The 2021 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been indefinitely postponed, and cricketers involved in the tournament are beginning to make their way back home.
The halfway point of the league stage witnessed the IPL unravel completely, as multiple players and members of the support staff from many franchises tested positive for COVID-19. The blow came as a shock, as the IPL had proceeded without incident for almost 30 games.
It remains to be seen when we will see our favorite stars in action again. But for now, we predict where the eight teams would have ended up on the points table at the end of the league stage.
#8 Sunrisers Hyderabad - currently 8th in IPL 2021
SRH are a franchise in deep turmoil, and it's very tough to imagine them moving even one place higher than 8th. After sacking David Warner and appointing Kane Williamson as captain, the Orange Army plummeted to a devastating defeat at the hands of the Rajasthan Royals.
SRH are half the team without Warner, who is arguably the greatest player to have turned out for the franchise. With the middle order misfiring, T Natarajan ruled out with injury, Manish Pandey struggling at the top and Bhuvneshwar Kumar looking out of sorts, Williamson's side would've probably been rooted to the bottom of the points table throughout IPL 2021.
#7 Punjab Kings - currently 6th in IPL 2021
Captain KL Rahul was expected to miss most of the league stage before the IPL was postponed due to appendicitis. In the absence of their skipper and most important batsman, PBKS would've found wins difficult to come by.
The bowling attack led PBKS down consistently in IPL 2021, with new recruits Jhye Richardson, Riley Meredith and Moises Henriques failing to impress. The spin attack was boosted by the late addition of Ravi Bishnoi, but the overseas contingent disappointed. Quality all-rounders are nowhere to be found in this PBKS squad, while not a single player delivered what was asked of them consistently.
PBKS might have been able to record a couple of wins thanks to the star power they possess, but probably wouldn't have been anywhere near a playoff spot.
#6 Rajasthan Royals - currently 5th in IPL 2021
New captain Sanju Samson cut a lonely figure for RR in IPL 2021, as Ben Stokes joined Jofra Archer on the injury list. With a few other players having withdrawn from the tournament, the inaugural IPL champions relied completely on Samson, Jos Buttler and Chris Morris to win them games.
Chetan Sakariya and Mustafizur Rahman were the bright spots for RR in the pace department, with the middle order rarely coming up with meaningful contributions. RR's spin attack was almost non-existent in IPL 2021, and U-19 stars Yashasvi Jaiswal and Kartik Tyagi weren't part of the team for the first few games.
Overall, RR would've managed to rack up a win or two, as Buttler was hitting peak form and Samson was fairly consistent over the last few games. But with a complete lack of firepower in the middle order and in the bowling department, they would've probably missed out on a playoff spot.
#5 Kolkata Knight Riders - currently 7th in IPL 2021
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the first half of the IPL 2021 league stage, KKR were placed 7th before the tournament was called off.
The two-time champions were plagued by a number of concerning issues. Their overseas stars - Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Eoin Morgan and Pat Cummins - all had only one (or maybe two) performance of note. Shubman Gill couldn't buy a run at the top of the order, while his partner Nitish Rana fell off dramatically after a good start. Morgan's captaincy left a lot to be desired as well.
But KKR could've probably turned their fortunes around to a certain extent in the second half of the league stage. Gill, their talisman with the bat was just regaining his lost form. Russell, too, played a couple of tasty innings before the postponement of IPL 2021, while young Shivam Mavi and Prasidh Krishna put in a couple of eye-catching displays.
KKR could have gone on a winning run, but they still might not have been able to make the playoffs due to their horror start.