The Indian Premier League’s season XI, as always, had plenty of contenders. The lineup picked here is a consensus of the The Field’s staff. The rules are the same here, seven Indian players and four overseas.
Two all-rounders make the list along with two spinners. Two pacers get the nod along with the token pick of MS Dhoni as the wicketkeeper. Winning captain Rohit Sharma missed out on a spot at the top of the order because he had a below-par run with the bat. There is no place for the Chahar brothers, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli either.
Shikhar Dhawan going back to the Delhi franchise came as a breath of fresh air for the underachievers of the IPL. With Rishabh Pant and Dhawan, the local flavour was back and so were the runs from the latter’s blade. Dhawan had an excellent time in the middle, scoring 521 runs from 16 games. He deserved to get a hundred at the Eden Gardens. The 33-year-old’s form bodes well for India going into the World Cup. And don’t we know how Dhawan turns it up during ICC tournaments?
Matches: 15, Runs: 521, Highest score: 97*, Average: 34.73, Strike Rate: 135.67, Fifties: 5
Warner’s disgraceful exit from the cricketing scene a year ago following the aftermath of the ball-tampering scandal seems like an eternity ago. The southpaw was in scintillating form from ball one and it was as if he never left.
Warner found a reliable partner in England’s Jonny Bairstow and the duo broke several records along the way. It was a shame that Warner had to leave after playing just a dozen games. The former captain’s performances were pivotal in Sunrisers Hyderabad reaching the semi-finals even though they had an underwhelming tournament. If a player wishes to make a comeback, they ought to have a look at how Warner did it this season; he deservedly walked away with the orange cap.
Matches: 12, Runs: 692, Highest score: 100*, Average score: 69.20, Strike rate: 143.86, Hundreds: 1, Fifties: 8.
It would have been ideal to have Rahul at the top of the order to field a left-right combination at the top. But Rahul has played in the middle-order and hence bats at one-down in our XI. After going through a poor run of form with the Indian side Down Under, he came back with a bang even though his side Kings XI Punjab missed out on a spot in the playoffs.
Rahul finished behind Warner to take the runners-up spot in the run-scoring charts. There were times when the 27-year-old was unplayable. Rahul’s form in the first few games might have just earned him a place in India’s World Cup squad.
Matches: 14, Runs: 593, Highest score: 100*, Average: 53.90, Strike rate: 135.38, Hundreds: 1, Fifties: 6.
After the Delhi Capitals’ campaign, there is a genuine reason to believe that India might have missed a trick in not selecting Pant for the World Cup. The left-hander was at his belligerent best and finished seventh in the run-scoring charts. Whether it was square of the wicket or down the ground, Pant attacked with carefree abandon.
One of the highlights of this IPL was Pant taking on Jasprit Bumrah in Delhi’s tournament opener. India have a serious talent on their hands but his wicketkeeping could use a little bit of fine-tuning.
Matches: 16, Runs: 488, Highest score: 78*, Average: 37.53, Strike rate: 162.66, Fifties: 3
MS Dhoni (captain)
We couldn’t find a place for title-winning skipper Rohit Sharma in the XI but Dhoni still gets in. Having helped his team get into their eight final in 10 editions, he is the skipper as well.
Far removed from having to score quick runs for India, the 38-year-old found his joie de vivre back in the yellow jersey. There was a couple of classic MS Dhoni knocks in the group stages. It was a shame that his tournament had an anti-climatic end, after being run-out controversially.
Fans of his big-hitting weren’t disappointed either as he managed to clear the ropes 23 times.
Matches: 15, Runs: 416, Highest score: 84*, Average: 83.20, Strike rate: 134.62, Fifties: 3
More than matters on the pitch, it was Hardik Pandya’s fortitude that came for a lot of praise. “Whatever happened in his personal life was very disappointing for him,” skipper Rohit Sharma said.
“But they way he came back from all of that, it is very important for a cricketer. There will be a lot of setbacks in your life but how you deal with them and bounce back is what matters.”
Runs, wickets, catches: Pandya was at the epicentre of Mumbai Indians’ title run. Pandya’s turbo-charged power-hitting was a revelation. His version of the ‘helicopter’ shot in particular, was a sight to behold. The younger Pandya also chipped in with important wickets and as always, he was a gun fielder. He received a life in the IPL final after Suresh Raina dropped a sitter, something that he made good use of.
Matches: 16, Runs: 402, Highest score: 91, Average: 44.66, Strike rate: 191.42, Wickets: 14, Economy Rate: 9.17
For all his efforts, it was rather unfortunate that Andre Russell didn’t get to enter the playoffs as his side Kolkata Knight Riders struggled for consistency. Six-hitting received a whole new dimension through the West Indian and some of the best in the business disappeared out of the park.
Russell contributed with the ball to and was his team’s highest wicket-taker as well. Frustrated with KKR regularly failing in the back end of the IPL, Russell minced no words as he lashed out at some of his teammates. Fitness worries continued to nag him.
Matches: 14, Runs: 510, Runs: 80*, Average: 56.66, Strike rate: 204.81, Fifties: 4, Wickets: 11, Economy rate: 9.51.
Had the South African stayed during the length of the tournament, there is little doubt that he would have topped the wicket-taking charts. However, he had to leave for international duties and is fighting to be fit for Proteas’ tournament opener against India on June 5.
He took wickets at regular intervals, be it in the powerplay or at the back end of the innings. The 23-year-old arguably bowled the ball of the tournament as well as Russell was beaten by an inch-perfect yorker during Delhi’s Super Over win over KKR. The pacer can only get better in the years to come and once again showed that he may well take over Dale Steyn’s throne as the world’s premier fast bowler.
Matches: 12, Wickets: 25, Average: 14.72, Economy rate: 7.82
The veteran off-spinner was miserly and was among the wickets too. He set the tone for another dream run for CSK through his heroics in the tournament opener, running through the Royal Challengers Bangalore top-order.
There was no looking back for the 38-year-old, who went from strength-to-strength. It was harsh to leave out Ravichandran Ashwin from the XI and Singh was aided by the spin-friendly tracks at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Matches: 11, Wickets: 16, Economy Rate: 7.09
Deepak Chahar was unfortunate to miss out. Had it not been for Bumrah’s immaculate four overs in the final, the CSK pacer would have sealed the second pacer’s spot. The Mumbai Indians pacer, though, didn’t finish anywhere near the top wicket-takers in the IPL. Batsmen, though, were looking to play out the India pacer.
Burmah’s short ball is a lot more lethal now. Remember how Russell had to take evasive action during a group game? Yet another memorable season for Bumrah.
Matches: 16, Wickets: 19, Average: 21.52, Economy rate: 6.63
Forty years old and with those sprints to the boundary line after picking up a wicket, Tahir continues to live on for another season. The leg-spinner was Dhoni’s trump card and rewarded him with wickets at regular intervals. The South African, like Harbhajan, made the most of the Chennai wickets.
Tahir’s menacing googly earned him bags of wickets and was not afraid to attack the batsmen around the stumps. He walked away with the purple cap. Rashid Khan was good as was Rahul Chahar but Tahir picked up more wickets and had a greater impact on matches
Matches: 17, Wickets: 26, Average: 16.57, Economy: 6.69