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The IPL 2021 team of the tournament (so far)

The season may have been abruptly cut short, but there were a number of players who dazzled us with their performances

Sreshth Shah
Sreshth Shah
Delhi Capitals' Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw were in top form in the 2021 season  •  BCCI/IPL

Delhi Capitals' Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw were in top form in the 2021 season  •  BCCI/IPL

There were a number of great performers in the 29 games that were played in the IPL 2021, which was paused due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Here is ESPNcricinfo's staffers' team of the tournament (thus far)
1. Shikhar Dhawan (380 runs, ave 54.28, three fifties)
Dhawan returned home with the Orange Cap for the most runs. He began the season with a match-winning 54-ball 85 against the Chennai Super Kings. Then against Punjab Kings, he wallopped 92 in 49 balls as he married precision with power in equal measure and followed it up with an unbeaten 69 to anchor a second win against the same side. In between, he notched up two more forties. Dhawan also hit the most fours (43) this season.
2. Prithvi Shaw (308 runs, strike rate 166.48, three fifties)
After a forgettable IPL 2020, all eyes were on Shaw this season after superb white-ball performances in domestic cricket. He mauled a 38-ball 72 against the Super Kings. Then against Sunrisers Hyderabad, he played a patient 39-ball 53 on a two-paced surface. And against Kolkata Knight Riders, his 41-ball 82 was set up by the first over against Shivam Mavi where he hit his Under-19 World Cup batch-mate for six fours in an over. Shaw pipped Faf du Plessis to the second opener's spot after a 7-5 vote by the jury.
3. Moeen Ali (206 runs, strike rate 157.25, 5 wickets)
The Super Kings' 2021 auction recruit took the No. 3 spot and helped his side change gears with his cameos. He also hit a fifty against the Mumbai Indians in a high-scoring contest. His aggressive shot selection helped the well-equipped Super Kings middle order to carry the momentum and helped them post scores of 220, 218, 191, 188 and 188. With the ball, he was used almost always against left-handers alone, and his best performance was a 3 for 7 against the Rajasthan Royals.
4. Sanju Samson (wicketkeeper) (277 runs, strike rate 145.78, 1 hundred)
Samson lit the tournament up early with a brilliant century, in a loss against the Punjab Kings. His 119 (12 fours and seven sixes) nearly took the Royals over the line as he failed to deposit a six off the final ball of the match in a chase of 222. Then came a string of low scores for the side's captain, but his return to form with scores of 42*, 42, and 48 in his last three games was interrupted by the tournament's postponement. He is also the wicketkeeper of our side.
5. AB de Villiers (207 runs, strike rate 164.28, average 51.75, 2 fifties)
Although de Villiers did not play any cricket since IPL 2020, there was no rustiness in his batting. His 27-ball 48 against Mumbai ensured the Royal Challengers Bangalore started the tournament with a win. Then came his unbeaten 34-ball 76 in an afternoon game against the Knight Riders where he hit Andre Russell to all parts in the death overs and followed it up with the 42-ball 75 against the Capitals. He helped the Royal Challengers win the game by a run, as he went after Kagiso Rabada and Marcus Stoinis in particular. It was de Villiers' first time batting a whole season at No. 5, and he aced the challenge with flying colours.
6. Kieron Pollard (captain) (168 runs, strike rate 171.42, average 56.00, 3 wickets)
After hitting just 12 runs in his first two games, Pollard returned to form when he creamed three sixes in a 22-ball 35 against the Sunrisers and followed it up with a two-over spell at an economy of only five. Pollard saved his best for the blockbuster against the Super Kings. He dismissed du Plessis and Suresh Raina, going only for only 12 in two overs in a game where both teams scored over 200. With Mumbai's backs against the wall in the chase, he masterminded a counterattack by smashing 87 at a strike-rate of 255.88 to chase down 219 off the game's last ball. The jury also picked Pollard as the team's captain, over the only other option Samson.
7. Ravindra Jadeja (131 runs, strike rate 161.72. six wickets, economy 6.70)
In his six outings, Jadeja was out only once, and played the role of the finisher so well that he came out to bat ahead of MS Dhoni and Sam Curran on most occasions. Although his unbeaten knocks of 26 and 22 against the Capitals and Mumbai came in the Super Kings' only two losses, he produced one of the best all-round performances in IPL history against the Royal Challengers. He first destroyed the 20th over from Harshal Patel to extract 37 runs from it to finish on a 28-ball 64. He then followed it up with a three-for that included the wickets of Glenn Maxwell and de Villiers. And to top it off, he also effected a direct-hit run out in the same game.
8. Rashid Khan (10 wickets, average 17.20, economy 6.14)
One of the few bright spots in a disappointing season for the Sunrisers, Rashid was the second-highest wicket-taker among spinners and had the best economy of all those who delivered 12 or more overs. The quality of his wickets are even more remarkable: Shubman Gill and Russell against the Knight Riders. Gayle against Punjab, de Villiers against the Royal Challengers, Dhawan against Capitals and Ruturaj Gaikwad, du Plessis and Moeen against the Super Kings. He also bowled a Super Over against the Capitals, and nearly defended a target of 8.
9. Rahul Chahar (11 wickets, average 18.36, strike rate 15.2)
Chahar was the best spinner in the tournament. Whenever Mumbai needed a breakthrough, they turned to Chahar, and he almost always delivered. His four-for against the Knight Riders helped set up an unlikely win. His 3 for 19 against the Sunrisers bowled them out for 137. And his 2 for 33 put the brakes on the rampaging Royals opening stand, as he dismissed Jos Buttler and Yashasvi Jaiswal in quick succession. With other Indian wristspinners struggling in the tournament, Chahar's IPL performances have made him a frontrunner for a starting spot in India's T20I team.
10. Avesh Khan (14 wickets, average 16.50, strike rate 12.8)
Avesh Khan 2.0, a leaner, fitter version of his past self was so successful for the Capitals that he was preferred ahead of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav. He bowled the difficult transitionary overs between the powerplays and also at the death. He took a wicket in all eight games with two three-fors. His ability to get seam movement with the hard ball and execute yorkers with the older ball made him the player with the most impact points per match average in the whole season, according to ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats. Khan's consistent performances also helped him get a call up as a standby for India's red-ball tour of England next month.
11. Jasprit Bumrah (6 wickets, economy 7.11)
The wickets may have dried up for Bumrah, but the impact has not. And that's because he is now usually reserved for the back end of the innings where the economy is more impact than wickets. Bumrah's performance this season gave batsmen a big dilemma. Because if they tried to attack him, they would get out. And if they did not, they would allow the required run-rate to balloon. Either way, Bumrah was king when he had the ball with his wide yorkers and back-of-length balls that awkwardly angle into the batter, or the yorker around leg stump. The way Boult and Bumrah hunted in pairs was a sight to behold.

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx