It's that time of the year once again. IPL 2021 kicks off on Friday, 9th April, with a clash between defending champions Mumbai Indians and the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.
The IPL Fantasy league for this season will also make a return, albeit with some exciting new rules. IPL Fantasy players will be able to make transfers after each match this season.
They'll also get to bring in one uncapped player for free before every match. There are three boosters that they can opt to employ at any time of the season.
Setting up the opening team is the hardest part of every IPL Fantasy season. On that note, let's get right into it and take a look at the best Fantasy XI for Match 1 of IPL 2021.
Deadline for Transfers: 7:30 PM IST on Friday, 9th April.
Note: Since this is the first match of the season, the team I suggest in this article might not be the team that I ultimately select. If I make any changes, I'll include them in the piece for Match 2.
Best IPL Fantasy Team for Match 1, MI vs RCB:
Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan (Playing), Krunal Pandya (Playing), AB de Villiers (Playing), Prithvi Shaw, Yuzvendra Chahal (Playing), Jhye Richardson, Suresh Raina, Chris Morris, Marcus Stoinis, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
I've opted to go for a pretty safe team at the start of the season, considering that I can change my entire team's outlook over 3-4 games if I want to. In these uncertain times, going with some nailed-in, regular starters can give me a decent start that I can use to bolster my season.
Captain and Vice-Captain Picks: Krunal Pandya, AB de Villiers, or Ishan Kishan.
I'm likely to go with Krunal Pandya as my captain and AB de Villiers as my vice-captain for this fixture. Krunal is sure to bowl some overs considering that Chennai is a spin-friendly venue. He has also been promoted up the order on such wickets and is a safe all-round option to bank on.
AB de Villiers and Ishan Kishan are both decent vice-captain picks. However, I'm leaning towards De Villiers purely because RCB's spinners are slightly better than MI's, and I also don't want to double up on the same team.
Players who will feature in Match 1
AB de Villiers (WK) (RCB) (11 Credits): I generally don't back Virat Kohli at the start of the campaign and hence have opted to go with the South African. He has an excellent record against the Mumbai Indians and has what it takes to score runs even on a sluggish Chennai wicket.
Ishan Kishan (WK) (MI) (9 Credits): I've opted to go for Ishan Kishan ahead of Suryakumar Yadav primarily due to the balance he brings to the team. I would ideally want to remove De Villiers for another player in the next match, but without having another wicket-keeper, I can't make that move.
He will also be the wicket-keeper for MI until de Kock plays, and that could fetch him some extra IPL Fantasy points.
Yuzvendra Chahal (BOWL) (RCB) (9 Credits): I initially had Washington Sundar in my mind but decided to go with Yuzvendra Chahal. He's likely to pick up 2-3 wickets in this game, and that offsets any benefits that Sundar offers with the bat. He has been a very reliable IPL Fantasy option in the past and should continue to be that this season as well.
Krunal Pandya (ALL) (MI) (8.5 Credits): Krunal Pandya was the first name on my team as soon as I saw the venue. Given MI's sparse list of spinners, Krunal's four overs will be essential for the team. That, added to his batting prowess, makes him a safe and powerful bet for the opener.
Click here to learn more about today IPL match stadium.
Prithvi Shaw (BAT) (DC) (8.5 Credits) | Next Fixture: vs CSK, Match 2: An in-form Prithvi Shaw at the Wankhede Stadium looks like a recipe for success. I'm expecting him to fire on all cylinders in IPL 2021 and make a comeback to the national side.
Chris Morris (ALL) (RR) (9 Credits) | Next Fixture: vs PBKS, Match 4: I've opted to go for Morris ahead of the likes of Stokes. There's still no clarity over where the latter will bat, and Morris' position as RR's pace bowling spearhead makes him a decent IPL Fantasy option.
Jhye Richardson (BOWL) (PBKS) (8.5 Credits) | Next Fixture: vs RR, Match 4: I've elected to go with new signing Jhye Richardson for PBKS' opener. I was really impressed by how he operated in the BBL, and with PBKS playing at the Wankhede, I wouldn't be surprised if he produces similar results.
Suresh Raina (BAT) (CSK) (9.5 Credits) | Next Fixture: vs DC, Match 2: The returning Suresh Raina will be my opening choice from CSK. There has been a lot of confusion over who will make up CSK's top order, and Raina at No.3 seems to be the only constant. Expect him to get a decent score on his return.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (BOWL) (SRH) (9 Credits) | Next Fixture: vs KKR, Match 3: Bhuvneshwar was in brilliant form against England and should carry that forward to the IPL too. He can replicate his success from the 2016 and 2017 seasons and launch his bid for the Purple Cap.
Shubman Gill (BAT) (KKR) (9 Credits) | Next Fixture: vs SRH, Match 3: Similar to Raina, Gill seems to be the only constant in KKR's top order. He'll want to prove himself after a sub-par Test series against England, and the youngster looks set to have another great season.