Last evening when I was sipping coffee and browsing through random cricket news, I came across an article talking about Asia Xl and this put my mind into action. Thoughts kept pouring in and I found myself soon writing down the names of those players (around 25 of them) who performed exceptionally well this season, and then shortlisted them on factors I considered important and bingo, that led to my creation of this list. The players who made it big (according to me) are:
1) Chris Gayle a.k.a. Cramps – He is undeniably the most destructive and prolific scorer of this season. Scoring 733 runs at a tormenting average of 49, he definitely deserved the Orange Cap. Gayle shattered several records when he slammed an unbeaten 128 off just 62 balls against the Delhi Daredevils. It was a night to remember as he smacked 13 sixes and 7 fours off the Delhi bowlers. No target seems impossible when he is at the crease. This West Indian is naturally the pick of my team.
2) Virender Sehwag a.k.a. Viru –Every bowler’s nightmare: Sehwag, proved his worth in Twenty20 format as well this year. Viru is known for his no nonsense style of batting. His mantra is simple – come, smack the ball out of the park as much as you can and then leave. Following the same mantra, he scored 5 brisk consecutive fifties giving Delhi the much needed momentum with his magnificent performances. He also put rest to the talks of critics doubting his consistency in this shortest format of the game. He with Gayle unquestionably make the best opening pair for me.
3) Gautam Gambhir a.k.a. Gauti (Captain) –The Delhi batsman has certainly played the most crucial role in KKR’s title win with his captaincy. He was the biggest guiding and motivating force behind KKR’s maiden IPL title win. He not only lead from the front, but also scored tons of runs at the top of the order. He scored a total of 590 runs this season and was the second highest scorer of the tournament behind the unbeatable Chris Gayle. His sound technique and cool temperament on the field made him outshine most of his counterparts, which included names like M S Dhoni and Virender Sehwag.
4) Ajinkya Rahane – This Mumbai lad had a spectacular opening to his dream season, when he smashed 98 at an astonishing strike rate of 149. And the rest as they say, is history. He went on to score 560 runs in just 16 matches and was always in that bracket of the top 5 batsmen. He has also emerged as one of the most valuable players for the Rajasthan Royals. Now I just hope that this young batsman makes his way to the Indian national team soon.
5) Shikhar Dhawan – He was the most successful batsman for the Deccan Chargers this season. But his fantastic display for batting most times went in vain since his team ended up finishing on the losing side, although that did not affect his performance. His morale was always high and he had faith in himself leading him to the top in the list of the best batsmen in the IPL. He has scored 5 half centuries, many of which have gone unnoticed. In many of the matches when his team would fail to deliver, he would step in and put up a lone fight. Indian selectors have got another name to look out for when they pick up team for some of the upcoming tours.
6) Suresh Raina a.k.a. Sanu – CSK is in danger. And then, a not-so-tall player named Raina comes in to bat at no.5 or 6. And all your worries are out of your head and the only thing you can think of is Raina hitting a quick fire 50 and taking the team to an astonishing win. The name Raina itself gives you a glimmer of hope and a feeling that till this guy is on the crease, he can easily pull the team out of any danger. Although, Raina’s performance might not be at par this season, he did enough to earn a berth in the team with his electrifying fielding and occasionally helpful tweaking abilities.
7) AB de Villiers a.k.a AB –This South African has been probably one of the best finishers in the IPL. He has been one of RCB’s biggest asset and has always capitalized on the opportunity of playing an important role when Bangalore’s top order failed to perform and score. Also, on many incidents when he did come out in the death overs, he fired and scored a quick 30 or 40 making the most out of those final overs. His innovative yet attacking style of play, coupled with his wicket-keeping abilities earned him the seventh position in the line up.
8) Parvinder Awana –This Delhi lad has not gone completely unnoticed this season. He was in the news before IPL for his impressive performance in the Deodhar Trophy. In this IPL, he has got 17 scalps in his kitty, but has also given away runs at a whopping economy of 7.89. Now you must be wondering why I included him, when I had spinners like Mishra, Chawla. There is thirst in Awana to perform on an international platform, as he has been devoid of the opportunity so far.
9) L. Balaji – As quoted by Gambhir, he definitely has been the unsung hero of KKR. He was the most effective Indian bowler, and most economical of all. He not only sent 11 batsmen back to pavilion in 8 matches, but also stopped the flow of runs by giving away runs at a miserly rate of 5.3 in T20s, where 7 is considered reasonable enough. Since the day he stepped into international Cricket, he has been one of my favorite bowlers and I am keeping my fingers crossed for his return to team India soon.
10) L Malinga a.k.a. Slinga/M Morkel a.k.a. Haydos –The most difficult is to pick one of these. If Malinga is dangerous, Morkel has been very lethal so far. If Morkel was the possessor of Orange Cap and was the best performer of this season, Malinga has been quite consistent throughout the IPL and has been a boon to Mumbai. If Morkel outnumbers Malinga in the number of wickets (Morkel – 25, Malinga – 23) , Malinga easily beats Morkel in economy rate (Morkel – 7.2, Malinga – 6.3). Both of them being the best bowlers for their respective teams and also the top performers of this season, I wasn’t able to decide on one.
11) Sunil Narine – He was another big factor in KKR’s title win. Sunil Narine’s spin was too good for most of the batsmen who clearly struggled to understand the bowler from the Caribbean. The second-highest wicket taker (24 wickets) was also the second-most economical (5.47) in the tournament. He was Gambhir’s ‘Go To Man’. KKR needs a wicket – Gambhir goes to Narine. KKR needs to low down the run rate – Gambhir goes to Narine. He is unquestionably the best bowler of IPL and as well of my team. He’s undoubtedly the find of IPL 5.
So that’s the team at a glance. Let’s hope IPL-6 has more to offer to the fans of this format of the game.