DC and CSK will face off in Qualifier 1, whose loser will face the winner of the Eliminator between the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). While the Mumbai Indians (MI) missed out on a playoff spot due to net run rate, the Punjab Kings (PBKS), the Rajasthan Royals (RR) and the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) were a cut below the rest in IPL 2021's league stage.
Here is the best playing XI from the league stage of IPL 2021. The tournament rule which stipulates that only four overseas players can be part of the playing XI has been followed.
Honorable Mentions: Jasprit Bumrah, Varun Chakravarthy, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Jason Holder, Shikhar Dhawan, Rahul Tripathi, Faf du Plessis
Openers: Ruturaj Gaikwad, KL Rahul
Fourth on the IPL 2021 Orange Cap list with 533 runs, Ruturaj Gaikwad has been immense for CSK this year. He has been unstoppable since overcoming a slow start to the season, with Player of the Match awards and fifty records studding what has been a splendid captain. The CSK opener will want to overcome his short-ball woes and push his case to be retained ahead of the mega-auction.
KL Rahul played with restraint for most of IPL 2021, but he still managed to aggregate 626 runs at a stupendous average of 62.6. His middle order meant that he couldn't play his natural game, but he was once again the standout Indian batter in IPL 2021. However, Rahul isn't the captain of this best XI, with PBKS missing out on the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season.
Middle Order: Moeen Ali, Sanju Samson, Rishabh Pant (c & wk)
Signed to fill an off-spin void, Moeen Ali has helped CSK's middle order become the best team in the toughest phase of the innings (overs 7-15). Although his form has dropped off slightly in the UAE leg, the Englishman has tallied 304 runs and picked up five wickets.
Two of India's brightest young keepers, Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson, complete the middle order of this best IPL 2021 XI. While Pant hasn't been at his fluent batting best, he led the Delhi Capitals to a top-of-the-table finish with his bold captaincy. Samson, meanwhile, had his best IPL season to date as he batted with responsibility and skill.
All-rounders: Glenn Maxwell, Ravindra Jadeja
RCB have managed to truly unleash Glenn Maxwell's potential in the IPL. The Aussie is the team's highest run-scorer this season and is placed fifth in the IPL 2021 Orange Cap list. Picking him in this best XI is a no-brainer.
Ravindra Jadeja has one of the highest averages in IPL 2021 and has been a reliable finisher for CSK. His explosive batting at the death, combined with his impeccable control over the middle overs and world-class fielding, have made him a favorite for the MVP award.
Bowlers: Rashid Khan, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Anrich Nortje
In a terrible season for SRH, Rashid Khan has once again been the shining light. The Afghan spinner has been as unreadable as ever and is a sureshot retention ahead of next year's mega-auction.
Harshal Patel has been one of the biggest success stories of IPL 2021. Signed via trade from DC, the RCB pacer has been unplayable at the death with his cutters and slower balls. He is running away with the Purple Cap and could end up with the most prolific season by a bowler in IPL history.
The DC pace duo of Avesh Khan and Anrich Nortje have overshadowed even the illustrious Kagiso Rabada in IPL 2021. While Avesh has been a breakout star and could soon make his way into the Indian team across formats, Nortje has impressed all with his express pace and control.