In this IPL, most sixes were hit, runs were made, wickets were conceded and competition was most fierce. One interesting fact is – 4 out of the 5 hundreds scored in this IPL were against SRH, who were arguably the best bowling side of the tournament. Only 10 out of the 60 teams who won the toss chose to bat first. Interestingly enough, CSK, the champions had the most money left after the auction was done. They got quality players for less money. This list makes a team of the best performers from this season. I know it has 3 wicket keepers but it was just impossible to exclude them after the wonderful season they just had.
1. Sunil Narine
How do you leave out Sunil Narine from your team, I do not know. I was hoping to include Jos Buttler since he single handedly changed RR’s fortunes. But I needed another bowler so I had to keep Narine in the scheme of things. Although 17 wickets in 16 matches is not too good for a bowler, and an average of 22 is not too good for a batsman, when you combine both, it makes for a star player. Narine is the only player who opens and bowls 4 overs. So I’m sure he will keep winning the most valuable player award each season as he gets most chances to prove himself as a player.
2. KL Rahul
At RCB, KL Rahul was never tested as an opener and was always living under the shadow of Kohli, De Villiers and Gayle. But at his new franchise, KXIP, he was the lead batsman and the whole team depended on him firing. He also modified himself nicely to suit the wicketkeeping role. His batting showed that technique liberates you and allows you to play freely.
3. Kane Williamson
Only two men have scored more runs in one season – Virat Kohli and David Warner, both during 2016. Captain Kane has made the 2018 IPL his own with the excellent stroke play and anchoring ability. He was holding up the SRH batting lineup on his own completely. As his captaincy was a little questionable, that’s not the job he will do in my team.
4. Rishabh Pant
‘Breakthrough Season’. No 2 words describe this IPL better for Rishabh Pant. From the past few years, Pant was looked towards as a reliable youngster who is not very consistent but can perform. Now he will be looked towards as someone who can lead the batting lineup from the front and act as the leading batsman. He has hit the most no. of sixes and the most no. of fours and has the best strike rate for an Indian! He was also the recipient of the Emerging Player Award and the Stylish Player Award. What more do you expect from someone who has played just one game for India and is only playing his third IPL season?
5. Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c&wk)
In a team where I have 3 wicket keepers and 3 captains, I have chosen Dhoni for both the roles is because 1. He won his team the trophy as a captain and 2. His keeping skills are not matched by any and he is also beneficial in checking DRS decisions. This season, we have seen Dhoni 3.0. He has looked as comfortable with batting, running between the wickets and captaincy as he was in 2007 before the IPL.
6. Dinesh Karthik
Now you might be wondering why I needed Karthik when I had Dhoni. I need flexibility in the middle order. Karthik is a designated finisher while Dhoni could go up at 4 or down at 6 as per the game situation. If there is a collapse, Karthik would handle it while Dhoni would look to build the innings.
7. Krishnappa Gowtham
This might be my most questionable decision, but I have been really impressed with Gowtham’s powerplay bowling and batting in the death overs. He is my 6th bowler and will only be required to bowl 1 or 2 overs. He also provides that extra depth and stability to my batting order. We shouldn’t forget the 11 ball 33 he scored against MI which won RR the game.
8. Rashid Khan
He is arguably the most valuable T20 player in the world. And in his own words, ‘the most popular person in Afghanistan after the president’. Rashid actually started his career as a batsman, so he knows how to bat. He can win a match for his team on his own and he showed that in the 2nd Qualifier against KKR. As you might have noticed, this team bats deep
9. Siddharth Kaul
Even though he has conceded quite a bit of runs, his death bowling has been impressive. He had held his nerve under pressure and led a bowling attack comprising of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan and Shakib Al Hasan. He is following under the footsteps of Bumrah and I see a future top class death bowler coming.
10. Andrew Tye
Even though his bowling hasn’t been that impressive, he has taken the most wickets at a good economy of 8. He has been accurate with his variations and executed the slower one and the yorker excellently. He was the leading wicket taker in the Big Bash League and is now the leading wicket taker in the IPL. Surely a threat to watch out for.
11. Umesh Yadav
I would say that he was the best pace bowler and the best Indian bowler amongst all in this IPL. He is being used as an opening bowler and usually completes all his overs within 10 overs. This season felt like he was trying to prove to the Indian team that he deserves to be back in the national team. This season was his best by far and he would hope for many of these to come.