The team of the tournament
A best XI of this IPL season, without a limit on the number of foreign players, might look like this: Gayle, Hussey, Kohli, Watson, Miller, Dhoni, Johnson, Steyn, Faulkner, Malinga and Narine, with Pollard as 12th man. A wealthy franchise owner's dream.
Reality, however, dictates that only four foreign players may be on the field at any point of time during a game, and that was the brief for our ESPNcricinfo staff in India while voting for the best XI of 2013. Three foreign players - Chris Gayle, Michael Hussey and Dale Steyn - were in such irresistible form that they picked themselves, but there was a tie in the number of votes for the fourth, between Shane Watson and James Faulkner.
Picking Watson would result in a line up of match-winning batsmen until No. 7, a strategy used by Chennai Super Kings to steamroll into the final, but it would require Watson to bowl a full quota of four overs, which he's done in only six out of 16 games this season. Choosing Faulkner, however, meant a bowling attack comprising five specialists, a tactic used by the champions Mumbai Indians. A specialist batsman at No. 7 is a bit of a luxury in the Twenty20 format, so Faulkner made the cut.
The notable foreign players to miss out on that fourth spot were Kieron Pollard, Mitchell Johnson, Sunil Narine, Lasith Malinga, David Miller, AB de Villiers, and top wicket-taker Dwayne Bravo, who lost out to Faulkner because of a much inferior economy rate.
The Indian players were far easier to pick. Virat Kohli was the only unanimous choice in the XI, and Mohit Sharma the only uncapped player. The only other Indian quicks to get votes were Vinay Kumar, who was too expensive, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was impressive but not compelling enough.
It was a close-run thing between Rohit Sharma and Stuart Binny, the difference between them being one vote. Rohit, who took over the Mumbai leadership from Ricky Ponting and led them to their maiden IPL title, slotted in as vice-captain, largely because MS Dhoni had more votes. Binny was the 12th man. Had Shikhar Dhawan not been injured for six games, he would have been a strong contender too.
The XI comprises five specialist batsmen, a wicketkeeper-batsman, three fast bowlers, an offspinner and a legspinner.
Team of the tournament
1. Chris Gayle (RCB) - 708 runs, average 59, strike rate 156
2. Michael Hussey (CSK) - 733 runs, average 52, strike rate 129
3. Virat Kohli (RCB) - 634 runs, average 45, strike rate 139
4. Suresh Raina (CSK) - 548 runs, average 42, strike rate 150
5. Rohit Sharma (Mumbai) - 538 runs, average 38, strike rate 132
6. MS Dhoni (CSK) - 461 runs, average 42, strike rate 163
7. James Faulkner (Royals) - 28 wickets, average 15, economy rate 6.75
8. Harbhajan Singh (Mumbai) - 24 wickets, average 19, economy rate 6.51
9. Amit Mishra (Sunrisers) - 21 wickets, average 19, economy rate 6.35
10. Dale Steyn (Sunrisers) - 19 wickets, average 20, economy rate 5.66
11. Mohit Sharma (CSK) - 20 wickets, average 16, economy rate 6.43
12th man: Stuart Binny (Royals) - 293 runs, average 33, strike rate 147
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo