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.
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