UAE during IPL 2020 and will once again be a handful on Mumbai's Wankhede, where Delhi play three matches. The presence of Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Tom Curran and Chris Woakes means captain Rishabh Pant will have plenty of options to choose from.
DC's batting department looks a million dollars too, though they'll miss the calm presence of Shreyas Iyer (ruled out of IPL 2021 with shoulder injury) in the middle order.
Shikhar Dhawan was in fine form in IPL 2020 and will once again be a threat, while Prithvi Shaw looks to have returned to his destructive best if his exploits in the Vijay Hazare Trophy are anything to go by. With Steve Smith, Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis and Sam Billings in their armoury, Pant has plenty of options when it comes to foreign batsmen.
The explosive Pant is himself in cracking form and will also have the calm Ajinkya Rahane to bank upon if things get sticky in the middle. They've got some new faces too who can spring a few surprises - most notably left-arm seamer Lukman Meriwala and wicketkeeper batsman Vishnu Vinod, both of whom impressed in the VHT.
3) Punjab Kings (PBKS)
KL Rahul led Punjab Kings' main strength lies in the sheer explosiveness they possess in their batting department. Punjab play five matches at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, where Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers have made merry over the years playing for RCB.
The Preity Zinta-owned franchise will also play four matches at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, which had pitches as flat as cement in the recently concluded limited overs series between India and England.
Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Dawid Malan, Nicholas Pooran and Fabian Allen are not names bowlers would like to face on batting beauties. There are other hitters too, like Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Deepak Hooda who have time and again played important knocks for diferent franchises over the years. The much-talked-about Shahrukh Khan is also a smart acquisition.
Punjab have also got three matches at the Wankhede, where they can utilise the pace abilities of Mohammed Shami, Jhye Richardson, Riley Meredith, Chris Jordan, Arshdeep Singh and Ishan Porel. Big-hitting allrounder Moises Henriques too can prove handy with his variations.
The only area where they do not look too threatening is the spin department, with leggies Murugan Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi being the only experienced tweakers. It will be interesting to see if Punjab give offie Jalaj Saxena a few opportunities in IPL 2021 as the hard-working allrounder has consistently featured in the highest wicket-takers' list in the past few Ranji Trophy seasons.