You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

IPL 9 dream team: Captain Warner at the helm

Wisden India logo Wisden India 31-05-2016

And so it has ended, after over seven weeks, spanning 60 matches of high quality T20 action. Virat Kohli couldn’t stop breaking records. Mustafizur Rahman became a cult figure. And numerous others performed logic-defying feats with bat and ball. As always at the culmination of such tournaments, there is the task of picking the best XI. Some hard calls had to be taken and there were heated disagreements, but eventually, Wisden India settled on this: one team to beat them all.

David Warner (capt)

© Wisden

Matches: 17, Runs: 848, Average: 60.57, Strike-rate: 151.42, HS: 93 n.o.

When David Warner was appointed Sunrisers Hyderabad captain in 2015, there were scorns. How could this Australian macho-man with such little captaincy experience in his career take charge of an IPL side? The scorns turned to smiles soon enough. In just his second season, Warner led the side to their maiden title, leading by example. His batting was as you would expect: typically aggressive and dominant. It was most evident in Qualifier 2 against Gujarat Lions, his 58-ball unbeaten 93 guiding them to the final. It was just one of nine half-centuries in a tournament where he aggregated 848 runs in 17 matches, at a strike-rate of 151.42, most of which helped prop up an undercooked middle order. His captaincy was just as impressive. Despite the language barrier, he got the best out of the side, no more evident than with Hyderabad’s bowling attack, which was the best in the league. It ensured he just about shaded Virat Kohli as captain in this line-up.

Virat Kohli

© Wisden

Matches: 16, Runs: 973, Average: 81.08, Strike-rate: 152.03, HS: 113

Sunrisers Hyderabad walked away with the coveted silverware, but IPL 2016 will always be remembered for Virat Kohli’s batting heroics. Batting like a dream as if he can do no wrong, Kohli carried his rich vein of form from the World Twenty20, smashing a staggering 973 runs, including four centuries and seven half-centuries, to set the records tumbling. More importantly, he was pleasing to the eye, without compromising on the aesthetics with too many improvisations – a trait that comes to only a few in the format. Having mastered the art of pacing his innings with zen-like perfection, Kohli proved that even openers can be finishers as he chased down Delhi Daredevils’ modest 138, Kolkata Knight Riders’ 183 and Rising Pune Supergiants’ daunting 191. To add to his exploits with the bat, Kohli led his side admirably, as Bangalore bounced back after losses in five of their first seven games and made it to their third IPL final.

AB de Villiers

© Wisden

Matches: 16, Runs: 687, Average: 52.84, Strike-rate: 168.79, HS: 129 n.o.

“My secret’s very simple – my wife is here to watch.” That was, perhaps, the line of the season, de Villiers showing he could do with words what he usually does with the bat. The eloquence is a bonus. It is his batting that made him one of the first names in this team. A century, six half-centuries and 687 runs in all at a positively heart-attack inducing strike-rate of 168.79. He ensured Royal Challengers Bangalore weren’t entirely dependent on just Kohli. He was there with Kohli to form symphonies – the two scored centuries and added 229 runs for the highest partnership in T20 history against Gujarat Lions. He was there when Kohli fell too, batting with the tail as he did in Qualifier 1 to see Bangalore through to the final. Kohli was so moved at one point, he said he’d “bow down” to de Villiers. He’s a shoo-in into this side, into any side.

Rohit Sharma

© Wisden

Matches: 14, Runs: 489, Average: 44.45, Strike-rate: 138.88, HS: 85 n.o.

Having twice led Mumbai Indians to the title, Rohit Sharma has been one of the most consistent run-getters of the IPL. While Ajinkya Rahane and Gautam Gambhir have scored similar runs this season, Rohit’s ability to score when Mumbai needed it the most earned him a spot in this side. Sharma opened the batting, went to No. 4 as the team struggled to get the right batting combination, and then came back to open the batting. Incidentally, his performance in the first innings wasn’t as effective as in the second – all his five half-centuries came while chasing a target. His best this season came against the Supergiants, when he scored an unbeaten 60-ball 85 to help Mumbai chase down 160 in Pune.

Dinesh Karthik (wk)

© Wisden

Matches: 16, Runs: 335, Average: 25.76, Strike-rate: 125.93, HS: 53

Gujarat Lions were filled with big-hitters in Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith and Aaron Finch, but that made the presence of Dinesh Karthik all the more important. His 335 runs at an average of 25.76 may not be remarkable compared to the figures of some of the stalwarts in this side, but he performed his role quietly and effectively, shoring up the innings when the top faltered, laying the foundation for the big-hitters to later explode. He was loud and handy behind the stumps as well, with 14 dismissals to his name, comprising three stumping. He promises solidity.

Krunal Pandya

© Wisden

Matches: 12, Runs: 237, Average: 39.50 Strike-rate: 191.12, HS: 86, Wickets: 6, Best: 2-15

With his left-arm orthodox spin and aggressive hitting, Krunal Pandya has been one of the finds this season. Mumbai tried Shreyas Gopal, Vinay Kumar and J Suchith in their first two games with little success, but Krunal’s inclusion helped them find the right balance quite early in the tournament. His brute force came to good use as a finisher, but his best performance came against Delhi Daredevils in Visakhapatnam. Promoted to No. 3 to counter the spinners, Krunal showed little mercy on his way to a blistering 37-ball 86. He capped off a superb day with a disciplined spell that returned 2 for 15. One of the few bright spots in Mumbai’s disappointing campaign, Krunal finally emerged from the shadows of his younger sibling, Hardik.

Yusuf Pathan

© Wisden

Matches: 15, Runs: 361, Average: 72.20, Strike-rate: 145.56, HS: 63 n.o., Wickets: 1, Best: 1-6

When it came to pulling off escape acts from the middle order, there was no one better this season than the older Pathan. He averaged a staggering 72.20 in 15 matches, and his 361 runs came a strike-rate of 145. But these mere numbers don’t do justice to his feats for Kolkata Knight Riders. He was the master finisher, unbeaten in seven of his innings, but it was the consistency with which he pulled these off that was eye-catching. His unbeaten 29-ball 60 helped Kolkata pull off a chase of 186 with five balls to spare. Six days later, there was a more assured 41-ball 63 in a partnership with Shakib Al Hasan. He can even roll his arm around if needed. When the going gets tough, there’s nothing more reliable than Yusuf’s muscle.

Andre Russell

© Wisden

Matches: 12, Runs: 188, Average: 26.85, Strike-rate: 164.91, HS: 39 n.o., Wickets: 15, Best: 4-20

Andre Russell’s big-hitting skills were never in doubt, nor was his athleticism on the field, but it was his wicket-taking ability that stood out this season. Arguably Kolkata’s most valuable player, Russell shared the new ball with Morne Morkel and Umesh Yadav, and was economical at the start and effective at the death. In his first match this season, Russell came up with an excellent effort – a spell of 3-0-24-3 – to rout Delhi Daredevils for just 98. However, as the tournament reached its business end, Russell had to miss the last three games because of a leg injury. Had he been completely fit, Kolkata would have fancied their chances of finishing in the top two in the points table.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

© Wisden

Matches: 17, Wickets: 23, Average: 21.30, Best: 4-29

He’s been pushed to the fringes of the national team for a while now, but Bhuvneshwar’s performance in the IPL this season may well further his cause again. With 23 wickets in 17, he ended with the Purple Cap, or to use more traditional terms, the highest wicket-taker. He was always a wily proponent of swing and seam, and while he used that to devastating effect with the new ball, he was equally unplayable at the death, with yorkers that nearly took the batsmen’s legs out. His average of 21.30 was among the best this season, and it came at a fine economy of 7.42. His partnership with Mustafizur Rahman and Ashish Nehra, when he played, formed the best attack of the tournament, and he ensured he was the first name in this side.

Yuzvendra Chahal

© Wisden

Matches: 13, Wickets: 21, Average: 19.09, Best: 4-25

Yuzvendra Chahal emerged as the silver lining in Bangalore’s frail bowling attack. A thinking legspinner, Chahal was often Kohli’s go-to man even at a batting paradise like the M Chinnaswamy stadium. Despite a slow start, Chahal ended the tournament as the second-highest wicket-taker, and played a huge role in Bangalore’s resurgence. One of Bangalore’s consistent performers since 2014, he was recently rewarded with a place in the limited-overs squad to tour Zimbabwe.

Mustafizur Rahman

© Wisden

Matches: 16, Wickets: 17, Average: 24.76, Best: 3-16

“No English. No batting.” Mustafizur has a massive fear of doing either of those things. He doesn’t speak any language apart from Bengali, and it meant Warner, the Hyderabad captain, found himself in a bizarre situation where he could communicate with his star bowler only through hand gestures. Remarkably, that was enough. Mustafizur is an intelligent pacemen, bowling at pace variations as hard to read as Sachin Tendulkar’s autobiography. He claimed 17 wickets in 16 matches, at an economy rate of 6.90, which was the best among players who had played as many matches. His bowling at the death was nightmarish for batsmen. Bhuvneshwar, his partner, was at pains to stress how impressed he was with him. The Fizz, as he is popularly known, has quite simply been one of the stories of the season.

12th man: Chris Morris (Matches: 12, Runs: 195, Average: 65.00, Strike-rate: 178.89, HS: 82 n.o., Wickets: 13, Best: 2-30).

The ones who almost made it: Shane Watson, Ben Cutting, Adam Zampa, Gautam Gambhir, Mitchell McClenaghan, Ajinkya Rahane and KL Rahul.

Slideshow: Meet the captains of IPL 2016

IPL 2016: MS Dhoni to Virat Kohli, a brief look at the captains: MS Dhoni had led Chennai Super Kings for eight years before being forced to move due to CSK's suspension. He called this move difficult. "If all of a sudden if you want me to say that I am very excited to play for a new team, it will be wrong," said Dhoni who had won the title twice and finished runner-up four times. This time, though, in new colours of Pune Super Giants and a new look team, things would be very different for India's limited overs captain. Will Dhoni's inspirational touch carry on, it remains to be seen. IPL 2016: MS Dhoni to Virat Kohli, a brief look at the captains

More from Wisden India

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon