IPL 2012 May 28, 2012

The team of the tournament

A shoo-in at the top, a shoo-in at the bottom and plenty of match-winners in between

Here's our dream IPL XI for 2012. We've chosen only four foreign players, and tried to pick players in the roles they performed most during the season

1. Chris Gayle
Runs 733, strike rate 161, sixes 59
A no-brainer at the top of the order. Let's move on.

2. Gautam Gambhir (capt)
Runs 590, strike rate 144, 50s 6
Edged out Virender Sehwag, Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane for the other opener's slot because of his consistency and ability to score on difficult Eden Gardens pitches. Gambhir's passion trumped MS Dhoni's cool, so he's our captain. Also because of this legendary line, "We did it for Balaji."

3. Suresh Raina
Runs 441, strike rate 136, wickets 2, economy 7.50
Had an average season before a blitz in the final, during which he pulled bouncers and successfully attacked Sunil Narine. Made the cut because he can chip in with a couple of overs of spin if one of our bowlers has an off day. Raina was expectedly exceptional at cover.

4. Jacques Kallis
Runs 409, strike rate 107, wickets 15, economy 7.46
The dearth in quality Indian allrounders meant this role had go to an overseas player - Kallis, Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson, Kieron Pollard and Azhar Mahmood were the contenders. Kallis won because he was in better bowling form than the rest, and that majestic extra cover drive off Bravo in the final was the highlight of an innings that captured Kallis at his reliable best (in the T20 format, of course).

5. Rohit Sharma
Runs 433, strike rate 127, best 109*
Played one of the innings of the tournament on a not-so-easy pitch at Eden Gardens. Didn't have a spectacular season but still was one of the better Indian middle-order batsmen going around. Pairs up with Raina to strengthen the off-side field.

6. MS Dhoni (wk)
Runs 357, strike rate 129
Overseas players are more useful as bowlers or allrounders - unless you're Gayle - so this spot had to go to an Indian, ruling out AB de Villiers and Kumar Sangakkara. Among the Indians, Dhoni did not have much competition. Dinesh Karthik, anyone? While his keeping was top notch right through, Dhoni's batting was ordinary until the playoffs, and then he brought out the helicopter shot and everything else.

7. Ambati Rayudu
Runs 333, strike rate 132
The finisher in our team. Rayudu often had to speed up innings after Mumbai Indians' top order took its time, and he performed the role admirably. Good to watch too, played almost no cringe-worthy shots.

8. Dale Steyn
Wickets 18, average 16, economy 6.10
Perhaps the toughest spot to fill because Morne Morkel and Lasith Malinga were worthy contenders. Both of them, however, flagged towards the end of the season but Steyn left with the spell of the tournament. His 3 for 8 that knocked out Royal Challengers was unmatched for its hostile accuracy and frightening pace. It takes someone special to rattle Gayle.

9. Parvinder Awana
Wickets 17, average 22, economy 7.91
With quality Indian fast bowlers in short supply, Awana was one of the best on show in the IPL. A vital cog in the Kings XI attack, he bowled at brisk pace and moved the ball away consistently.

10. Umesh Yadav
Wickets 19, average 24, economy 7.42
The highest Indian wicket-taker, although Umesh did play five more games than Awana did. Vinay Kumar also claimed 19 but his economy rate was poor. Umesh found the Kotla pitch to his liking - it was fast and had bounce.

11. Sunil Narine
Wickets 24, average 13.50, economy 5.47
Another no-brainer, and he has a mohawk too. No other spinner came close.

12th man Steven Smith
Because he fields like superman would have.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo