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All you need to know as the IPL returns

Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni (left) and Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli (right) guided their teams to second and third in the eight-team table before the tournament was postponed
Venue: United Arab Emirates Date: 19 September-15 October
Coverage: Commentary of selected games on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and online-only on the BBC Sport website and app. Daily reports on the Sport website, and live text commentary of the knockout phase.

The postponed Indian Premier League restarts on Sunday, and this is everything you need to know ahead of cricket’s biggest franchise tournament crowning its 14th winner…

What happened to the initial tournament?

The 2021 tournament started in India on 9 April with Royal Challengers Bangalore, led by India captain Virat Kohli, getting the better of reigning champions Mumbai Indians.

It was played against a backdrop of rising cases, and deaths, from Covid-19 in India, but the tournament was unaffected until 3 May when two Kolkata Knight Riders’ players, Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier, tested positive, meaning their match against Royal Challengers Bangalore was postponed.

A day later the tournament was suspended amid rising cases within the tournament, with a Sunrisers Hyderabad player testing positive before their match.

The organisers said it had “unanimously decided” to postpone the season, with 29 group games played.

What is the state of play and how many games are left?

That leaves 31 games left to play – 27 in the group stage, before the three knockout games and final between 10 and 15 October. The tournament has moved from India to United Arab Emirates, where the entire 2020 edition was played.

Matches will be played in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. They will also host the men’s T20 World Cup that follows from 23 October to 14 November so we may see IPL games played on fewer pitches, meaning they get slower, and scores decrease, as the tournament progresses.

When the tournament was halted, 2020 runners-up Delhi Capitals led the eight-team table, with three-time winners Chennai Super King second. RCB, who are yet to win the tournament were third, while five-time winners Mumbai were fourth.

Rajasthan Royals, Punjab Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders are all in contention, but Sunrisers Hyderabad, who are led by England’s 50-over World Cup-winning coach Trevor Bayliss, were bottom with just one win.

A reminder of the knockout format: First meet second in the first qualifier, with the winner automatically reaching the final. Third plays fourth in the second qualifier, with the winner of that game playing the loser of the first for a place in the final.

Teams, and squads, were originally drafted with Indian conditions in mind too, so teams will have to adapt to different conditions.

Indian Premier League table as the tournament resumes on 19 September: Delhi Capitals 12 points, Chennai Super Kings 10, Royal Challengers Bangalore 10, Mumbai Indians 8, Rajasthan Royals 6, Punjab Kings 6, Kolkata Knight Riders 4, Sunrisers Hyderabad 2

What England players are involved?

England multi-format players Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Chris Woakes and Dawid Malan will not return to the tournament after deciding to take a period of rest ahead of the World Cup and Ashes this winter.

All-rounder Ben Stokes, who is taking an “indefinite break” from the game for his mental health, and Jofra Archer, who is recovering from a stress fracture of his right elbow, will also both be absent.

Two multi-format players in Moeen Ali and Sam Curran will take part in the tournament as they look to prove their case for a place in England’s starting XI in the World Cup. They are among 10 who will participate, including white-ball captain Eoin Morgan, who will lead Kolkata Knight Riders.

Two of those, Adil Rashid – who will feature for the first time – and Sussex all-rounder George Garton – have signed as replacements for Australia’s Jhye Richardson at Punjab Kings and Kane Richardson at Royal Challengers Bangalore respectively.

Chennai Super Kings Moeen Ali and Sam Curran
Delhi Capitals Sam Billings and Tom Curran
Kolkata Knight Riders Eoin Morgan
Punjab Kings Chris Jordan and Adil Rashid
Rajasthan Royals Liam Livingstone
Royal Challengers Bangalore George Garton
Sunrisers Hyderabad Jason Roy

What about overseas players?

New Zealand have confirmed their players are free to play in the tournament, so the likes of Trent Boult (Mumbai), Kane Williamson (Sunrisers) and Lockie Ferguson (KKR) will all be playing.

Australia are also happy for their players to feature, so expect to see Steve Smith (Delhi), Glenn Maxwell (RCB) and David Warner (Sunrisers).

Despite that seven Australia players, including Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa, have pulled out of the tournamentexternal-link, along with New Zealand’s Finn Allen.

Kiwi bowler Tim Southee (KKR), and South Africa’s Tabraiz Shamsi (Rajasthan) – the number one-ranked bowler in international Twenty20 cricket – are among the replacements.

Shamsi should be joined by international team-mates Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje (both Delhi), Quinton de Kock (Mumbai) and the most expensive player in IPL history Chris Morris (Rajasthan).

The West Indies Cricket Board also brought forward the Caribbean Premier League so powerful all-rounder Andre Russell (KKR), explosive opener Chris Gayle (Punjab) and Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan (Sunrisers) should all be free to play.

What about the race for the orange and purple caps?

Indian Premier League top run-scorers as the tournament resumes on 19 September: 380 Shikhar Dhawan, 331 KL Rahul, 320 Faf du Plessis, 308 Prtihvi Shaw, 277 Sanju Samson

Each IPL sees the orange cap awarded to the leading run-scorer, and the purple cap to the leading wicket-taker.

India opener Shikhar Dhawan (380) is leading the runs chart, with South Africa’s Faf du Plessis (320) in third breaking up an India-dominated top five.

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Harshal Patel – who has never played for India – is the leading wicket-taker with 17, but there is two overseas players, in the shape of Morris (14 – joint second) and Rashid Khan (10 – fifth), in the top five.

Indian Premier League top wicket-takers as the tournament resumes on 19 September: 17 Harshal Patel, 14 Avesh Khan, 14 Chris Morris, 11 Rahul Chahar and 10 Rashid Khan

How can I follow it on the BBC?

There will be commentaries of selected games available on the BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Check out the BBC Sport Live Guide to keep across which games.

The website will also have a report from every game, and there will be live text commentaries on the knockout games from 10 October.

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