T20 cricket’s biggest annual competition is set to start from March 23 with the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The cash-rich league will see Indian and international cricket’s biggest stars descend on the subcontinent for a month-long festival of high-octane action.
Before the highly anticipated tournament begins, we have compiled a squad of the best-possible XI from the eight participating franchises.
Here, we look at which stars have made the cut.
Shikhar Dhawan – Delhi Capitals
There is immense competition for the openers’ slots but it is Dhawan who makes the cut for his remarkable consistency and longevity. The left-hander has established himself as one of the best openers in limited-overs cricket over the past three years with his India partnership with Rohit Sharma breaking new barriers with every passing series.
Dhawan’s record in the IPL is immense with the opener scoring over 4,000 runs at an average of 33.26 with the help of 32 half-centuries. This year, the batsman will make a return to his hometown franchise Delhi Capitals.
David Warner – Sunrisers Hyderabad
The Australian batsman is the highest overseas run-scorer in IPL history and that sees him beat off competition from West Indies stalwart Chris Gayle.
In 114 IPL matches, Warner has amassed 4,014 runs at an average of just over 40 and a strike-rate of above 142. The left-hander is much loved at Sunrisers Hyderabad, who he led to the 2016 IPL title. The 32-year-old will be desperate to put on a strong show after serving his one-year suspension from international and domestic cricket.
Virat Kohli – Royal Challengers Bangalore
Any IPL XI without Kohli is incomplete with the India skipper arguably the biggest crowd puller in the competition.
While Royal Challengers Bangalore’s wait for a maiden IPL title still continues, Kohli’s contributions over the years for the franchise have been nothing short of staggering. The second highest run-scorer in the history of the competition, the right-hander is nearing 5,000 runs.
Kohli has already registered four tons and 34 half-centuries in his 163 appearances so far in the tournament.
AB de Villiers – Royal Challengers Bangalore
Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore team-mate de Villiers is an automatic pick in the dream XI. The South African ace might have called time on his international career but he remains one of the biggest draws in franchise T20 leagues with his 360 degree stroke-making abilities.
When it comes to overseas batsmen in the IPL, de Villiers is only behind Warner and Gayle with nearly 4,000 runs to his name at an average of over 40. The South African and Kohli will once again be key to Bangalore’s hunt for a maiden IPL title.
MS Dhoni (c and wk) – Chennai Super Kings
Having led Chennai Super Kings to three separate IPL titles, Dhoni is the automatic pick for the skipper and wicketkeeper in the dream XI. The India veteran has been a consistent performer for Chennai over the years with 4, 016 runs to his name at an average of just over 40.
Dhoni looked back at his very best in 2018 edition where he scored 455 runs and he will look to continue in the same fashion in 2019.
Suresh Raina – Chennai Super Kings
Dhoni’s Chennai team-mate Raina makes the cut for his finishing abilities down the order. The left-hander is the all-time leading run-scorer in IPL history with 4,985 runs to his name and has been an excellent servant for Chennai over the years.
Along with his batting abilities, Raina can always chip in with his handy part-time off-spin while he remains a gun fielder in the outfield.
Sunil Narine – Kolkata Knight Riders
For the all-rounder’s slot, it is West Indies’ Narine who beats off competition from his compatriots Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard.
With 112 IPL wickets in 98 matches, Narine is the seventh highest wicket-taker in the competition’s history with an exceptional economy-rate of just 6.54.
Over the past two editions, the mystery spinner has also developed into an excellent pinch-hitter up the order and it is for this reason the Kolkata Knight Riders man makes the cut.
Rashid Khan – Sunrisers Hyderabad
The inclusion of the No1 ranked T20I bowler in the world is no surprise. The Afghanistan leg-spinner has enjoyed a meteoric rise in international cricket and has become a permanent fixture in almost every T20 franchise league in the world.
The 20-year-old’s T20 record is unparalleled, picking up 237 wickets in 155 matches at an economy-rate of only 6.09. The Sunrisers Hyderabad star has also started to evolve into a fine all-rounder with some excellent batting displays for Afghanistan of late.
Amit Mishra – Sunrisers Hyderabad
The veteran leg-spinner might no longer be a part of India’s international set up but he has been one of the most consistent performers in the IPL. The 36-year-old has been the most prolific spinner in IPL history and is second on the list of all-time wicket-takers.
In 136 IPL matches, Mishra has picked up 146 wickets with a strike-rate of less than 20. He is the only man in IPL history to pick up three separate hat-tricks.
Lasith Malinga – Mumbai Indians
The Sri Lanka veteran would be one of the first names in any IPL XI. Malinga is the all-time leading wicket-taker in the competition with 154 dismissals in 110 games at an economy-rate of less than six runs an over.
The Mumbai Indians stalwart did not participate in the 2018 edition with his playing career seemingly on its last legs. However, the veteran has turned it around dramatically over the last year and will now be leading Sri Lanka in the 2019 World Cup.
Expect those toe-crushing yorkers to once again make an appearance.
Jasprit Bumrah – Mumbai Indians
Sharing the new ball duties with Malinga in the dream XI is his Mumbai team-mate Bumrah. It was the IPL through which Bumrah first emerged and the pacer has now established himself as one of the leading bowlers in all three formats of the international game.
There is no other fast-bowler as effective as Bumrah in limited-overs cricket with the India man deservedly ranked No1 in the ODI format. Be it the powerplay or the death overs, Bumrah revels in any situation and he will be key to Mumbai’s hopes of a record fourth title.
The 12th edition of the Indian Premier League will have a few fresh names who will be hoping to set the stage alight. While most of them have already made an impression at the international level, good performances in the IPL can truly raise their stocks at the world stage.
Here we take a look at five players who will be keen to make an impact in India and possibly push their case, in some cases, for a World Cup berth.
Don't know about KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant, but Peter Handscomb and Ashton Turner surely have booked World Cup tickets tonight. #IndvAus— Chetan Narula (@chetannarula) March 10, 2019
The hard-hitting batsman had gained reputation as a bit of a finisher in the Big Bash League. And the Australian all-rounder proved he is more than capable of being a top quality match-winner at the international level in just his second ODI as he cracked a superlative 84 from just 43 balls in Mohali against India, chasing a record 359 to level the five-match series. He hit six sixes during the chase against a full-strength Indian bowling attack.
Turner’s long range and 360-degree strokeplay make him a prized asset for Rajasthan Royals. When he was bought at the IPL auction in December, Turner’s reaction was a straightforward: “I have no idea why they picked me?” Now we know. So does India and the rest of the world.
The left-handed batsman is the next big batting hope of West Indies cricket. The southpaw has Chris Gayle’s raw hitting power to go with a good technique that allows him to play spin and pace with ease.
Hetmyer stole the show with the bat during the Windies’ tour of India, smashing a hundred and a 94 in successive ODIs late last year. His fearless strokeplay and ability to clear any ground make Hetmyer a crucial member of Royal Challengers Bangalore squad, who were otherwise relying on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers to do all the running.
The England all-rounder was the deciding factor in India’s 4-1 Test series defeat in England last year. And more than his bowling, it was his technically sound batting that took India by surprise.
While his left-arm seamers might not be used that often, Curran offers a lot of flexibility with the bat as he can be moved up or down the order by Kings XI Punjab. However, he does go into his shell a bit against quality spin so will have cover that aspect of the game in India.
The burly Windies pacer hurried up a few Indian batsmen during the limited overs encounters late last year. He disturbed the stumps of Shikhar Dhawan with 150kph thunderbolts and rattled the Englishmen with a five-for to blow them away for 113 in the fifth ODI in Gros Islet.
Thomas is arguably the quickest bowler across four overs in world cricket and his extreme pace will be a huge asset for Rajasthan. However, whether his body can hold up for the lengthy tournament needs to be seen as he been playing almost non-stop since late last year.
The South African quick has genuine pace. That is almost the only reason he was snapped up by Kolkata Knight Riders. He was supposed to play for South Africa last year itself but an ankle injury delayed his international bow.
The right-arm quick bowls a mean slower one as well and is rated very highly by Knight Riders coach Jacques Kallis. Kolkata will most likely juggle Nortje and Lockie Ferguson as the one raw pace option in the playing XI.
The 12th edition of the Indian Premier League begins in a little over 10 days. The Pakistan Super League ends in a week. A decent chunk of international players in PSL will be fighting it out in the IPL.
Needless to say, there will be some spillover from the PSL into the IPL. Batsmen and bowlers in reasonably good form in the UAE and Pakistan can be expected to extend that run in India.
So which players are likely to perform well over the next two months? We take a look at five names.
The Australian opener hit a title winning hundred in the final for Chennai Super Kings against Sunrisers Hyderabad last year. The 37-year-old has continued his love affair with Asian conditions by leading the run-scoring chart for Quetta Gladiators in the PSL in the league stage.
What has been impressive about Watson is that he has looked in control in UAE conditions where bowlers were dictating terms. On flatter pitches in India, Watson will look to go one better than last year in the IPL where he amassed 555 runs from 15 matches.
The Nepal leg-spinner started the PSL on a disastrous note, conceding 46 runs in his opening clash. But once he settled down, the Lahore Qalandars leggie showed what he is capable of by picking up 11 wickets in his first six games. What has been even more impressive is his bowling in the powerplay overs, in which his economy rate was less than two an over before the Pakistan leg of PSL began.
Last year, Lamichhane was given game time by the Delhi franchise right at the end of their campaign and he showed that the management had erred by benching him, picking up five wickets in three games. This year, Delhi Capitals – Daredevils earlier – should have him in the playing XI straightaway and let him do his thing.
AB de VILLIERS
The South African star batsman had a decent even if unspectacular PSL where he was even handed the Qalandars captaincy duties once Mohammad Hafeez got injured. The Proteas star pulled out of the final stretch of the PSL due to back issues but should be raring to go for Royal Challengers Bangalore. His partnership with Virat Kohli at RCB has been sensational without delivering the title to the team.
With Kohli certain to sit a few games out as he manages his workload in the lead-up to the World Cup, the form for De Villiers will be even more critical for Bangalore. Plus the tough wickets in UAE would mean ABD will look to make it count in India.
The West Indian all-rounder played a couple of breath-taking lower order cameos for Peshawar Zalmi. At one stage in the PSL, out of 106 balls faced, Pollard had cracked 16 sixes. That’s a telling stat in a tournament dominated by bowlers. Mumbai Indians will be hoping Pollard can be even more explosive in India, where he can clear some short boundaries.
Bowling is not the strong suit of Pollard anymore, but he can still be relied to bowl a few quiet overs once the powerplay overs are done with.
The Englishman has been a revelation in PSL 2019. The Karachi Kings batsman hit three fifties in his first eight games and held Karachi’s innings together following the loss of form of key batsman Babar Azam. Livingstone will be playing for Rajasthan Royals in IPL and he might struggle to even get game time as the franchise have a world-class foreign contingent – Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Steve Smith, Jofra Archer and Ish Sodhi.
But, as and when he does get a chance, and he should as England players are set to return early to prepare for the World Cup, Livingstone should be able to showcase his hitting power.