CPL 2021: Chris Gayle Returns, Targets TKR’s Crown
By Tanushka Gain
on Thu Aug 26 2021
Chris Gayle will return to Caribbean cricket’s biggest draw of the last decade after being knocked out of the tournament last time. After a weak edition last year, the Caribbean Premier League is all set to regain some of its shine this season. Because the caravan has moved to St. Kitts. Organizers will be confident of reiterating efforts from 2020 to conduct the tournament in a safe environment. After all, CPL 2020 was the first T20 league organized during the Corona era. This time around, the crowd will be back, albeit with a reduced capacity with only 50% of the permissible capacity. As long as they prove that they have been vaccinated.
Ahead of the new season, two franchises have decided to change their names. The relationship of CPL with IPL is getting stronger with every passing year. Because the name of the St. Lucia based franchise was changed to St. Lucia Kings. Which was amalgamated with the owners’ union of Punjab Kings. Barbados Tridents will be called Barbados Royals after the owners of Rajasthan Royals bought a majority stake in the franchise. On the field, spin is set to play an important role in the second half of the tournament. Because all the games are going to be played in one place.
Here’s how the teams are stacked.
Mumbai Indians and Trinbago Knight Riders have largely chosen the same path. Both the teams have won the title in three of the last four editions. No wonder they have a common factor in Kieron Pollard – one of the all-time greats in this format. Pollard has been an inspirational leader for TKR. Who was successful in winning the title last year without losing a single game. In terms of batting, he has been in the best phase of his career. And the team will once again look to him to lead from the front.
Dwayne Bravo has left the franchise in search of a new challenge. And it is the responsibility of the newly recruited and recently retired Isuru Udana to approach the death given a similar profile to Bravo. Yasir Shah may not be in the running for a place in the national team in this format, but he has managed to land a gig in the CPL for the second time in his career. The 35-year-old will be the key to TKR’s fortunes along with Sunil Narine. With batsmen like Colin Munro, Tim Seifert and Lendl Simmons to pace the batting, a fourth title in five editions is definitely on the cards.
Foreign players – Yasir Shah, Colin Munro, Tim Seifert, Isuru Udana, Ali Khan
They would have lost eight out of ten games last time. But St Kitts and Nevis Patriots have emerged as one of the strong contenders for the title this year. Any side that includes Dwayne Bravo and Chris Gayle in their roster gets a huge boost. Gayle will be keen to make an impact after his recent poor performance in international cricket. Where he had scored only one fifty in his last ten innings. Touching 42, Gayle knows he needs runs to build his confidence in the T20 World Cup. And it will be interesting to see if he continues to bat at 3 or returns to the top order to create havoc with Evin Lewis.
Fabian Allen, who has been successful in making his place in the West Indies XI. Will also be an important player for the franchise. But it is Bravo’s presence that will excite the franchise the most considering his prowess with both bat and ball. Pakistan’s Asif Ali and veteran Ravi Bopara will strengthen the middle order and Fawad Ahmed will also play a key role. More importantly, with the entire tournament being held at their home venue, St Kitts will certainly look to envision their chances to cover the distance.
Foreign players – Fawad Ahmed, Ravi Bopara, Asif Ali, Paul van Meeckeren
Will the name change help St Lucia take a step forward after finishing runners-up last season? They would certainly hope so. In terms of personnel, their inspirational captain Darren Sammy will not be there this year. Sammy will still remain part of the coaching staff. Because Faf du Plessis will take over as the new captain. It will be a huge challenge for South Africa, especially after missing The Hundred due to an injury suffered two months ago. The franchise is expected to still be able to make it to his opening bout.
The addition of Tim David and Usman Qadir will give them reason to anticipate the chances of another good outing but the batting lineup is still a bit shaky. Obed McCoy had made impressive performances for West Indies in the home leg against Australia and South Africa a while back. With experienced Wahab Riaz, St Lucia will hope that their bowling attack can overcome any weakness in the batting order.
Foreign Players – Faf du Plessis, Usman Qadir, Tim David, Wahab Riaz, Samit Patel
Like St Lucia, the Jamaica Tallawahs may also have problems with their batting this season. They lost six league games last season and still managed to reach the semi-finals where their batting let them down once again. They are heavily dependent on local players to perform with the bat. And once again Andre Russell will have to shoulder a lot of responsibility. It will be interesting to see if that comes in order. But with Carlos Brathwaite to miss a few games at the start, the Tallawahs are in a really difficult position.
Chris Green and Kais Ahmed are at the top of the spin department. But runs like Chadwick Walton and Rovman Powell are needed to challenge the Tallawahs.
Foreign players – Chris Green, Kais Ahmed, Haider Ali, Miguel Pretorius
Ross Taylor was out of the established Amazon Warriors ahead of the new season. And the franchise only managed to strengthen their lineup with this move as they brought in two of the most experienced campaigners in the format. Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez are expected to lift the unit. And they have Shimron Hetmyer, Brandon King and Nicholas Pooran to bat on. In terms of experience and firepower, they probably boast of the best batting lineup in the tournament.
Bowling may not be his strongest suit. But in Imran Tahir, Amazon Warriors has one of the best in the business. In which there is no sign of slowing down of the leg. Naveen-ul-Haq may not have shown much for Afghanistan, but he will enter these shores on the back of a great T20 Blast campaign in England. If these two get more support than the rest of the pack, the wait for the elusive first title may be over.
Foreign players- Imran Tahir, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Naveen-ul-Haq, Waqar Salamkhil
Mohammad Amir and Thisara Perera have quit international cricket. But both have a lot to offer and Barbados will be banking on them going forward.