Jos Buttler smashed a majestic century as Rajasthan Royals compounded Sunrisers Hyderabad's Indian Premier League misery with a dominant 55-run victory.

The Sunrisers, bottom of the standings with six defeats from seven, made the dramatic decision to strip David Warner of their captaincy on Saturday and there was no place in their XI for the deposed Australia opener.

Buttler proceeded to provide the sort of fireworks at the top of the order that are seemingly beyond Warner at present, plundering a maiden T20 ton in style as he smashed 124 from 64 deliveries, with 11 fours and eight sixes, to account for the bulk of an imposing 220-3.

Despite the promise of first-wicket stand of 57 between Manish Pandey (31) and Jonny Bairstow (30), Hyderabad's chase never really threatened and they limped to 165-8 – left-arm seamer Mustafizur Rahman (3-20) the pick of the Rajasthan attack.

Although he had twice come close with knocks of 49 and 41, Buttler entered the match without a half-century to his name in six previous attempts this season.

The England star was not initially at his fluent best, gutsing his way to a 39-ball fifty after surviving an lbw shout from Rashid Khan on seven, the leg-spinner dismissing Buttler's opening partner Yashasvi Jaiswal for 12 in similar fashion.

Supported by skipper Sanju Samson (48) in a 150-run stand for the second wicket, Buttler cut loose. The 15th over, Mohammad Nabi's sole contribution with the ball, disappeared for 21, and by the time Sandeep Sharma (1-50) forced him to drag on, Buttler had already walloped three sixes and a four from the penultimate over.

Pandey and Bairstow made light of Warner's axing, although Mustafizur bowled the former off his pads with a slower ball and the procession that followed Buttler's England colleague perishing at long-on off Rahul Tewatia (1-45) showed Hyderabad's problems are myriad.

New skipper Kane Williamson scored 20 off 21 deliveries and any lingering hope was gone when he became Kartik Tyagi's first IPL wicket.

Kedar Jadhav's run-a-ball 19 was the best any one else could muster and he was bowled to be one of three victims for Chris Morris (3-29).

Patience pays off for Buttler

It seems unusual to flag up how a batsman who flayed the opposition to all parts actually played within himself initially, but Buttler shrewdly recognised his way out of a relative slump. "I think sometimes you have to swallow your ego when you're not in perfect touch," he said when receiving the man-of-the-match award.

"You have to give yourself time and find your way. I tried to stay in and keep the belief that something will click." As the final 25 deliveries Buttler faced disappeared for 74, it was fair to say something exploded.

A new role for Rashid

Khan was into the attack early for Hyderabad, Williamson breaking from Warner's habit of using the spinner in the middle overs. The skipper was partially vindicated by the early wicket and it would have been a very different contest had Buttler not survived.

However, Khan's allocation being used by the 11th over arguably left the Sunrisers exposed to one of the most destructive batsman on the planet and lacking the means to check his charge.

Quinton de Kock guided Mumbai Indians back to winning ways as his dazzling innings helped last season's champions beat Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets.

Rajasthan made 171-4 but were lacking an outstanding contribution with the bat, which is what De Kock gave Mumbai as his unbeaten 70 from 50 balls proved telling, halting a two-game slide.

Chris Morris took two of the three Mumbai wickets to fall, but the Indian Premier League's most expensive player also saw his first delivery swatted for six by De Kock and could not win that contest.

Jasprit Bumrah had earlier played a key role with the ball in restricting the flow of runs late in Rajasthan's innings, and Mumbai reached their target with nine balls to spare, finishing on 172-3.

At Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi, Rajasthan's top four all made useful scores, with Jos Buttler having three fours and three sixes in making 41 from 32 deliveries and fellow opener Yashasvi Jaiswal also clearing the ropes twice in a rapid 32 from 20 balls.

Both fell to Rahul Chahar (2-33), with Sanju Samson top-scoring with 42 from 27 balls before being cleaned up by a Trent Boult yorker. Shivam Dube (35) was caught and bowled by Bumrah, who snagged his reward for a dazzling performance, finishing with 1-15 from four overs.

Mumbai began their reply in solid fashion and De Kock welcomed fellow South African Morris into the attack with a brutal pull over the ropes.

Morris conceded four leg byes from the next delivery too, but from the final ball of the over he coaxed Rohit Sharma to chip to Chetan Sakariya at mid-on for the first breakthrough of the innings, with 49 on the board.

De Kock kept the runs flowing but lost second-wicket partner Suryakumar Yadav for just 16, flicking Morris to Buttler at mid-wicket, and almost departed himself when he was dropped on 58 by Jaiswal off Sakariya. It would have been a stunning catch and Jaiswal, dashing backwards in the field, got hands to the ball but could not cling on.

Krunal Pandya cracked two sixes in making 39 from 26 balls, edging a delivery from Mustafizur Rahman into his stumps to perish before the winning line, but De Kock and Kieron Pollard (16no), who also struck a maximum off Morris, soon made sure.

Bumrah gets it right

Bumrah may not have the wickets to show for it yet this season, but few batsmen will have relished facing his pace and skill. Here he delivered 12 dot balls, conceded just one boundary, and picked up a wicket from his penultimate delivery, which was probably one of the worst balls he bowled. Stifling the Royals batsmen late in the innings proved so valuable in the end.

De Kock makes his mark

With three failures from his first four IPL innings this season, De Kock knew the team were due a score from him, and here it was. After going 2, 40, 2, 3 in Mumbai's previous matches, opener De Kock stepped up and made all the difference in this clash. His six off Morris was a highlight and De Kock twice went over the ropes, also cracking six fours while proving both sturdy and ever-dangerous. Mumbai had won just two of their opening five games, but this third win was a dominant one, largely thanks to their powerful left-hander.

Australia internationals Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa are returning home from the Indian Premier League, while Ravichandran Ashwin has announced he is taking a break from the tournament.

Fast bowler Richardson played once in the 2021 edition, taking 1-29 from three overs in Bangalore's 10-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals on April 22.

Leg-spinner Zampa, however, did not feature for the Royal Challengers, who confirmed the departure of the duo for personal reasons.

"Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson are returning to Australia for personal reasons and will be unavailable for the remainder of #IPL2021. Royal Challengers Bangalore management respects their decision and offers them complete support," a statement on Twitter read.

Andrew Tye had become the first Australian to depart the IPL bubble on Sunday, a decision made by the Rajasthan Royals fast bowler over concerns about flights home amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in India.

The country has been setting global records for daily figures, with over 17million confirmed cases in total during the pandemic.

"I just thought I should try and get on the front foot and get home before I got locked out of the country," Tye told radio station SEN while in Doha awaiting to complete his journey to Australia.

"There's definitely concerns. A lot of guys have been in touch once they've realised I was leaving. Some of the guys are very interested in what route I took home and how I approached it."

A three-day snap lockdown was placed on the Perth and Peel areas of Western Australia last week amid concerns over coronavirus spreading within communities.

Ashwin, meanwhile, is leaving the Delhi Capitals squad to focus on helping his family during the coronavirus crisis.

"I would be taking a break from this year's IPL from tomorrow," he tweeted on Sunday. "My family and extended family are putting up a fight against COVID-19 and I want to support them during these tough times. I expect to return to play if things go in the right direction. Thank you."

Ashwin has taken one wicket and posted an economy rate of 7.73 runs per over in his five outings for the Capitals, who defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday to make it four wins in five outings.

Rajasthan Royals lifted themselves off the foot of the Indian Premier League with a six-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders in a bottom-of-the-table encounter.

Dismantled by Royal Challengers Bangalore in their last game, the Royals got the response they needed on Saturday.

Chris Morris was the star with the ball for Rajasthan, his 4-23 helping limit Kolkata to 133-9 at the Wankhede Stadium, while the South African also ran out Eoin Morgan.

Jos Buttler was struck in the grille early on by Pat Cummins, but the Royals did not allow that incident to shake them, captain Sanju Samson (42 not out) guiding them to an important victory.

Put into bat by Samson, KKR looked set to reach the end of the first powerplay with their full complement of wickets intact, only for Buttler to send Shubman Gill packing with a direct hit.

Gill had been dropped early on by Yashasvi Jaiswal, but the teenager atoned with a fine take to dismiss Sunil Narine.

Morgan was walking back to the sidelines without facing a ball when a mix-up with Rahul Tripathi resulted in a run-out.

Tripathi (36) made amends with a pair of sixes, yet he soon picked out Mustafizur Rahman at deep midwicket, and Morris subsequently took centre stage with four wickets in the space of two overs.

With an achievable target in Rajasthan's sites, Buttler took a nasty blow in the second over, but was passed fit to continue, only to be pinned leg before wicket by Varun Chakravarthy.

An impressive flurry from Jaiswal (22) was cut short in the next over, though Samson and Shivam Dube steadied the ship, picking their moments to punish any slack deliveries.

A googly from Varun did for Dube, with Rahul Tewatia succumbing in the 14th over. 

KKR appeared to have the bit between their teeth when David Miller was given out lbw, but a review proved the ball had pitched outside leg and, after surviving a run-out scare, Samson clipped away the winning run with seven balls to spare.

Morgan gets it wrong

It was a poor performance all-round for Morgan – who had averaged 81 runs across his five previous knocks against the Royals – and his side. Tripathi was their top scorer with the bat, while Cummins (0-36) was particularly expensive with the ball, and Russell was not even called upon. 

"The batting was the let down and we lacked a lot of intent throughout the whole innings," Morgan said. "We were behind the eight ball right from the get-go. Possibly, we were 40 short which is a lot in a T20 game. The bowlers had too much to do. It's a stark contrast to the last game."

More Mumbai misery for KKR

Kolkata had beaten the Royals in six of their last seven IPL encounters before Saturday's meeting, but that streak ended with a whimper.

Indeed, the Wankhede Stadium has been an unhappy hunting ground for KKR, who have now lost each of their last eight IPL games at the ground.

Jofra Archer is closing in on a return to action but will not play at all in the Indian Premier League this year, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced.

The pace bowler underwent surgery on his right hand towards the end of March having suffered damage to a finger while cleaning a fish tank.

Archer had also been bothered by a persistent elbow issue during the tour of India earlier in 2021, forcing him to miss the three-match one-day series against Virat Kohli's side.

The 26-year-old is set to resume full training with English county Sussex with the intention of making a playing comeback within the next two weeks.

"Archer returned to bowling this week with higher intensity, and the ECB and Sussex medical teams will continue to monitor his progress,” a statement from the ECB read.

"Archer will now step up his training regime starting next week and will be in full training with Sussex. It is expected that he will return to cricket in the next fortnight if he can continue to bowl and prepare pain-free.

"The ECB will confirm which matches he is expected to play in due course."

The absence of Archer is a huge blow for Rajasthan Royals, particularly as the IPL franchise have already lost England all-rounder Ben Stokes for the entire tournament due to a broken finger.

Archer claimed 20 wickets at an average of 18.25 in the Twenty20 competition for the Royals last year, posting an impressive economy rate of 6.55 runs per over.

Rajasthan have won just once in their opening four outings in the current campaign as they bid to qualify for the play-offs for the first time since 2018.

Devdutt Padikkal made a magnificent century and Virat Kohli became the first player to reach 6,000 Indian Premier League runs as Royal Challengers Bangalore thrashed Rajasthan Royals by 10 wickets.

RCB made it four wins out of four to go top of the table courtesy of a magnificent run chase from their openers at Wankhede Stadium on Thursday.

The second-bottom Royals posted 177-9 in Mumbai following a poor start to their innings after Kohli put them in, Shivam Dube top-scoring with 46 and Rahul Tewatia making 40.

Mohammed Siraj was the pick of the RCB bowlers with figures of 3-27, while Harshal Patel claimed 3-47.

The imperious Padikkal and Kohli made light work of chasing down their target in only 16.3 overs, dishing out some brutal treatment in a sublime stand.

Padikkal made his highest IPL total with a sensational 101 not out from only 52 balls and Kohli was unbeaten on a classy 72 from 47 deliveries when RCB reached their victory target.

Big-money signing Chris Morris was among the Royals bowlers to suffer, going for 38 from three overs, while Shreyas Gopal (0-35) also struggled and Tewatia's two overs cost 23 runs.

A dominant win for RCB puts them two points clear at the summit in what has been a dream start to the tournament for Kohli's side.


Siraj strikes big early blows

India seamer Siraj struck two huge early blows as the Royals were reduced to 18-3 in the fifth over after being put in by Kohli.

He rattled Jos Buttler's off stump to send the wicketkeeper-batsman on his way for only eight and saw the back of David Miller for a second-ball duck, trapping the South Africa batsman leg before with a yorker.

Washington Sundar removed the dangerous Sanju Samson straight after he had hit him for six, before clean striking and improvisation from Dube and Tewatia - who had two sixes apiece - got Rajasthan up to a more competitive score than they had been in danger of posting.

 

Padikkal and Kohli put on a show

Padikkal was the main aggressor as RCB got the run chase off to a flyer, dominating the strike as Kohli ticked over at the other end.

It took Padikkal just 28 balls to reach his half-century and Bangalore had 107 on the board just 10 overs in.

Kohli clicked through the gears as he reached yet another landmark and Paddikal brought up a maiden IPL century in the 17th over, with victory almost secure. He cleared the rope six times and hit another 11 boundaries, while Kohli struck three sixes and six fours in a batting masterclass from the openers.

Chennai Super Kings made it 12 wins in the past 15 Indian Premier League meetings with Rajasthan Royals as they eased to a 45-run triumph on Monday.

Moeen Ali contributed with both bat and ball as the Super Kings proved far too strong for their opponents at the Wankhede Stadium.

The Royals had prevailed in four of their previous five games at the Mumbai ground - including last time out against Delhi Capitals in a thriller - but fell away badly in reply to Chennai's total of 188-9.

Jos Buttler provided the only innings of note from the top order in the run chase, making 49 from 35 deliveries with five fours and a pair of sixes.

Rajasthan were in contention at 87-2 in their reply, but Buttler's departure - bowled by Ravindra Jadeja - sparked a collapse that saw five wickets fall for eight runs. They finished up on 143-9.

Jadeja finished with 2-28 but fellow spinner Moeen was the pick of the attack, the England all-rounder taking 3-7 from his three overs having earlier made 26 in Chennai's innings.

Faf du Plessis top-scored with 33 as all the top five reached double figures, while the Super Kings demonstrated their strength in depth when Dwayne Bravo made 20 not out from number nine in the order.


Royals run into trouble

Despite a miserable overall record, Rajasthan had won back-to-back matches against Chennai. However, they were unable to equal their longest winning run against them.

Buttler did his best but there was little support from the rest of the top order, the Super Kings' spinners emphatically turning the game in their favour.

All-round balance helps Chennai

Moeen Ali is the only player to reach three figures for runs and also claim a wicket so far in the 2021 IPL season.

His signing by the Super Kings in the auction appears an astute piece of business, particularly as the left-handed batsman has capitalised on his opportunities to bat up the order.

Ben Stokes is set to be sidelined for up to 12 weeks, the ECB has confirmed, with the England all-rounder facing surgery on a broken finger.

Stokes was ruled out of the remainder of the Indian Premier League season after suffering the injury when he ran in from the boundary to claim a low catch and dismiss Punjab Kings batsman Chris Gayle in the Rajasthan Royals' first game of the tournament, which they lost by four runs on Monday.

An ECB statement read: "England all-rounder Ben Stokes will be out for up to 12 weeks after a repeat X-ray and CT scan on Thursday revealed that he has a fracture of his left index finger. 

"Stokes, who is currently in India with Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, will fly home tomorrow [Saturday]. He will have surgery in Leeds on Monday."

That timeline means Stokes will miss England's two-Test series with New Zealand in June as well as Sri Lanka's limited-overs tour of the country.

However, he could play some part in the ODI and T20I series with Pakistan, while he is scheduled to recover in time to face India in a five-match Test series starting August 4.

England get their summer schedule under way against New Zealand at Lord's on June 2.

Rajasthan Royals climbed off the canvas to record their first win over Delhi Capitals since April 2018, Chris Morris the hero as he blasted his side to a three-wicket win in the final over.

The Royals were on the ropes at 42-5 during their reply to the Capitals' total of 147-8, yet David Miller's fighting innings of 62 helped keep them in a see-saw contest in Mumbai.

His departure - caught in the deep trying to hit Avesh Khan (3-32) for a third successive six - left the score at 104-7, yet Morris delivered the knockout blows at the death.

Needing 27 from the final two overs, the all-rounder hammered four sixes – including two off compatriot Kagiso Rabada – to sensationally steer Rajasthan home with two balls to spare.

Delhi had suffered a poor start in their innings earlier in proceedings, a superb opening burst from Jaydev Unadkat, who finished with figures of 3-15, helping the Royals reduce their opponents to 37-4.

However, captain Rishabh Pant led the recovery mission for the Capitals, who were unbeaten in the previous five meetings between the franchises.

Lalit Yadav (20) and Tom Curran (21) made useful contributions down the order, while Chris Woakes finished up on 15 not out before playing a starring role for his team with the ball.

The England pace bowler removed international team-mate Jos Buttler for two early on, but the Royals – without the injured Ben Stokes, who will miss the rest of the campaign due to a broken finger – recovered to end Delhi's three-game winning streak at the Wankhede Stadium.

Morris shows his value

Back for a second spell with Rajasthan, who made him the most expensive buy in IPL auction history earlier this year, Morris demonstrated just why he was in such high demand.

Denied the chance to be the hero in their opening game – Sanju Samson turned down a single from the penultimate delivery against Punjab Kings, then got out when needing six to win – he benefited from some loose bowling from Delhi to cash in during the closing stages this time.

Pant down, then out

Skipper Pant rescued his team with a fluent 51 that included nine fours. However, when seemingly well set, he ran himself out trying to sneak a single, some smart work by bowler Riyan Parag seeing the left-hander dismissed by a distance.

Speaking after the game, the wicketkeeper-batsman admitted his team's score was "15-20 short", runs he could easily have provided had he not taken such an unnecessary risk.

Chris Gayle was among the runs as the Punjab Kings defeated the Rajasthan Royals by four runs in a thriller in Mumbai today.

The Indian Premier League is back on home soil as the 14th season of the Twenty20 tournament begins on Friday.

Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 edition was not only delayed until late in the year but also transported away from India, with the United Arab Emirates hosting proceedings.

There was still one constant, however. Mumbai Indians once again came out on top, making it three titles in four years. The reigning champions will take some stopping again this time around, but their rivals will hope some fresh faces can help a different name secure the trophy.

Ahead of a new campaign, Stats Perform News makes use of Opta data to pick out six intriguing players who will hope to make a difference for their franchises in the coming weeks, as well as capitalise on the opportunity to impress with a Twenty20 World Cup to come in India later in 2021.


Kyle Jamieson (Royal Challengers Bangalore)

Boom or bust? Bangalore paid a premium in a three-way bidding war to get Jamieson, who became the second-most expensive player purchased at this year's auction, eventually going for 15 crores (around $2million).

The Royal Challengers went all in betting on the potential of a player who, while still in the early stages of his international career, has impressed in all formats for New Zealand. He had played just four T20 games for the Black Caps at the time – and has since endured a tough series against Australia on home soil, during which there was just one wicket at an average of 175.

Jamieson has been one of the top performers for his country in Tests, picking up 36 wickets at a staggering average of 13.27 since his debut against India last year. There have been eye-catching performances at domestic level in T20 outings – he claimed figures of 6-7 for Canterbury.

The pressure will be on to live up to the hefty fee in his first taste of the IPL, while it should help his cause that he can contribute with the bat down the order, too.

Dawid Malan (Punjab Kings)

The numbers do not lie – Malan averages 50.15 in T20 action for England, scoring his runs at a strike-rate of 144.31 runs per 100 balls. His performances have him perched at the top of the ICC batsman rankings, comfortably clear of nearest rival Aaron Finch at the summit.

And yet, for all that the left-hander has achieved, there still remains the odd doubter over his fit in England's XI, particularly as he has often built momentum through an innings, rather than putting the pedal to the floor immediately like so many of his international team-mates.

Still, in the recent series against India, Malan was the third-highest scorer with 148 runs. That tally included 68 in the decider when he showed how he is more than capable of going on the attack from the off.

Despite the impressive numbers, Punjab Kings had no competition to secure Malan's services at the auction. He now joins a franchise who has to deal with a logjam when it comes to top-order batsmen, considering the presence of captain KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and Chris Gayle on the roster. 

Moeen Ali (Chennai Super Kings)

The England all-rounder was one of 10 players released by Royal Challengers Bangalore, having featured in only six games in 2020 as the franchise endured yet another disappointing campaign.

However, considering his ball-striking capabilities and capacity to have an impact with the ball, it was hardly surprising to see him find a new home in the auction. Now he is a member of a Chennai Super Kings franchise that has freshened things up after failing to make the play-offs for the first time in their history.

Moeen managed 309 runs and claimed 10 wickets in 2020, posting an economy rate of 7.1 runs per over, but did RCB get the most out of a player whose career IPL strike-rate sits at 158.5 runs per 100 deliveries? The 33-year-old has excelled up the order in the English domestic T20 competition, capitalising on more regular opportunities with two hundreds and 13 half-centuries.

It was perhaps surprising to see him not used in the recent five-match T20 series by England too, considering his off-spin bowling would have added a different dimension to the attack. In T20I games played in India, Moeen has an economy rate of 7.8 runs per over – that is his best in any country where he has played three or more times.

Rahul Tewatia (Rajasthan Royals)

Tewatia had made 20 IPL appearances combined across the previous five seasons before becoming a regular in 2020 with the Royals, who secured the all-rounder via a trade with the Delhi Capitals.

A left-handed batsman who also bowls leg-spin, the 27-year-old had made his debut with the same team back in 2014, then also spent a season with Kings XI Punjab (now rebranded as Punjab Kings) in 2017. However, Tewatia finally fitted in with Rajasthan last year, including claiming 10 wickets in 14 matches while going at a respectable economy rate of 7.08 runs per over.

It was his batting exploits, however, that raised his profile – and one innings in particular against Kings XI. Having laboured to 17 from 23 deliveries in a run chase, he then proceeded to hit six of the next seven he faced over the boundary. The stunning spell of hitting included five maximums in an over off West Indies paceman Sheldon Cottrell, as he helped his team reach a target of 224. 

While picked in India's T20 squad to play against England, Tewatia did not feature in the series. Still, his ball striking – he scored at a strike-rate of 160.3 against pace in the last IPL, with a boundary strike-rate of 19 per cent – could lead to international opportunities in the future.

Shahrukh Khan (Punjab Kings)

To say the IPL auction was a life-changing moment for Shahrukh is an understatement. The 25-year-old batsman eventually went to the big-spending Punjab Kings – who out-bid Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore – for over 50 times his base price, a hefty sum based on his big-hitting potential.

Shahrukh's domestic Twenty20 record is underwhelming, but teams were interested after his exploits for Tamil Nadu in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, including 40 from just 19 balls in a quarter-final against Himachal Pradesh.

Kings head coach Anil Kumble has been suitably impressed by the new signing during practice sessions ahead of this year's competition, even heaping a little extra pressure on the right-hander's shoulders by saying he sees similarities to Kieron Pollard.

If Shahrukh can translate his domestic results to the IPL stage, it will help balance out a batting line-up that lacked depth, even with KL Rahul finishing as the leading run-scorer in 2020.

Abdul Samad (Sunrisers Hyderabad)

At 19, Samad looks a real prospect in white-ball cricket, having become just the fourth cricketer from Jammu and Kashmir to earn an IPL contract when picked up by the Sunrisers in 2020.

A first IPL experience did not have eye-popping numbers in terms of his overall output, finishing with 111 runs in 12 matches. However, a top score of 33 against the Delhi Capitals showcased his talent, including taking 14 runs off three deliveries from South Africa paceman Anrich Nortje.

The right-hander finished up with a strike rate of 170.76 for the season, aided by a boundary strike-rate of 21.5 per cent. 

Hyderabad have tended to front-load their batting line-up, though the absence of all-rounder Mitchell Marsh – the Australian has pulled out of the 2021 season for personal reasons, with opener Jason Roy signed as a replacement – may benefit Samad, if he is given the chance to continue in a middle-order role.

Mumbai Indians are favourites to claim a historic third successive Indian Premier League crown back on home soil.

The Indians retained their title in Dubai last year with a victory over Delhi Capitals, taking their record tally of IPL triumphs to a five.

Rohit Sharma's side will be the team to beat in a competition that will be played in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, having been staged overseas in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore look the most likely sides to prevent Mumbai from becoming the first franchise to win three consecutive IPL titles.

We pick out some of the things to look out for in what promises to be a mouthwatering extravaganza of cricket, which starts on Friday in a country that will stage the T20 World Cup later this year.

 

INDIANS PRIMED FOR THREE IN A ROW

The champions start the defence of their title with a blockbuster showdown against RCB in the first game of the tournament at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.

Mumbai will have to wait for Quinton de Kock's arrival as he is on duty with South Africa, so skipper Rohit will be expected to set the tone at the top of the order.

The India opener is the fourth-highest run-scorer in IPL history with 5,230 at an average of 31.31 and, although the 2020 edition was not one of his best, he struck a rapid 68 in the final. Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav played significant hands with the bat in Mumbai's 2020 success.

Trent Boult was man of the match in that win over Delhi after taking 3-30 and the New Zealand seamer will have a big part to play with the ball along with Jasprit Bumrah.

 

STAND-IN SKIPPER PANT CAN LEAD BY EXAMPLE

Delhi's first IPL final proved to be painful in November, but they will fancy their chances of going one better under the captaincy of Rishabh Pant.

The addition of Steve Smith, who was released by Rajasthan Royals, is a major tonic, while Umesh Yadav and Sam Billings are among their other new recruits.

Kagiso Rabada was the leading wicket-taker in last year's tournament with 30 at 18.26 and Delhi will need him to fire again along with fellow Proteas quick Anrich Nortje.

Ravichandran Ashwin should be on a high from his Test exploits for India against England, while the in-form Pant can thrive as skipper with Shreyas Iyer ruled out due to a shoulder injury.

MORRIS UNDER PRESSURE TO JUSTIFY PRICE TAG

Chris Morris became the most expensive signing in IPL history when he was snapped up by Rajasthan Royals for 16.25crore (around £1.6million).

That staggering fee put the South Africa all-rounder ahead of Yuvraj Singh (16cr) as the biggest ever auction acquisition.

Morris was 20th on the list of the leading wicket-takers last year when featuring for RCB and only batted five times, with a top score of 25 not out.

 

ROY TO REUNITE WITH BAIRSTOW

England batsman Roy went unsold at auction but was drafted in by Sunrisers Hyderabad last week after Mitchell Marsh withdrew for personal reasons.

Sunrisers coach Trevor Bayliss was clearly excited by the prospect of Roy and Jonny Bairstow forming a pairing that has served England so well.

Roy may have to wait for his opportunity or Sunrisers could tinker with the order, as captain David Warner and Bairstow have formed a dangerous opening pairing.

England paceman Jofra Archer will require a fortnight of rehabilitation after undergoing surgery on his right hand.

Archer was ruled out of the recent ODI series defeat to India with an elbow injury and underwent an operation on his hand on Monday, repairing damage done when he was cleaning a fish tank in January.

The quick will miss the start of the Rajasthan Royals' Indian Premier League campaign as he recovers from the procedure.

"England pace bowler Jofra Archer underwent successful surgery to his right hand on Monday. A fragment of glass was removed during the operation to his middle finger on his right hand." an ECB statement said.
 
"He will now commence two weeks of rehabilitation. The consultant will review him before returning to training.

"Further update on his elbow injury will be provided once he has returned to bowling to assess the effectiveness of his recent injection.
 
"Archer suffered a cut to his hand while cleaning at his home in January shortly before flying to India to prepare for the Test series.

"The ECB's medical team managed the injury throughout the tour, and it did not impact on his availability."

The Royals start their IPL campaign against Punjab Kings on Monday April 12.

England paceman Jofra Archer has been ruled out of the ODI series against India due to a worsening elbow injury.

After a 3-1 Test series defeat and a 3-2 setback in their T20I clashes with India, world champions England will look to end their tour on a high in three ODIs to be played in Pune over the next week.

Archer will be flying back home for checks on his injury, however, and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said he must also miss the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

That deals a blow to Rajasthan Royals ahead of the tournament that begins on April 9, with Archer having impressed against India in the T20 games.

The ECB said on Sunday: "Jofra Archer is returning to the UK for further management and investigation of his right elbow injury.

"Archer's elbow issue has deteriorated over the course of the Twenty20 International series and made it increasingly challenging for him to maintain performance levels. He has been deemed unfit for selection for the ODI series that features matches on 23, 26 and 28 March.

"The ECB medical team will assess the player and, together with Jofra, develop a treatment plan and a return-to-play schedule in due course. As a consequence, Jofra will miss the start of this year’s Indian Premier League."

England's ODI squad, aside from the obvious loss of Archer, is comprised of players selected for the T20 series and the reserves for those games.

 

England squad: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Livingstone, Matt Parkinson, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, Mark Wood.

Also travelling with the squad: Jake Ball, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan.

Chris Morris became the most expensive signing in the history of the Indian Premier League as franchises filled out their rosters during Thursday's auction in Chennai. 

Morris was eventually signed by Rajasthan Royals - who he played for in 2015 - following a bidding war that saw four teams battling it out to secure the services of the South African all-rounder. 

His final price finished up at 16.25crore, which equates to around £1.6million, putting him ahead of Yuvraj Singh (16cr) on the list of biggest auction purchases in the global Twenty20 tournament.

"I'm super-stoked, super-humbled to be joining Rajasthan again," Morris said in a video message posted by his new team on Twitter.

"I had an unbelievably good time, and a good season, one of the better times in my cricket career, with Rajasthan in 2015, so I'm unbelievably happy, unbelievably excited.

"We have a very good squad, so joining up with Rajasthan is a very cool experience."

Royal Challengers Bangalore were big spenders in their bid to secure a maiden title this year, getting New Zealand paceman Kyle Jamieson for 14.25cr (£1.5m) having already signed Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell (14cr - £1.4m) for a fraction less than that earlier in proceedings. 

Jhye Richardson also collected a huge deal, snapped up for the same price as compatriot Maxwell by Punjab Kings, who added another Australian paceman to their roster in Riley Meredith, who has yet to play international cricket in any format. 

Having been released by Rajasthan Royals at the start of this year, Steve Smith is now a member of the Delhi Capitals, along with India fast bowler Umesh Yadav and Englishman Sam Billings. 

Moeen Ali saw a considerable rise from his base price, the England all-rounder eventually going for a final sum of £700,000 to Chennai Super Kings. 

While a premium was paid for pace bowling during the auction, the market was a little less frantic for batsmen. 

Dawid Malan – who sits top of the International Cricket Council's batting rankings in the shortest format – will play for Punjab Kings, but English openers Alex Hales and Jason Roy both went unsold. 

Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan is heading back to the Kolkata Knight Riders for 3.2crore (£315,000), while Krishnappa Gowtham went for 9.25crore (£900,000) to the Super Kings, making him the most expensive uncapped India player ever.

As for Mumbai Indians, the main additions by the two-time defending champions came to their bowling attack as they added Adam Milne, Nathan Coulter-Nile and leg-spinner Piyush Chawla. 

The 14th edition of the IPL is scheduled to begin during April and run into May. Last year's delayed tournament was staged in the United Arab Emirates due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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