What an IPL final! Sunrisers Hyderabad were crowned 2016 champions on Sunday and we all woke up on Monday with an IPL-sized hole in our souls. No more Yes Bankers, no more Freecharge Bolt moments, no more fantasy cricket and no more Danny Morrison abbreviating himself hoarse until next year – some serious IPL withdrawal symptoms have begun to set in!
So to make ourselves feel a little better, we have put together our ultimate dream team from this year’s IPL. We have stuck to the four overseas player limit and have included our best wildcard/uncapped pick as well. SRH (3), RCB (3), KKR (2), GL (2) and MI (1) are represented while no RPS, DD or KXIP player makes the cut.
Read on to find out our dream team.
- Virat Kohli (captain/batsman, Royal Challengers Bangalore): If 1981 was Botham’s Ashes, 2016 will be remembered as Kohli’s IPL. 973 runs at an average of 81.08 with 4 hundreds and 7 fifties, the RCB skipper smashed his way into the record books in style. And remember, he scored one of those hundreds in a 15 over game. With 8 stitches in his hand. Surreal. He gets our vote as captain just for that selfless performance.
- David Warner* (overseas, batsman, Sunrisers Hyderabad): One of the most dangerous opening batsmen in the game today, surely Warner was annoyed by the Australian team management’s decision to drop him down the order during the WT20. He did send a message to them with his performance during the IPL – 848 runs at an average of 60.57. If it hadn’t been for Kohli’s unbelievable year, Warner would have claimed the Orange Cap with ease. As captain, Warner looked comfortable leading SRH and it appears his days of punching the opposition off the field are well over.
- A.B. de Villiers* (overseas, batsman, Royal Challengers Bangalore): De Villiers smashed his way to the fastest hundred of the IPL in 43 balls in RCB’s mauling of GL and scored six other fifties in compiling 687 runs over the season. His innings of 79* in Qualifier 1 was pure quality where he dragged RCB from 29/5 and 68/6 to chase down 159 with 10 balls to spare. Add to that his fielding and fitness and you have the complete cricketer.
- Rohit Sharma (batsman, Mumbai Indians): Perhaps a surprise inclusion in the Ultimate XI, but with the top three set in stone, who else could bat at no.4 for this team? Sharma had a consistent, if not spectacular, IPL season but his 489 runs at an average of 44.45 and strike rate of 132.88 put him slightly ahead of the other two contenders for his spot, Gautam Gambhir (501 runs@ av 38.53, SR 121.89) and Ajinkya Rahane (480 runs@av 43.63, SR 126.64).
- Andre Russell* (overseas, all rounder, Kolkata Knightriders): Now things start to get interesting. Why Russell instead of Morris? Both players had 12 games each this IPL. Both got a similar number of runs with the bat (Russell 188, Morris 195) at a similar strike rate (Russell 164.91, Morris 178.89). Russell picked up 15 wickets while Morris picked up 13 at a higher average but lower economy. Maybe it’s slightly unfair on Morris who didn’t get much help from his teammates but Russell’s contributions were in winning causes for his team so he gets our vote. One only had to see how KKR struggled in the Eliminator without him to realise what a massive impact player he is for KKR.
- Yusuf Pathan (all-rounder, Kolkata Knight Riders): Second only to Virat Kohli in the averages table with 72.20, Yusuf made a big statement this IPL. His strike rate in the course of the tournament remained above 140 and taking 24 runs in one Shane Watson over showed us that the batsman who owned the IPL in its infancy remains alive and kicking.
- Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper, Gujarat Lions): Another tough one. Quinton De Kock had a couple of great knocks for DD, KL Rahul averaged 44 with a strike rate of 146 for RCB and Uthappa had more than a decent IPL for KKR with nearly 400 runs. However (a) de Kock is an overseas player and we wanted to save one overseas spot for the bowlers (b) Rahul was not great with the gloves and his drop off Andre Russell remains etched in our memories and (c) Uthappa is definitely better in front of the stumps than behind them. DK is easily the best keeper amongst the contenders and scored 335 runs batting in the middle order for GL at a strike rate of 125. Therefore, with a batting line-up that already boasts incredible strength, we went for a genuine wicket keeper who could steady the ship with the bat, if required.
- Bhuvaneshwar Kumar (bowler, Sunrisers Hyderabad):Bhuvi sort of faded from the limelight after being bowled into the ground on India’s last tour of England but came back with a bang this IPL. Effective both at the start and at the end of the innings, Bhuvi generated pace to add to his swing. It was good to see him keeping his nerve in the last over of the IPL Final and trusting himself to bowl yorkers when he could have easily gone down the route Ben Stokes travelled in the WT20 final. Winner of the Purple Cap, Bhuvaneshwar sent a strong signal to the Indian selectors with his IPL performance.
- Yuzvendra Chahal (uncapped/wilcard, bowler, Royal Challengers Bangalore): We considered including the uncapped Krunal Pandya but his left arm spin lacks imagination and he seems to only have one gear while batting. We felt it was better to go with the specialist RCB leg spinner Chahal who played 13 games and took 21 wickets, only 2 less than the Purple Cap winner who played 4 games more than him. Chahal’s performance is quite spectacular, especially considering RCB’s home ground (the Chinnaswamy stadium) is a batting paradise with tiny boundaries. Defying the odds stacked against him, Chahal earned Kohli’s trust and became his go-to bowler in the course of the IPL. Do not be surprised if he is soon seen in whites for India.
- Dhawal Kulkarni (bowler, Gujarat Lions): With 18 wickets in 14 games, Kulkarni made a big impact for the Gujarat Lions up front. His spell in Qualifier 1 of 4-14 to reduce RCB’s fabulous batting line-up to shambles was one of the greatest ever spells in the playoffs (although it was negated in the end by some brilliant batting by ABdV). Great with the new and competent with the old ball, Kulkarni would open the bowling along with Bhuvi, possibly bowling his four overs on the trot.
- Mustafizur Rahman (overseas*, bowler, Sunrisers Hyderabad): With one overseas spot left, we very seriously considered RPS’s Adam Zampa who took an amazing 12 wickets in just 5 games (including 6-19 against SRH). But we had already picked a leggie in Chahal and can you really leave The Fizz out of any team? It is amazing that in this age of technology and video analysis, batsmen are still struggling to pick him. The Fizz’s 17 wickets at an economy rate of less than 7 convinced us his cutters and quick yorkers were indispensable. Also, the fact that he is a left armer adds to the variety off the dream team attack!
Do you agree? Disagree? Tell us what you think in the comments section and do remember to subscribe to our blog updates!