Picking An IPL All-Time Best XI
With less than a month to the start of the Indian Premier League, it is the perfect time to reflect on bygone seasons. After looking at ‘one season wonders’, it is only fair to look at the consistent performers who have always dominated in the IPL. The side I have chosen consists of six batsmen, one fast-bowling all-rounder, two seamers and two spinners. I have also met the maximum quota of having four overseas players.
1. David Warner ✈
Australian left-handed opener David Warner is the highest IPL run scorer among overseas players. His run tally of 4,014 runs in 114 matches is the fifth highest overall and he has been especially prolific over the past few seasons. Warner averages over 40, the second highest of all batsmen to have played over 50 matches, and has an exceptionally high strike rate of 142.
The opener has won the orange cap, for the most runs scored in a season, twice – in 2015 and 2017. In the intervening year of Warner’s dominance, Kohli won the orange cap with an incredible 973 runs in the season but Warner was close on his tail with 848. Aside from Kohli, that would have been the highest total ever scored in a season. In addition to this, Warner has 36 IPL fifties, which is the highest out of any batsman. This pays fitting testimony to his consistency.
2. Virat Kohli
India’s international captain Virat Kohli is the second highest run scorer in the competition’s history. He has four hundreds in the competition which is second only to Chris Gayle’s five. 2016 was Kohli’s year when he scored a record-breaking 973 runs. This was 240 more runs than the next highest runs scored in a season.
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In Kohli’s last seven seasons he has only averaged below 40 thrice. With an IPL career strike rate of close to 130 and an average of over 37, Kohli practically selects himself and requires minimal justification.
3. Suresh Raina
The all-time leading run scorer in the IPL. Suresh Raina was a stalwart batsman for the Chennai Super Kings and in the years of their suspension, represented the Gujarat Lions. Although he has never won the orange cap, he has scored above 400 runs in all bar two seasons.
Raina is the only batsman in the competition’s history to have scored over 4,500 career runs and they have come at a devastating strike rate of close to 140. Having one century and 31 fifties, Raina has to be one of the first names on an IPL all-time best XI.
4. Rohit Sharma (C)
Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma is certainly one of the most destructive batsmen in the world at the moment. His two ODI double hundreds show this sufficiently. Indeed, his IPL record is also very impressive. Sharma has scored 4,207 runs at an average of over 32 and at a strike rate of over 130.
While he opens for India on an international level, Sharma tends to bat lower down the order for the Mumbai Indians. I have also made him captain of this side as he has led his side to victory three times. This is the most out of any IPL side.
5. AB de Villiers ✈
The second overseas player I’ve picked is South African AB de Villiers. He has well over three thousand runs at a phenomenal strike rate of close to 150. de Villiers has notched up three hundreds and 22 fifties during his time with the Delhi Daredevils and the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
An average of 38 highlights his impressive consistency over the years. Also an electric fielder, de Villiers never fails to make an impact on the game and is a limited-overs dynamo.
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6. MS Dhoni (WK)
There has arguably been no greater IPL wicketkeeper than Indian legend MS Dhoni. He has led the Chennai Super Kings to back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011 and always led from the front. Either batting in the top order or lower down the line-up, Dhoni has scored over 3,500 runs at an average of close to 38. This is the highest total for a wicketkeeper, except for keeper-opener Robin Uthappa.
Dhoni has hit over 150 sixes and has hit 17 fifties. His runs have come at a fast pace, with a strike rate of over 136. His wealth of experience and phenomenal keeping abilities makes him an essential player.
7. Dwayne Bravo ✈
The “champion” Dwayne Bravo has become a T20 mercenary and is now the leading T20 wicket-taker in the world. Bravo has a stellar record all over the world and it is no different in India. He has taken 122 wickets in 103 innings, which is the fifth highest ever in the tournament.
En route to this, Bravo has won the purple cap twice in 2013 and 2015. In 2013, the West Indian took 32 wickets which is the highest ever in a season. His slower ball and variations are what makes him so lethal a bowler and he is set to do the same for the Chennai Super Kings again this year.
In addition to this, Bravo has 1,262 runs to his name at an average of close to 23 with a strike rate of 126. These figures are certainly impressive for a player who is predominantly a bowler. This makes him an extremely attractive player and his sharp fielding is an added bowler.
8. Bhuvneshwar Kumar
It is hard being a fast bowler in India, but seam bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar certainly thrives in these conditions. Kumar has taken 111 wickets, which is the third highest out of any fast bowler. However, it is his miserly economy rate that turns heads. His IPL career economy is just a tad over seven, which is exceptional in Indian conditions and with the game being ever more batsman-friendly.
Kumar has opened the bowling for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in recent times and has won the purple cap in the past two seasons. He has been the most successful Indian fast bowler in the competition.
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9. Amit Mishra
Leg-spinners are ever more threatening in limited overs cricket and Indian spinner Amit Mishra has helped fuel this rise. Mishra has 134 wickets in the competition, second only to Malinga’s 154. An economy of 7.4 is mightly impressive as well.
Piyush Chawla was a close contender for this spot, but he has to miss out because he is significantly more expensive.
10. Harbhajan Singh
The other frontline spinner I have chosen is Mumbai Indians star Harbhajan Singh. The offie has taken 127 wickets over the years, the third highest on record. His economy is even below seven and he is part of an elite club who have taken a five-for in the IPL.
His experience and unwavering determination has made him a valuable asset to Mumbai and he has helped provide entertainment and action to the tournament. He has also proven himself to be a handy lower-order slogger capable of sending the ball several rows back.
11. Lasith Malinga ✈
Unorthodox Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga is the all-time leading wicket-taker in the IPL. His tally of 154 wickets is twenty more than his closest rival and he has taken them at an economy of below seven. Malinga’s 28 wickets in 2011 earned him the coveted purple cap and it was the only time he won it.
His bowling average of 19.01 is the lowest out of any bowler to have played over 30 matches which pays fitting tribute to his wicket-taking ability and miserly nature. A strike rate of 16.6 shows his devastating power.
1. Warner, 2. Kohli, 3. Raina, 4. Sharma (c), 5. de Villiers, 6. Dhoni, 7. Bravo, 8. Kumar, 9. Mishra, 10. Singh, 11. Malinga
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