DHONI OUT, KL RAHUL IN AND MORE: THE MTAG WRITERS PICK THEIR IPL 13 COMBINED XI
KUSHAGR DIXIT, ATUL KUMAR MAURYA AND MANISH SHARMA |19th September 2020
Amongst the array of conversations about logistics around how to get the IPL up and running, we’re here. Everyone’s favourite T20 tournament is back and all we want to see is Dre Russ and Hardik Pandya do what they do best and that too in UAE. We’re just being honest.
Here’s an alternate preview from the More Than A Game writers where we put forth our combined XI’s before the tournament from all the teams to create teams that are superhuman for all practical purposes.
Rohit Sharma (c)
In the last 2 years, Rohit Sharma has been the best white ball batsman in the world and has also led his team to 4 IPL triumphs (the most by any captain). His place at the top would give any team the best possible chance to set imposing targets and chase tricky totals. Alongside his batting, his brilliant leadership skills would be of huge importance to the squad.
KL Rahul (wk)
The Kings XI Punjab skipper had a fantastic 2019 which started with his performances in last year’s IPL wherein he scored 593 runs. He was also India’s best performer in the white ball format with dominant performances at the top of the order. Rahul has also taken over as the keeper in T20Is which speaks volumes about his abilities behind the stumps. Overall, a perfect T20 player
One cannot really make a fantasy team in any format of the game and not have Virat Kohli in it. By far the most complete batsman in world cricket, the RCB captain also holds the records for most runs and centuries in a season. His presence on the field coupled with his unbelievable knack of chasing down any and every score makes him an inevitable selection.
With IPL being staged in the UAE, Williamson’s ability to pace the innings and his prowess against top class spin bowling will bring in much needed stability to any batting lineup. He has shown himself to be a fantastic T20 batsman and in challenging conditions someone with his technique and temperament will be a vital player.
When the IPL was last played in the UAE, the Aussie scored the most runs and half centuries there. His exploits with Australia in the region too have been impressive and he comes into the tournament on the back of a stupendous knock against England. His all-round ability and electric fielding would be a massive advantage in the side.
‘Dre Russ’ as he is affectionately known is one of the biggest gamechangers in the IPL. The way he blasts bowling attacks into oblivion is something the KKR faithful would vouch for. He has shown his prowess in almost all kinds of situations and remains a very good bowling option for the side, thus providing it great balance.
One man who would be relishing the chance of playing on slower tracks is Ravindra Jadeja. The way he is able to dry up runs in such conditions and outfox batsmen at the same time makes him one of the best spinning options around. Add to that, his ability to tonk the ball at the death and the fact that he is by far the best fielder on show at the tournament makes him indispensable.
Rashid Khan is another really well-rounded cricketer who is probably the best spinner in the world in T20 cricket. His guile, pace and trickery will create a havoc among batting line-ups and could lead to many collapses. He is also a very handy lower order batsman who can score some quick runs at the end of an innings.
The speedster from Meerut will have a point to prove to the Indian selectors as himself with regards to his fitness as he has been plagued with recurring injuries in the past two years. The break due to the lockdown should have done him a world of good and his change of pace, death bowling and swing could prove much more than a handful if all goes well.
Chahal is one of the best leg-spinners in the world and has been exceptional for RCB in the past. He has had a difficult year, with him and Kuldeep often being rotated for the spinner’s spot in the Indian side but his performances for the men in red and gold have been top notch and one can expect him to have a major impact in the UAE.
The Mumbai Indians’ pacer is the spearhead of the Indian attack in all formats and was in exceptional form prior to his injury towards the end of last year. His return in New Zealand felt a little premature and he looked a bit rusty and off colour, he’s another player who will have benefitted massively from the break and a fit Bumrah is the best fast bowler in the world.
ATUL KUMAR MAURYA
A 3-time IPL Orange Cap holder, the Australian opener is one of the most destructive batsmen in the history of the tournament. With the UAE pitches being on the flatter end at times, Warner won’t miss out on any opportunity of wreaking havoc on the bowlers and going for his 4th Orange Cap.
Rohit Sharma (c)
A 4-time IPL winning captain, the second highest scorer in T20Is and the third highest IPL run scorer, Rohit Sharma has records for days. After announcing that he’ll be opening the batting for Mumbai this time around, Rohit will look to add to his 4 IPL titles as captain, which’ll surely give him the instincts of a predator, waiting to pounce on every opportunity to go after the bowlers as he’s been doing for years now in the IPL.
King Kohli is aptly the ruler at the top of both the international and the IPL run scorers’ lists. Kohli has the ability to go after the bowlers and score quick runs at will, let it be any bowler against him. He’ll again be the key figure for the Bengaluru team, and just like Warner, will be looking to take advantage of the UAE conditions.
The most versatile player in the team. Rahul hasn’t looked back since the 2019 ICC World Cup and has been in blistering form since the event. A player who can play at any position, from opening the innings to No. 5 and be a back-up keeper as well, the Punjab captain will go all guns blazing in this year’s tournament, as he usually does.
Jos Buttler (wk)
The second overseas pick of the team, Buttler has been in sensational form throughout the English summer and will look to dominate the bowlers from the word go. He’ll be the man behind the sticks for the team and maybe the main man in front of it as well.
The ultimate gamechanger. Russell has the ability to change the game on its head in a matter of minutes. The West Indian has constantly shown the ability to bat with a strike rate of 150+, hitting each and every bowler outside of the park. With his mammoth presence with the bat, ball and on the field, Andre Russell is someone who should be making everyone’s combined XI.
Prepare for trouble, make it double. If Russell won’t get you, Pandya will. An all-rounder with the abilities similar to that of Russell, Pandya can bat both up and down the order and up the ante at will. With the variations of pace he has developed over the years, Pandya will prove to be deadly in the UAE conditions.
The third all-rounder in the team, Jadeja brings variety to the 11. The left-arm orthodox spinner constantly varies his pace and gains sharp turn to put the batsmen in trouble. Jadeja has a knack of going through his overs quickly, bowling a lot of dot balls in the process. With the improvement in his batting abilities in recent times in tandem with being one of the best fielders in the world, Jadeja will be one to look out for in UAE.
Kagiso Rabada is one of the best bowlers in world cricket at the moment. Rabada, who’s a master at being economical will be spearheading this XI’s bowling attack. The Proteas paceman also has a knack of chipping in with clutch wickets at clutch moments, making him one of the biggest and most dangerous assets in the death overs. A key player for the Capitals, Rabada will be one to look out for at the event this time around.
The leg-spinner of the team or rather, the chinaman. In a tough call between Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, Kuldeep made the cut in this XI on the basis of his genuine ability to deceive the batsmen with slow flighted deliveries. Kuldeep, in the middle overs has the ability to put a full-stop on the flow of runs and take wickets in the process, a rare weapon Kolkata will be looking to exploit this time as well.
The yorker specialist of the team. After gaining experience from the great Lasith Malinga throughout his IPL career, Bumrah has developed into one of the game’s most lethal bowlers. A brilliant reader of the game who can use a lot of variations to maximum use, Bumrah will be the perfect partner for Rabada to lead the attack in this XI. A master in the death overs, Mumbai Indians’ main man remains a nuisance for even the most elite batsmen in the tournament.
Jos Buttler (wk)
Ever since in 2018 when Rajasthan Royals decide to promote Jos Buttler at the top of the order, he has become the spine of the side. The Englishman can not only go big in the opening overs but also has the ability to build an innings. A showman on his day.
The Southpaw from New South Wales has been immense for the Orange army and provides the firepower required at the top of the order to maximize the powerplay. With the record for scoring the most number of fifties in IPL, David Warner cannot be overlooked while selecting any starting eleven.
It would be criminal to leave out Virat Kohli as the world’s number one batsman is in a league of his own. There is no other batsman who is better than Kohli for the No.3 spot in the batting line up. Simple.
Since becoming the captain of Delhi Capitals, we are seeing a much more mature Shreyas Iyer. Both the Delhi franchisee and the national team has benefitted from the rise of Iyer and he would provide the solidity in the middle order by batting at No.4.
MS Dhoni (c)(wk)
One of the most experienced figures in the game, Dhoni’s selection is a no brainer as he would be the perfect candidate to not only keep wickets but also lead this side. While some would argue that Rohit Sharma is a better captain as history suggests in the IPL, I believe that MS Dhoni is still the head honcho of the IPL.
For the No. 6 spot, it was a tough choice between the two Pandya brothers. However, for this team, I believe that Hardik would provide a better balance. Hardik’s fielding also just gives him an edge over his elder brother Krunal.
Along with Hardik Pandya, Russell would provide the firepower lower down the order to finish the innings. The Jamaican-born all-rounder may well be the tournament’s most devastating player and his habit of chipping in with important wickets from time to time makes him the perfect T20 player.
The leg spinner from Afghanistan would come in really handy in UAE and would be selected by SRH in pretty much every game. Rashid Khan is in a league of his own and if the previous edition of the IPL is anything to go by, I’d be worried if I were up against him.
This might look like a surprise pick to many readers, however, Shreyas Gopal would be one of the standout spinners in UAE. His wicket taking ability would be vital for the Royals if they are to have any chance of qualifying for the playoffs.
Just like Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar would be a mainstay in the SRH lineup. Having won the Purple Cap twice in the history of IPL, Bhuvi would be looking to become the leading wicket taker once again with his immaculate line and length at the start and steady yorkers in the death overs.
While Jasprit Bumrah may not have won a single Purple Cap during his time in the IPL, his importance to the team cannot be overlooked. His variations in the death overs have always troubled the very best and he has consistently proven to be the captain’s go-to-bowler when the team is desperately looking for a breakthrough. No-brainer.