The Indian Premier League (IPL) is the most prestigious T20 league in the world. The popularity of the league can be gauged from the fact that it more often than not enjoys an exclusive window in the ICC calendar.
The IPL has had representation from all the Test playing nations, and even cricketers from associate teams like Nepal have found favour with the franchises.
Considering that numerous foreign and domestic players have played in the cash-rich league, it is not an easy task to come up with an all-time best IPL XI that would be beyond debate.
Keeping that in mind, here is an IPL playing XI with one representative from each country.
IPL all-time XI with one representative from all countries:
#1 Openers (David Warner, Jos Buttler)
David Warner is likely to walk into any IPL all-time XI considering his record in the league. He is the leading run-scorer in the history of the IPL among foreign players. The explosive Australian left-hander has aggregated 4706 runs at an impressive average of 43.17 and a strike rate of 142.39.
In the process, Warner has struck 4 centuries, while representing the Delhi Capitals (called Delhi Daredevils at the time) and the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH). His biggest claim to fame has been leading SRH to the IPL title in 2016.
Jos Buttler will prove to be an ideal foil for Warner at the top of the order. The Englishman would also be donning the gloves for this all-time XI. Buttler has made a telling impact in the 4 seasons (2016-2019) that he has been a part of the IPL.
In the 45 matches that he has represented the Mumbai Indians (MI) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) in, he has aggregated 1386 runs at an average of 35.53 and a strike rate of 150.81. The England wicket-keeper has been particularly explosive for RR at the top of the order.
Warner and Buttler would from an explosive left-right combination at the top of the order that can take any attack to the cleaners.
Chris Gayle and Jonny Bairstow would be other options for the opening slots ahead of Buttler. However, Gayle would lose out considering we can have only one West Indian in the playing XI. Although Bairstow had an outstanding debut IPL season in 2019 and might have a good understanding with Warner, Buttler would just pip him to the spot due to his consistent performances in the last 4 seasons of the league.
#2 Middle-Order (Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Ross Taylor)
Kohli is the highest run-getter in the history of the IPL with 5412 runs to his credit, at an average of 37.84 and a strike rate of 131.61. His 973 runs including 4 centuries in the 2016 season are unparalleled in the history of the league.
The greatest virtue of the Indian captain is his ability to adjust his game to the demands of the situation, and he is good at both rotating strike or going for the big shots.
De Villiers is arguably the most destructive middle-order batsman in world cricket. His ability to manufacture shots all around the park has earned him the nickname 'Mr. 360'.
The South African has aggregated 4395 runs in the IPL, at an average of 39.95 and a strike rate of 151.23. His great rapport with Kohli while playing for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will also hold the duo in good stead.
Ross Taylor might be a surprising pick but is probably the best possible option at No.5. Although the Kiwi has not been a part of the IPL for the past few seasons, he had dished out some memorable performances, especially for RCB, in the initial few seasons of the league.
Taylor, who is still one of New Zealand's most consistent performers at the international level, would be a perfect fit in the lower middle order considering his proficiency against spin.
#3 All-rounders (Andre Russell, Shakib Al Hasan)
Andre Russell would undoubtedly be an integral part of any IPL playing XI, and has been picked in this XI among a host of West Indian choices. The explosive Jamaican has the highest strike rate of 186.41 in the history of the league. Russell can change the course of the match in a matter of deliveries with his power hitting.
The West Indian can prove to be a match-winner not only with his batting, but also with his bowling considering his ability to generate express pace, and his electric fielding. His swashbuckling batting for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) over the last few seasons is bound to give sleepless nights to any opposition bowler.
Shakib Al Hasan might be out of action currently due to the ban imposed on him, but he is undoubtedly the greatest cricketer produced by Bangladesh. He would prove to be an ideal foil for Russell as the spin-bowling all-rounder.
Although Shakib may not have had great success with the bat in the IPL, he has given a good account of himself with his left-arm spin. While playing for KKR and SRH, the Bangladeshi all-rounder has picked up 59 wickets at an average of 28.00 and an economy rate of 7.46.
#4 Bowlers (Lasith Malinga, Rashid Khan, Sohail Tanvir, Sandeep Lamichhane)
Lasith Malinga is the highest wicket-taker in the history of the IPL with 170 wickets to his name, at an average of just 19.80 and an economy rate of 7.14. Malinga, who has played only for MI, has been their go-to bowler over the years and won them the IPL 2019 title with the dismissal of Shardul Thakur on the last delivery.
Rashid Khan has been a phenomenal performer in the IPL ever since his arrival on the scene for SRH in 2017. In the last 3 seasons of the league, the Afghan leg-spinner has accounted for 55 wickets at an average of 21.69 and a meagre economy rate of 6.55.
The 21-year old has bamboozled the best of batsmen with his very well-concealed combinations of leg-spinners and googlies. Khan is also a handy lower-order batsman who can provide some quick runs if the need arises.
Sohail Tanvir was massive hit in the inaugural season of the IPL in 2008, the only season which had representation from Pakistan players. Playing for RR, the left-arm pacer was the highest wicket-taker that year as he accounted for 22 wickets at an average of just 12.09 and an economy rate of 6.46. His weird action caught batsmen by surprise, and he was one of the chief architects of RR's title triumph in 2008.
Sandeep Lamichhane has been instrumental in putting Nepal cricket on the world map. The wily spinner is the only cricketer from the Himalayan country to display their wares in the IPL.
The mystery spinner has given a decent account of himself in the two seasons he has played for the Delhi Capitals. In the 9 matches he played in the last couple of years, Lamichhane accounted for 13 wickets at an average of 22.46.