Gambhir, Stokes and Raina - IPL 2017 best XI

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Gambhir and Stokes had outstanding seasons [Sportzpics]

With the 2017 Indian Premier League [IPL] ending on Sunday and Mumbai Indians emerging as champions, here, we pick the team of the season.

We have restricted the number of overseas players to four, as is the rule when it comes to the playing XIs in the tournament.

Do you agree with our choices? Let us know by commenting at the bottom of the page or via Twitter and Facebook.

DAVID WARNER

Well, being the Orange Cap holder, Warner obviously makes the team. This was the fourth successive season that the Sunrisers Hyderabad captain scored over 500 runs in an IPL season which shows his remarkable consistency.

This IPL campaign saw Warner scoring 641 runs at an incredible average of 58.27 and a strike-rate of 141.81. The highlight of the season for the Australian opener came against Kolkata Knight Riders when he scored 126 from just 59 deliveries.

David Warner.

David Warner.

HASHIM AMLA

The experienced South African batsman just about gets into the team ahead of Steve Smith, who also had a tremendous season, in one of the overseas spots.

In his second season for Kings XI Punjab, Amla was outstanding as he managed to notch up two centuries.

Although he missed a few matches at the end of the league stage due to international commitments, he scored 420 runs in the season at an average of 60 and a strike-rate of 145.83.

GAUTAM GAMBHIR (C)

Gambhir was the highest Indian run-scorer this season, with 498 runs at an average of 41.50 and a strike-rate of 128.02.

Gambhir not only had a brilliant season with the bat, he was also very impressive with his innovative captaincy. The move to open with Sunil Narine was a brave one that worked very well for a few matches.

Gautam Gambhir.

Gautam Gambhir.

SURESH RAINA

When it comes to the IPL, Raina is almost always among the top run-scorers in any season and it was no different this time around as he scored 442 runs at an average of 40.18 and a strike-rate of 143.97.

Raina was magnificent in the field once again as he took home the Catch of the Tournament award for the one-handed effort against Rising Pune Supergiant.

ROBIN UTHAPPA (WK)

Uthappa’s season ended on a poor note as he managed just four runs in his last four innings, but before that, he was in scintillating form with the bat.

Despite the blip at the end, he was among the top 10 run-scorers of the season, with 388 runs to his name. What was most impressive about Uthappa was the strike-rate (165.10) that he batted at.

Robin Uthappa.

Robin Uthappa.

BEN STOKES

The English all-rounder came into the tournament with a hefty price tag on his shoulders and he went about proving why he was worth all that money in fine fashion.

With the bat, Stokes scored 316 runs in 11 innings which included a match-winning century against Gujarat Lions. Add 12 wickets to that and it is no surprise at all that he was named as the Most Valuable Player in the tournament.

KRUNAL PANDYA

This was a tough choice to make as Axar Patel and Pawan Negi had very good seasons, but Krunal Pandya’s match-winning knocks in Qualifier 1 and the final sees him get this spot.

Krunal’s 47 in the final was so important to Mumbai’s win that he was named as the Man of the Match. In total, he notched up 243 runs with the bat and his bowling yielded 10 wickets while going at just 6.82 runs per over.

RASHID KHAN

This was another hard selection as Imran Tahir also had a sublime season, having taken 18 wickets in 12 matches over the course of the season.

Rashid, despite taking a wicket lesser and playing two more matches compared to Tahir, makes his way into the team because of his superb economy rate of just 6.62.

Rashid Khan.

Rashid Khan.

BHUVNESHWAR KUMAR

For the second straight year, Bhuvneshwar won the Purple Cap for being the leading wicket-taker in an IPL season.

26 wickets from 14 matches at an average of 14.19 and an economy rate of 7.05 are some phenomenal numbers, especially considering that he bowled mostly in the Powerplay and in the death overs.

Indian fans will be hoping that the 26-year-old can take his brilliant form into the ICC Champions Trophy.

JAYDEV UNADKAT

Unadkat was one of the main reasons for Pune’s exceptional form in the second half of the tournament which saw them reach the final.

With 24 wickets in just 12 matches in the season, Unadkat was Pune captain Steve Smith’s premier wicket-taking option with the ball.

The left-arm pacer produced a very good performance in the final as well, picking up two early wickets to put Pune on top, but they would fall short by just one run in the end.

Jaydev Unadkat.

Jaydev Unadkat.

JASPRIT BUMRAH

Bumrah was the best death-overs bowler in IPL 2017 with his yorkers and slower deliveries in the backend of the innings playing a pivotal role in Mumbai winning the IPL.

In the final, Bumrah got the important wicket of MS Dhoni which turned the match on its head as the former Indian captain is known to be one of the greatest finishers of all time.

In total, he took 20 wickets while conceding 7.35 runs per over which is a really good number when you consider how much he bowled in the death overs.

STEVE SMITH (12th MAN)

Smith brought his rich vein of form from international cricket into the IPL as he ended the tournament as the fourth highest run-scorer (second among overseas batsmen).

He scored 472 runs at an average of 39.33, but his strike-rate of 121.96 sees him miss out on making it into the XI. In the final, he almost guided Pune to their first IPL title before holing out to Ambati Rayudu on the off-side boundary in the final over of the game.

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Five things we learned from IPL 2017

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While Mumbai Indians beat Rising Pune Supergiant in the IPL 2017 Final on Sunday, the tournament was yet another successful one.

Here are five things we learned from the 10th Indian Premier League:

BIG BUY STOKES A ‘PERFECT FIT’

Ben Stokes finally repaid the $2.16 million worth of faith Rising Pune Supergiant placed in him. The Englishman was the most expensive foreigner ever signed for the IPL and the best paid player this season. He was key in Pune’s impressive campaign to reach the knockout phase.

After some poor early performances the Stokes’ deal was questioned, but the 25-year-old eventually hit 316 runs in 12 matches, with a high of 103 not out.

He also took 12 wickets to bust the big buy, big waste tag. Pune skipper Steve Smith heaped praise on Stokes, terming him a “perfect fit” for the team.

Ben Stokes.

Ben Stokes.

FOREIGN INTEREST ON THE RISE

Big guns like Chris Gayle and David Warner have always raised the IPL entertainment quotient but the influx of England players this year made it even more cosmopolitan.

IPL teams welcomed them with open arms at the February auctions and the eight-strong English contingent was double the number last season. Stokes, Eoin Morgan (Kings XI Punjab), Chris Woakes (Kolkata Knight Riders) and Jos Buttler (Mumbai Indians) were important performers for their teams.

The season also saw the first Afghan players signed up, with Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi going to Sunrisers Hyderabad. “The participation of players from around the world makes it the biggest draw,” said IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla.

Rashid Khan

Rashid Khan.

IPL PICKS UP THE PACE

Fast bowlers are back. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Sunrisers Hyderabad), Jaydev Unadkat (Rising Pune Supergiant) and Jasprit Bumrah (Mumbai Indians) made up the top three in the IPL bowlers rankings and the impact of seamers was evident this season.

While Kumar took 26 scalps to get the purple cap for highest wicket taker in season 10, Unadkat (24 wickets) was instrumental in Pune’s success. Mumbai also rode on Mitchell McClenaghan’s incisive bowling in the first six overs and fellow pacemen Bumrah and Mitchell Johnson’s ability to choke the opposition in the dying overs.

Mitchell McClenaghan

Mitchell McClenaghan.

MATCH FIXING GHOST RETURNS

Just when the match-fixing spectre seemed to have disappeared from the world’s most lucrative cricket league, a betting ring was busted after a Gujarat Lions-Dehli Daredevils game. Three suspected bookies were arrested at the hotel used by the teams in Kanpur.

While the Indian board boasted of their anti-corruption team working overtime to keep the league clean, the presence of fixers in the hotel raised eyebrows.

A spot-fixing scandal in 2013 led to the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals being suspended in 2015 for two seasons.

Match fixing ghosts returned as bookies were arrested.

Match fixing ghosts returned as bookies were arrested.

IPL RAIN RULES CAUSE A CLOUD

Debate erupted over the IPL’s rain rules after an eliminator between holders Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders ended at 1.27 am. Rain stopped play after the Sunrisers managed a modest 128-7 in 20 overs and Kolkata were then given a revised target of 48 in six overs.

Many believe the current Duckworth-Lewis method should not be used in the 20 over format as it gives an undue advantage to the team batting second — Kolkata won by seven wickets.

But the bone of contention remained the IPL ruling of not having a reserve day for play-offs except the final and thus allowing the match to stretch to get a result. Kolkata paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile said: “You can’t be playing cricket at 2 am”.

Covers being brought on during the Eliminator match between KKR and SRH.

Covers being brought on during the Eliminator match between KKR and SRH.

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Johnson key to Mumbai Indians success, says Sharma

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Winners: Mumbai Indians players celebrate.

Veteran paceman Mitchell Johnson, who took key wickets in Mumbai Indians’ IPL final triumph over Rising Pune Supergiant, has been hailed as an influential force off the field too by captain Rohit Sharma.

The 35-year-old Australian struck two crucial blows in the final over to drive Mumbai to a one run victory in Hyderabad on Sunday.

Pune, who required 11 to win off the 20th over, buckled as Johnson snagged two successive wickets, including a dangerous Steve Smith on 51.

Johnson (3-26), India’s Jasprit Bumrah (2-26) and Sri Lankan veteran Lasith Malinga (0-21) choked Pune of runs in the final three crucial overs, denying them their target.

Johnson, who retired from international cricket in 2015, was not first choice for Mumbai’s playing XI but an injury to Mitchell McClenaghan saw him star in the final two matches.

“We have got some proven match winners in our squad. It comes in healthy when the team requires them the most,” Sharma said.

“Mitchell McClenaghan, who was playing well for us, was injured and unfortunately he couldn’t find a place in the finals, but we always knew we had a great back up in Johnson, who is again a proven customer.

“He has done it for Australia and for Mumbai as well. He has been in this atmosphere as well. I could happily rely on him when I needed (him) the most.”

Johnson, who played a key role in Mumbai’s 2013 IPL (Indian Premier League) triumph, returned for a second stint after being picked in the February auctions.

Johnson only played five games for Mumbai this season, with younger quicks Bumrah (20 wickets) and New Zealand’s McClenaghan (19 wickets) carrying the pace attack.

But despite playing limited games, the Australian also played a role behind the scenes, Sharma said, working closely with bowling coach Shane Bond to sharpen Mumbai’s fast bowlers.

“To have him throughout the season is fantastic. He’s been talking to younger bowlers, sharing his experience, all those things have helped our youngsters,” said Sharma.

“You will hear (Jasprit) Bumrah talk about him in the future and how Johnson was helpful to him.”

MISSING STOKES

Ben Stokes

Missed final: Stokes.

Meanwhile Pune coach Stephen Fleming rued the absence of England’s Ben Stokes, who was key to Supergiant’s surge to the play-offs before being recalled to play for England.

Stokes – whose $2.16 million contract broke the IPL signing record for a foreign player – scored 316 runs in 12 matches, with a highest of 103 not out, and took 12 wickets.

“We would have loved having Ben Stokes the full time but we knew he would not be there. We did not spend too much time lamenting that,” said Fleming, a former New Zealand captain.

“From his point of view, he would have loved this situation. He is a big game player. Playing in the final, whatever competition it is, it is special.”

However he was “proud” of the team for turning around their fortunes after finishing seventh in last year’s tournament.

“We are not a skilled side in the IPL. In this campaign, we have had some players stand up from nowhere. We take real pride in that,” said Fleming.

“We have created an environment where some players excel. Jaydev (Unadkat) has been extraordinary, so has been Rahul Tripathi and (Manoj) Tiwary. Big stars have stepped up at key times. Ben Stokes was fantastic for us.”

Source: AFP

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