With the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 just around the corner and the best of world cricket in Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo amongst others coming together, we thought of looking for possible combinations of players who could make it to the Team of the Year when the season ends.
A few pointers to consider here are that we’ve listed these candidates keeping the conditions they will face in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in consideration and have also adhered to the four overseas rule of the competition. The recent form and their IPL record have also been big factors during the selection process. So let’s get to it straight away.
This was arguably the toughest position to get right. All the eight IPL teams have world-class opening batsmen who are regularly pushing one another to get better. For this year, we feel Sunrisers Hyderabad captain David Warner and Kings XI Punjab’s newly-appointed captain KL Rahul will be standout players.
Warner has been an IPL G.O.A.T in recent years. He captained Sunrisers to their maiden IPL trophy in 2016 and has won the Orange Cap award in three of the past five seasons. Since 2016, he has averaged over 60 in the IPL with a strike rate of around 145. His numbers are exceptional and all the signs suggest that he’ll have yet another successful campaign.
KL Rahul, on the other hand, is India’s best T20 batsman and his record certainly suggests that. He has averaged over 50 in the past three years of the IPL and a relatively high strike rate as well. This year he’ll be leading the Punjab team and hopefully contribute to their first-ever IPL trophy. We believe he’s in for yet another successful season with the bat.
Here a shoutout should also go out to Jos Butler, Sunil Narine, Rohit Sharma, Jonny Bairstow and Chris Gayle. These players are also outstanding openers in this format but have just missed the cut.
MIDDLE ORDER BATSMEN
Two of India’s stalwarts in white-ball cricket make it to our middle order. The wickets in the UAE are expected to be spinner-friendly and who other than Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni to help the team in the all-important middle overs. Both of them are excellent players of spin and run extremely well between the wickets. Both can play the anchor role when the team needs it and can up the tempo a notch when the situations demand. Both are lethal in the last phase of the innings and strike at almost 200 in the death overs – the ideal partnership you need in those conditions. Another no brainer was that the great MS Dhoni will lead this team and will don the wicket keeping gloves as well.
A perfect T20 team needs at least two players who are equally capable with both bat and ball. These players provide the team with the much-needed stability and the captain with more bowling options to mix it up in the difficult phase of the game. At number 5, 6 and 7, we have Hardik Pandya, Andre Russell and Krunal Pandya, respectively. Three of the best all-rounders in the tournament and electric fielders on the ground. The batting order between them can be flexible and given the match situation, they can be shuffled around. The attacking prowess of these three will cause trouble to even the best bowling line-ups of the world.
We’ve gone with two wrist-spinners for these spots. These two were extremely successful in the past few years in the IPL and will relish bowling in the UAE conditions. Last year’s Purple Cap winner, Imran Tahir and the man who is considered as one of the best spinners in the format, Rashid Khan are our two picks. Both are genuine match-winners on their day and if need be, then Rashid can tonk the ball to different corners of the ground as well. They will take up the two remaining overseas spots in the eleven.
With no overseas spot available, we’ve gone with the best fast bowling options India has currently. One man who is an automatic pick is Mumbai Indians’ Jasprit Bumrah. He can bowl over with the new ball, one in the middle phase to go for a wicket and can look to finish the innings off with two in the death overs. With all the variations he possesses, his genuine pace and the ability to nail the yorkers in the death overs makes him the perfect T20 bowler.
The man who will share the new ball with him will be Chennai Super Kings’ Deepak Chahar. He is brilliant with the new ball and can easily cause problems to the opposition opening batsmen by swinging the new ball up front. He is decent in the death overs as well and most people don’t realise that. But in an ideal world, you’d want him to bowl three with the new ball and one at the end.
The other options for this spot were Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Shami, Jaidev Unadkat and Sandeep Sharma. Anyone of these bowlers can step us this year and deliver for their respective teams.
So here’s how the IPL 2020 Team of the Year may shape up:
David Warner, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni (WK) (C), Hardik Pandya, Andre Russell, Krunal Pandya, Rashid Khan, Deepak Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Imran Tahir
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