The Indian Premier League (IPL) witnessed some exhilarating action throughout the course of the last two months. Various cricketers raised the bar with their phenomenal performances. The tournament saw some brilliant sessions of batting prowess, fantastic spells of bowling and some electrifying athleticism in the field. With a restriction of four overseas players, here we present to you our IPL XI of the season:-
1. David Warner
The explosive opener laid the foundation for Sunrisers Hyderabad at numerous occasions this season. Ending the tournament as the Orange Cap, David Warner scored a spectacular 692 runs this season with a fantastic eight fifties in 12 games. He also went on to score a century from just 55 balls against Royal Challengers Bangalore. This was the fifth consecutive time in the Indian Premier League that Warner ended up with an aggregate of more than 500 runs in a single season.
2. KL Rahul
The 27 year old might have started the tournament slow but soon turned out to be a force to reckon with at the top order. Not many cricketers manage to overshadow someone like Chris Gayle. However, KL Rahul with his consistent batting performances provided a solid start to Kings XI Punjab on several occasions. Rahul went on to register six half centuries and a century too. His tally of 593 runs this season came at an splendid average of 53.91.
3. Virat Kohli
This may have not been Virat Kohli’s best year with the bat. While he mostly donned the opening role this season, there isn’t any other batsman who can don the No.3 role with as much credibility as him. While he had a tough year as a captain where his team finished at the bottom of the points table, Kohli amassed 464 runs which also included a century against Kolkata Knight Riders.
4. Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant often got accused for failing to finish games on a regular basis. However, that doesn’t take away anything from the pinch hitting skills he displayed throughout the tournament. The 21 year old scored 488 runs in the 16 games he played and also hit 27 sixes. His work behind the stumps was also fantastic though Pant makes it to the XI purely on his batting skills.
5. MS Dhoni
Years keep passing by and MS Dhoni continues to reveal a better version of himself. Whether it was batting his team out of trouble, interesting tactics to topple the opposition or his lightning speed stumpings, Dhoni mastered it all. While he couldn’t get his team all the way to defend the title, CSK will remember this season for how MS Dhoni was the lone man standing out in their batting order. With 416 runs at an unbelievable average of 83.20, the No.5 spot was not a difficult one to chose.
6. Andre Russell
No one will forget the exploits of Andre Russell in the twelfth year of the Indian Premier League. Hitting a record 52 sixes throughout the course of the tournament, Russell ignited fire everytime he occupied the crease and stood across those 22 yards. He singlehandedly lifted Kolkata’s batting order in what was otherwise a disastrous campaign. Inspite of batting at the lower order, Russell put up 510 runs at a mind blowing strike rate of 204.82.
7. Hardik Pandya
The way Hardik transformed himself in this year’s Indian Premier League was absolutely amazing. Not only did he step up with the finishing role for Mumbai Indians, Pandya went on to demolish bowling attacks. The fact that he struck at a rate of 191.43 scoring 402 runs defines his valuability at the lower order. The 25 year old also picked up 14 wickets with the ball as his all-round performances impressed everyone.
8. Kagiso Rabada
Leading the Purple Cap race for the majority of this year’s IPL, Kagiso Rabada lit up the tournament picking up 25 wickets. He did so at an average of just 14.72 which was the best by anyone this season. The 23 year old unfortunately got injured during the end stages of the league though he remained at the Top 2 in the list of highest wicket takers. Rabada picked a four wicket haul twice with Delhi Capitals recording a win on both occasions.
9. Khaleel Ahmed
The left arm pacer can be termed as unlucky to have missed out on a spot in the World Cup squad. Khaleel Ahmed who was left out of the playing XI at the start of the tournament went on to make a huge impact for SunRisers Hyderabad. Not only did he take wickets in the powerplay overs but also during the death overs. With Bhuvneshwar out of form, SRH often relied upon him to take a chunk of wickets. His strike rate of 11 was the best amongst anyone who took more than 10 wickets this season.
10. Imran Tahir
The South African leg spinner created a havoc this season. Imran Tahir went on to pick 26 wickets in 16 games and crossed more miles celebrating a wicket than Kohli did running between the wickets this season. While he did end up winning the Purple Cap, his team could not retain the IPL title inspite of reaching the finals. His tally of 26 wickets is the most by any spinner ever in an IPL season.
11. Shreyas Gopal
The only uncapped addition to our playing XI. Shreyas Gopal made life difficult for batsmen in the middle overs. A hattrick consisting the wickets of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Marcus Stoinis. The list surely couldn’t have been better for the 25 year old in gaining confidence. The leg spinner delivered with the ball every time he was put against a challenge. No wonder he ended up at the fourth position on the points table.
With a left hand – right hand opening combination of David Warner and KL Rahul followed by a middle order, inclusive of some of the best in business, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant and MS Dhoni, this batting order is capable of giving any opposition a nightmare. With the pinch hitting duo of Russell and Pandya comprising the lower order, bowlers will be wary of the threat they pose. Two best pacers of the tournament, Kagiso Rabada leading the attack while Khaleel at his prime from the other end. Imran Tahir picking a cluster of wickets inspite of being 40 and a young Shreyas Gopal to trouble the batsmen. That’s our IPL XI of this season.