LONDON: At the end of the most competitive Indian Premier League (IPL) season since the competition began in 2008, picking an XI from the eight franchises is harder than ever. We will play by the rules though. In the IPL, no team can field more than four foreign players — our XI has the same composition.
KL Rahul: Had his teammates not underperformed so badly, Rahul’s batting would have taken Kings XI Punjab into the playoffs. He scored six half-centuries for a team in which only one other batsman crossed 350 runs for the season.
Jos Buttler: A man transformed after being asked to open, Buttler’s innovative and powerful strokeplay were instrumental in Rajasthan Royals sneaking into the playoffs. With Ben Stokes having a poor season, it was all the more important that he stepped up.
Kane Williamson: Did not have the impact he would have liked in the playoffs, but with eight half-centuries in the league phase, he was a byword for consistency. Shouldered the burden of captaincy and a weak batting side.
Rishabh Pant: He destroyed Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the league’s best bowler in previous seasons, while making a 63-ball 128 against table-topping Hyderabad. Despite Delhi’s season never taking off, Pant was relentless, pounding out the runs at a heady rate.
MS Dhoni: Smashed 30 sixes as he rediscovered his batting mojo. His three half-centuries were as many as he had made in three previous seasons, and his leadership was marked by the usual glacial calm. Got an aging side past the finish line.
Dinesh Karthik: Some would say he overachieved by taking a new-look Kolkata side into the playoffs. But for a heroic display from Rashid Khan, they could even have made the final. Rotated his bowlers cleverly and was exceptional at closing out tight games with the bat.
Krunal Pandya: Hardik Pandya may have the India cap and the rockstar image, but it was his older brother who was more consistent for Mumbai Indians. Krunal was his tidy self with the ball, and he offered a big-hitting option down the order, scoring faster than his sibling.
Rashid Khan: Probably the best T20 bowler in the world. He has been around a couple of seasons now, but so few batsmen continue to pick him from the hand. He is usually too quick to play off the pitch. The list of batsmen he flummoxed — Kohli, de Villiers and Dhoni included — reads like a who’s who of the game.
Deepak Chahar: He was the perfect sidekick for Lungi Ngidi, swinging the new ball accurately and giving little away. After a few seasons of struggle in domestic cricket, he is back in the limelight.
Umesh Yadav: A regular wicket-taker for a Bangalore side that had few others. Whether he pitched full or short, Yadav’s pace made him a potent threat. He and Yuzvendra Chahal seemed to be the only bowlers Kohli trusted.
Andrew Tye: Another whose stellar displays could not cover up the inadequacies of his Punjab teammates. The Tye knuckle-ball confounded most and played a massive part in the team starting the season 5-2.