Venerable pundit Aakash Chopra has predicted the top-6 Indian run-scorers for the impending IPL 2021. The list includes players from just four franchises - Mumbai Indians, Delhi Capitals, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Punjab Kings - and four of these players are the captains of their sides.
The former India opener chose Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma as one of his top-four picks. Sharma is one of the leading run-scorers in the tournament. Last year, he collected 332 runs at an average of 27.67.
Aakash Chopra feels Rohit Sharma will fare much better this season, given the added responsibility of playing on spin-friendly tracks in Chennai and Delhi early in the season. Chopra remarked that Sharma's recent outings for India, where he has played more responsibly than ever, also bode well for his team.
"If you see Rohit Sharma's average numbers for the last few seasons, he has been consistent for Mumbai but his stats are not stellar or extraordinary. He's a captain of such a good team that he doesn't even need to score that much. However, I feel Rohit will be more important this year because the first few matches are in Chennai and Delhi. In these pitches, Indian batsmen will have a greater role to fulfill. And Rohit has batted with a lot more responsibility in the last 6 months. You know if he stands there for 8-10 overs, he'll take the game away in the end. I am pinning my hopes on Rohit Sharma enjoying a great season this year," said Aakash Chopra.
Aakash Chopra further predicted that India and Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli will be the top-scorer of IPL 2021. The 43-year-old named Kohli's decision to open, a brilliant recent form and his 'hunger' for runs as some factors that could propel him to scoring over 600 runs this season.
"I am predicting that he [Virat Kohli] will wear the Orange Cap this season. He is going to play as an opener and history is witness that all his hundreds have come as an opener. He's bringing a stellar form to the IPL. Last time he just came out of lockdown, didn't get to practice enough so was slow off the blocks. But this time I am not expecting 400-500 but 600-700 runs from him. When it comes to scoring runs, he, like every other great batsman, is selfish for scoring runs. He's hungry for runs and will likely be the top-scorer this season," said Aakash Chopra.
Aakash Chopra picked the new captain of Delhi Capitals, Rishabh Pant next. Chopra called for the southpaw to promote himself to No. 3 in Shreyas Iyer's absence. He feels not only can Pant hit the most sixes but also give Kohli a run for his money for the Orange Cap.
Aakash Chopra said in this regard:
"The last IPL season was very middling for him. He was also assigned a slightly different role of being watchful and that disrupted his chances for India's ODI and T20 teams as well. But eventually, when he started scoring runs, he hasn't looked back since. This six-hitting ability he has, if he gets to bat at No. 3, he will hit the most sixes in the tournament. He has the maturity, the skills and the unparalleled bravado to perform. He will also be a contender for the Orange Cap and might just snatch it from Virat Kohli."
Suryakumar Yadav, KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan also make Aakash Chopra's list
Aakash Chopra added that one of India's most recent debutants, Suryakumar Yadav, is beaming with confidence and will do well in IPL 2021.
"Suryakumar Yadav is phenomenal and is currently unstoppable as well. I believe he will keep playing like this because his confidence after playing for India is 'SKY' high. Nowadays he's also hitting some unorthodox strokes, but he will be fine even without them. He will bat at a good number like the last time. Both he and Ishan Kishan will score a lot of runs but Suryakumar Yadav makes my list," said Aakash Chopra.
Next on Aakash Chopra's list is Punjab Kings skipper KL Rahul. Rahul was the highest run-scorer in IPL 2020 but couldn't get his team over the line. Chopra suggested that Rahul will again have a good season this time but his strike-rate woes might continue.
"At number 5 I have KL Rahul. He always scores good runs and this year will be no different. He will definitely score 500+ runs. We all are a bit greedy and want KL to play a bit quicker but it might be required and it might not be required. He could again be the anchor. He has that ability to hit big shots while being technically correct. I am expecting KL Rahul to have a good season. His strike rate might still be a concern and a talking point but there will be no dearth of runs," said Aakash Chopra.
Shikhar Dhawan is the final addition to Aakash Chopra's prediction for the best-6 Indian batsmen for IPL 2021. Despite his magnificent performance in IPL 2020, Dhawan got the ax from the Indian T20I side after just one poor knock against England.
Get the full list of all IPL Orange Cap holders here.
Aakash Chopra argued that this 'unfair' snub will drive the southpaw to heap runs for Delhi Capitals this season.
"Whether he admits it or not, it would have pinched him that he was excluded from India's T20 side after just 1 T20I. It was a bit unfair on him. Now he will be a man on a mission. He scored runs in the last IPL, then in the ODI series and he will do the same here as well. Shikhar Dhawan is at his best when he's pushed against the wall. He will hit the ground running and score runs consistently," concluded Aakash Chopra.
The IPL 2021 carnival will begin on April 9 with a face-off between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore.