IPL 2020: KL Rahul leads Khaleej Times Team of the Tournament
There are three players each from Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals
The Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2020 has given a fantastic platform to so many players to showcase their skills and claim and/or reclaim their places in their respective national teams. The tournament has provided an excellent opportunity for us to look at some of the best talents that are available in the shortest format not just for India but for the world.
Here Khaleej Times has picked its Team of the tournament.
There are three players each from Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals, the finalists of the tournament; two each from Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad, the losing playoff sides and one from Kings XI Punjab.
Team of the tournament (in batting order)
KL Rahul (captain, Kings XI Punjab): He batted superbly throughout the tournament at the top of the order. In association with Mayank Agarwal, Rahul managed to pull Punjab out of troubled waters for a major part of the tournament. Rahul's strike rate may have been an issue but the way he played lone ranger won a lot of hearts along with his captaincy. (14 matches, 670 runs, average 55.83, strike rate 129.34, 100s 1).
Shikhar Dhawan (Delhi Capitals): In a side with a lot of youngsters, Dhawan held his own striking two successive hundreds. He may have had a slow start to the tournament, but he picked up expertly towards the end of the tournament. He may not be the most destructive opener, but he still strikes at a good rate for his side. He is the reason, with the bat, why Delhi made it to the final for the first-time ever. (16 matches, runs 603, average 46.38, strike rate 145.65, 100s 2).
Suryakumar Yadav (Mumbai Indians): The most creative Indian batsman in the T20 format currently, Yadav or SKY as he is called, has won a lot of admirers this season. His ability to marry classical shots with the inventive ones makes him the most diverse batsman India currently has for the format. It is a pity that he is not on the flight to Australia but Mumbai Indians owe a lot to him, especially for holding the innings together tremendously. (15 matches, runs 461, average 41.90, strike rate 148.23)
AB de Villiers (Royal Challengers Bangalore, wicketkeeper): Even at this late stage of his career, De Villiers continues to be the most sought after player in his franchise. He batted superbly and destroyed some bowling line-ups at times during the tournament. A lot depended on how ABD finished for RCB this season and that is a tribute to his longevity. His keeping skills is a huge bonus for this line-up. (Matches 15, runs 454, average 45.40, strike rate 158.74)
Hardik Pandya (Mumbai Indians): He is still not fully fit. At least that is what it looks like in the way he did not bowl throughout the league phase of the tournament. He missed a couple of games along the way, but he remained the power that Mumbai needed towards the end of the innings. His strike power really defined Mumbai's effort this season with the bat. If he starts bowling again, Hardik can be the irresistible force that he has always promised to be. (Matches 13, runs 278, average 39.71, strike rate 182.89)
Marcus Stoinis (Delhi Capitals): He was in many ways the game changer for his franchise this year. He has moved around a bit in the IPL, but he seems to have finally found home. He was a destructive force with the bat and at times with the ball proved to be the man to provide breakthroughs. He can do just about anything on the field, hit sixes, take wickets and now can also open. A perfect all-rounder. (Matches 16, runs 352, average 27.07, strike rate 149.15; wickets 12, average 21.66, strike rate 13.83, economy rate 9.39)
Rashid Khan (Sunrisers Hyderabad): The best performer with the ball in his franchise, Rashid Khan wowed a lot of people with his skills. His ability to stay calm, pick wickets and then just celebrate after fooling another batsman was simply the highlight of the season. David Warner's captaincy largely revolved around using Rashid's four overs smartly and for rival batsmen too, the 24 balls from him were meant to be handled carefully. He underlined why he is the best T20 spinner in the world. (Matches 16, wickets 20, best 3/7, average 17.20)
Kagiso Rabada (Delhi Capitals): His pace, accuracy and ability to strike early made him the go to bowler in his side. Skipper Shreyas Iyer had to just throw the ball to him and Rabada obliged. He had a good pace partner in Anrich Nortje which made a lot of difference. But Rabada's pace and skill just made him quite simply the best fast bowler of the tournament. (Matches 16, wickets 29, best 4/24, average 17.79)
Jasprit Bumrah (Mumbai Indians): This guy is quite simply the MVP of Indian cricket. He has the skills which can inspire an entire generation of fast bowlers. He picks wickets, smiles and then walks back to his mark quite earnestly. His skills are slightly varied from that of Rabada, but IPL is an enriched tournament because of the ongoing battle between the two for the numero uno slot in world cricket. The ball to dismiss Dhawan in the playoff was simply the best of the tournament. (Matches 14, wickets 27, best 4/14, average 13.92)
Yuzvendra Chahal (Royal Challengers Bangalore): In a tournament where the leg-spinners stood out for their skill, Chahal once again underlined why he is India's first pick in white ball cricket. He tied up batsmen, bamboozled them and picked wickets at will during the tournament. Captain Virat Kohli just threw the ball to him and the batsmen would just buckle under pressure from his skills. (Matches 15, wickets 21, best 3/18, average 19.28)
T Natarajan (Sunrisers Hyderabad): Quite simply the bowler of the tournament because of his exceptional skills. To bowl the most number of yorkers in the tournament when there are so many exalted pace bowlers around is a testament to his ability. Along with Varun Chakravarthy is the new generation of T20 specific bowlers who are emerging from Tamil Nadu who have exceptional back stories too. A perfect gift for him is a seat on the T20I squad to Australia, a fairytale story. (Matches 16, wickets 16, best 2/24, average 31.50)
Chandresh Narayanan is an Indian cricket author and broadcaster