AB de Villiers is a genius. At the age of 37, he is proving that he still has a lot to give to cricket.
These are the players that will dominate this season of the IPL.
1. David Warner (vice-captain) (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Barring the 2018 IPL when he was replaced by an equally potent and wonderful Kane Williamson both in terms of captaincy and number of runs, David Warner has scored above 500 runs in every single IPL since 2015. That is so remarkable that he’s it achieved so many times that his performance in 2020 of 548 runs seems mediocre by his standards. If it was any other batsman barring Virat Kohli, scoring a whopping 500 runs is seen as a great accomplishment by the league’s standards. David Warner has also been in good form of late, scoring 108 against Tasmania in a recent List A game and he becomes a different kind of beast in the IPL. He was also chosen to be the vice-captain of the team, due to his experience and the fear factor of the opposition bowlers.
2. Rohit Sharma (captain) (Mumbai Indians)
There was a bit of a toss-up between Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, given the latter won the orange cap last year and picked up his form in the ODIs against England. However, there is no question if Rohit Sharma goes berserk in an AB de Villiers or Chris Gayle kind of way on his day, there is no stopping him. And given his captaincy record, there was no way he would not have been the captain of this side. Apologies MS Dhoni fans, he would have definitely made the list pre-2017 as the captain.
3. Virat Kohli (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Virat Kohli is a man that needs no introduction. That season when he scored almost 1000 runs in 2016 was nothing short of remarkable. While he may not have scored a century since 2019, he has scored consistently above 50 in the recently concluded series against England. Virat Kohli has also announced he will be opening for the Royal Challengers Bangalore and a lot of cricketing experts have put their money on him winning the orange cap. While he is likely to be the captain of India’s World T20 campaign, given his captaincy record in the IPL, Rohit Sharma and David Warner were still chosen over him.
4. Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper) (Delhi Capitals)
As a Brit, that Gabba match was a pleasure to watch and it personally gave me the feeling of happiness like that of Ben Stokes’ Headingley wonder. However, my Australian girlfriend was not as pleased with that match and there was only one reason behind that: Rishabh Pant. If Pant was a stock, had you invested in him before IPL 2020 and still kept those stocks, you would have ended up becoming a millionaire. That’s the pedigree of what he has achieved in the last few months and with the Delhi Capitals’ captaincy, there is every possibility that he will take his game to the next level.
5. Ravindra Jadeja (Chennai Super Kings)
Sir Ravindra Jadeja as they call him in India deserves nothing short of that knighthood for his heroics in that India versus New Zealand semi-final. While we were all aware of his potent bowling ability and that he is one of the best fielders in modern-day cricket, you must also note that he has worked on his batting in recent years. There is every possibility that Dhoni and Stephen Fleming might choose to send him in at number three or number four this season to maximise his utility as a player.
6. Hardik Pandya (Mumbai Indians)
With a strike rate of 200 in the death overs, he is almost more potent but more consistent than Andre Russell of the Knight Riders. Hardik Pandya has now become a household name all over the cricketing world. With his explosive style of play, excellent fielding standards and his ability to bowl at good speeds with variations, he has definitely been one of the pillars of the success of the Mumbai Indians and India.
7. Rashid Khan (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Rashid Khan in 2017 was a player who could not be read and was lethal to the opposition. Rashid Khan in 2020 is a player who could not be read and was lethal to the opposition. Rashid Khan has single-handedly taken Afghan cricket to new levels and played an instrumental role in Sunrisers Hyderbad’s success in recent years. A gut feeling says he might just take the purple cap given that the Sunrisers play the majority of their matches in spin-friendly conditions in Chennai and Delhi.
8. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult, Jofra Archer, Kagiso Rabada or Pat Cummins – these are the names that come to mind when you ask about who are the best pace bowlers in 2021. These bowlers definitely have the ability to bowl over 140 kilometres per hour. Then there is Bhuvenshwar Kumar, who apparently bowls slower than Hardik Pandya, between 120 and 135 on average. He can get the bowl to swing either way, and knows when to bowl the knuckle ball. However, while he has these variations, they are no different to something other faster bowlers cannot use. But he fits the perfect definition of a smart cricketer. He knows just when to use these variations and to what magnitude in the context of the game. As he recently proved in the recently concluded ODI series, he can bowl at the start, in the middle or at the death but can be as economical and even wicket-taking regardless of match conditions or the situation.
9. Trent Boult (Mumbai Indians)
The Mumbai Indians in 2020 saw a very interesting trade, that of Trent Boult coming in from the Delhi Capitals. The Delhi Capitals would have reconsidered that transfer if Delhi knew that this bowler would use his lightning bolts to destroy the Delhi batsmen in the finals and let the Mumbai Indians defend their title. With a brilliant record in T20s and a noticeable increase in his skill since the 2019 World Cup, this Kiwi is one of the most lethal bowlers in every way.
10. Kagiso Radaba (Delhi Capitals)
The purple cap winner in 2020 and perhaps South Africa’s way to rebuild their might that they lost in the previous few years, Kagiso Rabada is a vital key for any team he plays in. He can bowl fast, he can bowl with variations, he can swing and he can bowl yorkers. He has played under 50 Test matches and already has achieved over 200 Test wickets. That shows the calibre of Kagiso Rabada. Let’s hope he can continue to spearhead the attack of South Africa and Delhi for years to come.
11. Jasprit Bumrah (Mumbai Indians)
He took a wicket on that no ball in 2017 Champions Trophy final. There is Jasprit Bumrah before and after that game. If there is an unfortunate incident that acts like a catalyst for a player to achieve wonders, then this is the perfect example. With over 100 wickets in under 70 ODIs and 83 wickets in under 20 Test matches, his numbers for an Indian pace bowler are staggering. He has now shot to be one of the world’s most potent and deadly pacers. It is likely when he retires, he will be seen in the same league as Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath, Dale Steyn or Shane Bond.
I also picked an alternative XI because there are so many players, an alternative list was also produced.
My second team is Shikhar Dhawan (Delhi Capitals), KL Rahul (Punjab Kings) (vice-captain), Suryakumar Yadav (Mumbai Indians), Kane Williamson (captain) (Sunrisers Hyderabad), AB de Villiers (Royal Challengers Bangalore), Ishan Kishan (Mumbai Indians) (wicketkeeper), Andre Russell (Kolkata Knight Riders), Jofra Archer (Rajasthan Royals), Mohammed Shami (Punjab Kings), Thangarasu Natarajan (Sunrisers Hyderabad) and Varun Chakravarthy (Kolkata Knight Riders).
There are many great players that are not part of the list, such as Dev Padikkal, Chris Gayle, Jonny Bairstow or Sam Curran. However, there are many more of these excellent players to watch out for.