IPL 2016 May 30, 2016

Morris and Mustafizur, Krunal and Chahal in IPL XI

Who makes it to the IPL XI for 2016? Here are ESPNcricinfo's picks, keeping in mind the four-overseas-players rule

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O'Brien and Agarkar's team of the season

1. Virat Kohli - 973 runs, 152.03 strike rate
Runs against all kinds of bowling. Runs all around the ground. Runs all across the country. A lot of runs that stated Test-match strokeplay has a place in T20s. Not sure what more he needs to prove. Perhaps the existence of time travel.

2. David Warner - 848 runs, 151.42 strike rate
The critics said his team's batting was suspect. His single-handed efforts showed the rest how to do it. Sunrisers Hyderabad may not have become champions if not for his masterful 93 not out in the second qualifier.

3. AB de Villiers - 687 runs, 168.79 strike rate
Scored IPL 2016's fastest century from No. 3 and hunkered down to salvage a failing innings from the same position in a big-match scenario. Considering his reality-bending batting and the chemistry with Kohli, perhaps he should try bending space-time next.

4. KL Rahul - 397 runs, 146.49 strike rate, five catches, four stumpings
Began his tournament trying to fit in among the sloggers, then realised his USP is playing proper shots. Provided Royal Challengers peace of mind with four fifties when Chris Gayle was misfiring. Had to deal with keeping wicket too.

The best wicketkeeper-batsman in IPL 2016, arguably, was Quinton de Kock but he would be one overseas player too many in this XI. MS Dhoni made some fantastic saves, with his legs no less, but barring one innings in a dead rubber he didn't do too well with the bat. So Rahul was the best choice despite a few lapses; his reprieve of Andre Russell may well have cost his team a game from a winning position.

5. Yusuf Pathan - 361 runs, 145.56 strike rate
At one stage, he was averaging more than Kohli. Finished with 72.20, although eight not-outs in 13 innings helped. But that's what is required of a finisher. Seeing a chase through. Did spectacularly in Bangalore, when he took a task of 120 in 11 overs and wrestled it to the ground with five balls to spare.

6. Chris Morris - 195 runs, 178.89 strike rate; 13 wickets, 7.00 economy rate
Edged out Shane Watson and Andre Russell because of his range of skills. He made a fifty on Test debut, so he can bat properly, and he made a 17-ball fifty in the IPL, so he can bat crazily. Is a standout with the ball as well, courtesy his ability to rush batsmen with pace and bounce, and undo them with excellent yorkers.

7. Krunal Pandya - 237 runs, 191.12 strike rate; six wickets, 7.57 economy rate
Most of his runs came up the order, including a blinding 86 off 37 balls against Delhi Daredevils. But his clean ball-striking could be effective down the order as well. His left-arm spin is rapid and accurate, so batsmen can rarely use the pace to their advantage. Dismissed de Villiers and Kohli in the same over. Dismissed de Villiers again in Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore's next encounter.

8. Bhuvneshwar Kumar - 23 wickets, 7.42 economy rate
Swings the new ball. Jams the old one into the batsmen's toes. Trusted himself to execute yorkers - a ball which, if misplaced by an inch, could go a mile - at a time when bowlers prefer other options. Was Mr Dependable for Sunrisers - all the more impressive considering he bowled an over that cost 28 runs in his first game of the season.

9. Yuzvendra Chahal - 21 wickets, 8.15 economy rate
The fact that he played most of his games at M Chinnaswamy Stadium - one of the smallest grounds in the IPL - and ended up the second-highest wicket-taker in the tournament speaks of his knack for T20 cricket, and also pushed him into this XI ahead of Amit Mishra, who is arguably the better all-format bowler.

10. Dhawal Kulkarni - 18 wickets, 7.42 economy rate
A T20 game is usually won or lost in the early exchanges. With his 14 wickets in the Powerplay, Kulkarni is an asset. It wasn't often that he bowled in the slog overs but with Bhuvneshwar, Morris and the next man in, he doesn't need to in this side. He made it here ahead of the Sharmas, Sandeep and Mohit.

11. Mustafizur Rahman - 17 wickets, 6.90 economy rate
He kind of already makes time stop still with his cutters. Just ask any batsmen he has dismissed. He pitches the ball outside leg to tempt the slog and gets it to break off the deck towards the outside edge. And he has a mean yorker. The one that left Russell on the ground with his stumps askew provided one of the images of the IPL.

Now, who should captain this XI? Warner took the trophy. He played with the added pressure that came with the knowledge that the Sunrisers middle order wasn't performing and he had to provide the bulk of the runs. On the other hand, Kohli had to deal with losing Mitchell Starc and Samuel Badree - two of his spearheads - to injury, was imaginative with his fields and bowling changes, and raised his game when Royal Challengers needed to win four out of four to make the playoffs; the lowest score he was dismissed in that period was 109. So, flip a coin and choose.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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