As the Indian Premier League comes to a close, we look at the standout players from this year’s tournament and give YOU, our readers, the chance to pick the IPL 9 Team of the Tournament.
Twenty-three of the top players this season are vying for eleven slots – from Yusuf Pathan to AB de Villiers, from Amit Mishra to Adam Zampa.
We have created a side consisting of two opening batsmen, two middle-order batters, a further two all-rounders, a wicket-keeper, one spinner and three quicks.
We will select the team from the most votes, but in keeping with IPL rules of playing no more than four oversees players so be sure to remember to keep a balance in your side between foreign and local talent.
Voting closes on May 30th so choose wisely and help us decide who should make the dream team.
Essential to the fortunes of their team, the openers hold a prominent position in the cricketing arena, especially in the T20 format. With the first six Power Play overs, and on occasion the entire course of a match, a hard-hitting and a consistent opening batsman goes a long way in giving his side a considerable edge over the opposition.
There are four shortlisted cricketers in this category, who have managed to conquer the challenges of opening the innings in IPL 2016. With 865 runs in 13 innings, including 4 centuries, the colossal Virat Kohli with his aggressive yet calm intent needs no reason to not be on our list.
Quinton de Kock was the first centurion of this year’s IPL and in the 12 matches played so far, the South African has scored 385 runs with a healthy strike rate of 140. Following him is the lone saviour for Rising Pune Supergiants – the maverick Ajinkya Rahane, who amassed 480 runs in 14 innings. Although a strike rate of 126.64 raises some eyebrows, there is no denying the asset Rahane was for the 7th ranked RPS.
Constantly closing in on the heels of Kohli for the Orange Cup, David Warner, with a strike rate of 152 and 640 runs under his belt has remained a force to reckon with for the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
With over 600 runs and one century to his credit, AB de Villiers has been one of the IPL’s outstanding batsmen this year, also adding five half-centuries for RCB.
Hot on his heels is Aaron Finch. Although the Australian has a markedly lower strike rate – just under 130 – he also has 4 fifties this season.
Yusuf Pathan has over 300 runs, two fifties and a strike rate of 147 at an astonishing average of over 76 this season. And how can one leave out Delhi batsman Karun Nair, who has excelled – scoring over 340 runs, three fifties and a best score of an undefeated 83.
In a Bangalore side packed with big names, Lokesh Rahul‘s is one of the more modest. However, with well over 300 runs at an average of 58 and a healthy strike rate of 146, he has been quietly effective.
India’s wicket-keeper of yore, Dinesh Karthik too makes it to the shortlist thanks to some handy contributions with the bat. The Lions’ middle-order batsman, Karthik can boast of a little under 300 and three fifties this term.
Also, don’t forget Sanju Samson who, with over 270 runs and one fifty, has performed credibly for the Delhi Daredevils.
Shane Watson’s batting average has dipped considerably this season with a high score of only 36, but he has been spectacular with the ball. His 3/24 against RPS remains his best figures in IPL 2016. Replacing his younger brother as one of the most promising all-rounders in India, Krunal Pandya’s talent and hunger for success has impressed this season. With a strike-rate bordering 200 and a best of 86, he has been the finest Indian talent to be unearthed by the Mumbai Indians this time around.
Chris Morris has turned out to be the quintessential all-rounder for Delhi with a handy knack for bowling dot balls and contributing a few lusty blows towards the end of the innings.
With 188 runs and 15 wickets from 12 matches, Andre Russell has quickly emerged as a utility player for the Kolkata franchise. Match-winning performances against Delhi, Bangalore and Punjab have established the power-hitter as not only a formidable batsman but also a wily medium-pacer.
With 16 wickets at an impressive economy of 7.85, Yuzvendra Chahal is the highest wicket-taker this season. The young Indian leggie has been the silver lining in an otherwise timid RCB bowling attack.
Old, as they say, is gold and 13 wickets at economy of a little over seven has vindicated Amit Mishra‘s disgruntled claims that he should have been included in the Indian squad for the World T20. His 4 for 11 against KXIP this season was a treat to watch.
Somewhat of an overnight sensation playing his inaugural IPL season is the Australian leg-spinner Adam Zampa. The 24-year-old has already elicited comparisons with the legendary Shane Warne for his trademark tweak of the ball. Zampa, who bamboozled the Sunrisers with a record haul of 6/19, has taken 12 wickets in 5 matches this season at an incredible economy of 6.76.
When one thinks of fast bowling in this IPL, the Sunrisers Hyderabad spring to mind immediately. Pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar, with 18 wickets at an economy of 7.75, has been particularly eye catching. Partner-in-crime Mustafizur Rahman has been outstanding as well, not only for his 16 wickets this term but also for a mightily impressive economy of 6.71.
Next up are the Mumbai duo. Mitchell McClenaghan has occasionally struggled, but 17 wickets and best figures of 4/21 still rank him as one of the best quicks in this tournament. His teammate Jasprit Bumrah has ticked along more quietly, but 15 wickets at an average of 27.06 are still creditable achievements.
Although not one to collect several wickets at once, Sandeep Sharma has been a rare plus point for the Kings XI Punjab with his 15 wickets at an economy of 7.32.
While I congratulate the four sides that remain in the fight for IPL glory, I can’t help but feel sorry for the Delhi Daredevils.
They are a very good side with the right mix of youth and experience. However, despite a good start to the campaign, they lost their way in the middle and made a lot of changes to their side and strategy. Delhi paid the price for it by failing to make it to the play-offs.
Defending champions Mumbai Indians are the other big team to miss the cut. They had some very good players, but they never looked like serious contenders for a top four finish.
But all that’s behind us now. Of the four teams that remain in the competition, I am amazed at the results of Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad. At the half-way stage. Bangalore had to win six out of seven matches and hardly anyone gave them any chance. But credit goes to Virat Kohli for almost single-handedly taking the team to the play-offs.
If you take Kohli out of the equation, I am sure Bangalore would not have won even half the matches they did. Yes, there have been excellent contributions from leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who is the leading wicket taker this year, and AB de Villiers as well but it is Kohli’s batting that has made all the difference.
Hyderabad too have surprised many with their results but I always liked the look of the team. Their bowling attack has been their strong point and their skipper David Warner has led by example, which is always a good sign for a team.
Looking at the first qualifier between Bangalore and Gujarat Lions, it looks like a contest between two vastly different teams. While Bangalore rely on two or three players, mostly Kohli, Lions are a lot more balanced side. For Gujarat, Aaron Finch, Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja have all been reliable.
Their skipper Suresh Raina has also been among the runs and it gives a lot of balance to the team.
But this IPL, we have seen individual performances have overshadowed team efforts. And because the match is being played at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, Royal Challengers hold the edge according to me.
Playing in Bangalore is a tough task because it is such a high scoring venue. And Royal Challengers have two players who have a distinct advantage at home – Kohli and Chahal. While we all know what sensational form Kohli is, Chahal’s simple yet effective strategy of not trying too many variations and sticking to his strengths has made up for the absence of Samuel Badree.
At the beginning of the IPL, Bangalore’s bowling attack was ridiculed for leaking so many runs on a consistent basis, which undid all the hard work done by the batsmen. But as the tournament has gone ahead, bowlers like Chahal and even seamer Sreenath Aravind have done enough to complement the batsmen, who have only gone from strength to strength.
So considering all things, I back Bangalore to win on Tuesday. However, the good news for Gujarat is that even if they lose, they will get a second shot at qualification for the title clash.
Virat Kohli (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
If you haven’t heard of what he has done this IPL, we suggest it’s time you came out of that rock. The Indian has been in phenomenal form, scoring four centuries, six half centuries and breaking almost every batting record in the nine-year history of the tournament.
Chris Gayle (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Except for that one inning of 73 in the rain-shortened match against Punjab, the West Indian superstar has done precious else. He has made 142 runs in eight matches, with an average of 17.75. He has redeemed himself a bit with his off-spin bowling though.
Mustafizur Rahman (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Let’s just say Mustafizur continues to be a mystery for batsmen. He has taken 16 wickets in 14 matches so far for Hyderabad, but has also been very miserly. His economy rate of 6.71 is the best among any bowler who has bowled more than 20 overs in the tournament.
Ravindra Jadeja (Gujarat Lions)
Not that Jadeja is a premier spinner, but his effectiveness in the T20s is well documented. But the newly-married star has struggled for Gujarat, picking up just six wickets in 13 matches for an average of 36.16 and an economy rate of 8.01.
Most exciting match:
Rising Pune Supergiants v King’s XI Punjab
It really turned out to be the only inconsequential match of the entire tournament, but that did not stop Pune captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni from cementing his position as one of the greatest finishers in the game. With 12 runs needed off the last two balls, Dhoni smashed Axar Patel for two sixes to win the match.
Royal Challengers Bangalore v King’s XI Punjab
Kings XI Punjab were involved once again, but you have to pity any team that is asked to chase a target of 212 runs in 15 overs with the threat of rain looming large. In the end, a sorry Punjab lost by 82 runs through the Duckworth-Lewis method.
Best value buy:
Mitchell McClenaghan (Mumbai Indians)
His team did not make it to the qualifiers, but nobody can blame Mumbai Indians for not making the most on one of their smartest investments. The Kiwi pacer was the third highest wicket-taker in the tournament (17). And what did he cost at the auction? A mere $44,000.
David Miller (Kings XI Punjab)
Hard not to give that dubious honour to the South African, who took $1.87 million from Kings XI Punjab’s kitty. He started off as the captain, but was removed mid-way through the tournament and contributed just 161 runs to his team’s cause in 13 matches with a highest score of 31.
10 weeks & now it's home time. Hasn't been the most successful time but will be back! Learnt a heap load.Thank you India. #JourneyContinues— David Miller (@DavidMillerSA12) May 22, 2016