The Indian Premier League (IPL), which is in its 16th season, has given us many memories to cherish. From unknown players becoming heroes to heroes becoming legends- we have witnessed several events that have made this T20 league the world's favourite and most-watched league. We have seen some of the best players from world cricket play under the same roof and showcase their skills. Every player is special and unique and has defined roles in the team. Selecting an all-time IPL XI is a tough task, and I had difficulty compiling these players into my list of all-time XI. The list includes both playing and retired players and also players who are no longer with us.
So here we go...
Be it T20 or the longer formats of the game, and openers play a crucial role in shaping a team's innings. When the openers lay a solid foundation, the workload of the rest of the players on the team becomes easier.
- Rohit Sharma: Undoubtedly, the Hitman will be my first choice to open the innings. I think Rohit is the best T20 opener in the world presently. He paces his innings with ease and grace, and the shots he plays are a treat for the eyes. Rohit Sharma is the best for using the power-play fielding restrictions. Sharma's six-hitting ability is such that he can make a mockery out of any delivery.
- AB de Villiers: The charismatic Mr 360? will be my choice to partner Rohit Sharma. We all know what he can do with the bat. Whether playing a shot straight down the wicket or over the wicket-keeper's head, ABD is a master of every shot in the book, leaving aside the shots that he is a master in manufacturing. The talismanic South African is destructive, both with the bat and on the field.
The Middle Order
On many occasions, we have seen that if the openers fail to deliver, it is up to the middle order to press the accelerator button and up the ante. A strong middle order, thus, is the backbone of the team.
- Virat Kohli: The Run Machine, Virat Kohli, is undoubtedly the best batter in every format he plays. He is second to none when pulling out the team from the debris of initial failures. The best part about his game is how he keeps the scoreboard moving. If runs don't come in boundaries, no problem, as Kohli knows how to create opportunities and sneak in ones and twos. And if the team is chasing, Kohli is the man for the occasion. He is called the Chase Master for a reason. He will also be the Vice Captain of my team.
- Yuvraj Singh: We know what he did in the 2007 T20 WC and the 2011 World Cup. Not just with the bat, but Singh can do wonders with the ball, leaving aside the energy he brings to the field while fielding. Yuvraj Singh is a player for every occasion, from scoring quick runs to taking crucial wickets to save valuable runs. The six sixes he hit Stuart Broad in the T20 WC in 2007 still give goosebumps!
- Shane Watson: A fighter, a team man, and any captain's go-to guy, Shane Watson is one player who would give any team the stability and balance they seek. Not just will Watson bowl his 4 over in a trot, but he is also known for hitting long sixes and big 100s whenever the team requires it. Watson is a big-hearted player for whom the team comes first.
- Suresh Raina: Mr. IPL, Suresh Raina, is an automatic choice in any T20 team. A gritty player, Raina is one of those players who can play multiple roles. His flexibility and the ability to fit into any position make Raina an asset to the team. And if your prime bowlers have gone for some hitting, don't worry; Raina is there to fix it.
- Mahendra Singh Dhoni: O Captain! My Captain!"MSD is not a player. He is the Phenom! Cool like a block of ice in any situation. MSD is the perfect captain of any T20 team. His ability to take a cricket match deep and pull it off in style is breathtaking. No required run rate is too high when Dhoni is at the crease. Greatest Finisher Ever- without any doubt!
I first named this segment "tail-enders," but the players I have listed in the list are by no means tail-enders. Hence, calling them others would be the safest bet.
- Ravindra Jadeja: One of the finest all-rounders of world cricket presently, Ravindra Jadeja is a tail-ender by no means. He can bat at any position from position 1 to 11. He is a rare breed of cricketer who can instantly take the game away from the opposition. Like a fox, Jadeja's rabbit-like agility and cunningness have taken several players off-guard. He can produce impossible and unthinkable run-outs as a fielder, thus turning the game in his team's favour quickly.
- Shane Warne: Who can forget the Wizard, who won the inaugural IPL season in 2008? He led a team that virtually had no big names. Warne's ability to turn the ball on any surface made him one of the greatest players ever. Though leg spinners are taken for plenty, Warne was different. His mere presence made an ordinary bowling attack look like a champion unit.
- Zaheer Khan: The only bowler I have watched who could bowl six Yorkers at a stretch. The master of swing, Zaheer Khan, can make the opposition batters dance on the crease from left to right. His hitting abilities also became handy lower down the order when the team required some quick runs.
- Lasith Malinga: Whenever someone takes his name, the only word that comes to mind is 'toe crusher.' Yes, Malinga's toe-crushing Yorkers were a treat to watch. Raw pace, extreme swing, and subtle aggression are what Malinga is all about. Known for taking four wickets in four successive bowls, Malinga is one such bowler who could single-handedly make the impossible possible. His unique round-arm action complicated things further. Lasith Malinga is a must-bowler of any bowling attack, not just in T20.
Any successful IPL team needs to have a balance, and I have tried my best to keep that balance while choosing my players. Some big names have missed out as a team can have only 11 players in the playing eleven if more players could have played the game!
So, this was my All-Time XI of IPL at your disposal. What is yours? I am sure you also have a list of players you think are the best in the world. So, why don't you write about them and share them with us?