Gayle, Hussey in IPL Dream XI, Dravid captain
Controversies may have marred the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League in its closing stages, but there is no doubting that the cash-rich Twenty20 event is the most popular of cricket tournaments and continues to attract the fancy of millions worldwide.
Before spot-fixing reared its ugly head there were many good performances as top players from around the world, in nine different franchises, battled it out against each other.
Left-handers Chris Gayle and Mike Hussey scored runs in tons, while the likes of Dwayne Bravo, Harbhajan Singh and Dale Steyn showed there is still a place for bowlers in T20 cricket.
Rahul Dravid was easily the most outstanding captain in the tournament and nearly carried Rajasthan Royals, devoid of superstars, all the way through.
Ever thought what would happen if all these players were part of one team? In fact, it would be nice to try picking your best players than can make up an invincible eleven.
Let's make your task a bit simpler. Check out Rediff.com's IPL Dream XI:
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Chris Gayle will probably be the first player on everyone's list when they sit down to pen their best T20 team.
The West Indian took the shortest format by storm and destroyed virtually every attack he was up against.
This year he made his IPL stint memorable by hitting the fastest century in T20 cricket, when he smashed a 30-ball century against Pune Warriors en route to a magical knock of 175 from 66 balls.
He finished the tournament as the second highest run-scorer with a massive tally of 708 runs in 16 matches, at an average of 59, with a strike rate of 156. He hit as many as 51 sixes to go with 57 boundaries, but, despite his batting heroics, Royal Challengers Bangalore could not advance to the play-offs.
He may have quit international cricket but veteran Aussie Mike Hussey proved his hunger for runs remains unsatiated.
The left-hander finished as the tournament's top scorer with 733 runs from 17 games, at an average of 52, hitting six half-centuries in the process.
He played an instrumental role in Chennai Super Kings' impressive run to the IPL final, where his rare failure probably cost them the title.
Suresh Raina has never missed an IPL match since its inception in 2008 and is one of Chennai Super Kings' key performers with the bat.
He is the only batsman to score 400 or more runs in every edition of the tournament.
This year too, he blossomed after a lacklustre start to hit up 548 runs in 18 matches, which included a century and a 99 not out.
This was one of the toughest phases of Rahul Dravid's cricketing career. Rajasthan Royals' tournament suffered a major jolt midway when three of their players - Shantakumaran Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan - were arrested for their alleged role in spot-fixing, but he didn't let the setback affect the team's campaign.
The former India captain and batting great drew on all his experience and motivated his team to the play-offs. He led the way with a splendid showing with the bat, scoring 471 runs in 18 matches, a strike rate of 110.
Rajasthan also managed to unearth quite a few young talents like Sanju Samson, Rahul Shukla and Dishant Yagnik, courtesy Dravid, who promoted the youngsters quite well at different stages in the tournament by throwing them in the middle in pressure situations.
Even though he has crossed 40, Dravid was one of the fittest players in the tournament. If not for the controversy, you never know, Rajasthan Royals could have gone all the way and captured the IPL title.
He gets our vote for the best captain of the tournament and deserves to lead the IPL Dream XI.
Shane Watson was named the 'Most Valuable Player' of the tournament, and deservedly so!
He was the first century-maker in this year's IPL and played quite a few splendid innings with the bat for Rajasthan. The Australian all-rounder scored 543 runs from 16 games, at an amazing strike rate of 142.
Watson also proved his utility with the ball, claiming 13 wickets, at an average of 22.92 to underline his status as one of the top all-rounders in world cricket.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit 63 not out from 45 balls, but despite that Chennai Super Kings lost the IPL final to Mumbai Indians. This was the first time in the history of the IPL that Chennai lost a match while chasing with Dhoni at the crease.
However, Dhoni's captaincy skills were again top notch as he finished off a couple of matches with the bat when chasing.
Chennai also had their fair share of controversy ahead of the final, their team principal Gurunath Meiyappan being arrested by the Mumbai police for allegedly betting on IPL matches and having links with bookies.
Dhoni tallied 461 runs in 18 matches, inclusive of four half-centuries, at an amazing strike rate of 162, proving he is the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the world in the shorter formats of the game.
Kieron Pollard is one of most sought after cricketers in T20 cricket. He proved his credentials yet again as he played a crucial match-winning role with the bat to help Mumbai Indians win their first ever IPL title.
Pollard slammed 60 from 32 balls and bowled a good spell in the final against Chennai Super Kings.
He also excelled with the bat in the group stages, hitting three half-centuries, to tally 420 runs, at an average of 42, with a strike rate of 149.
The West Indies ace also claimed 10 wickets, chipped in with useful overs and held quite a few brilliant catches.
Dwayne Bravo may have become a crowd favourite for his varied dance styles after taking catches, but it was the bowling that did the trick for Chennai Super Kings.
The West Indian all-rounder was the only bowler to cross the 30-wicket barrier in the IPL, claiming 32 wickets in 18 games, at an average of 15.
He was a constant presence in the CSK line-up throughout the tournament and one of most difficult bowlers to negotiate as he used the change of pace quite well.
He did not get many opportunities with the bat, coming in late down the order, but finished with 121 runs in the tournament.
Dropped from India's Champions Trophy squad, this was the perfect opportunity for Harbhajan Singh to prove his worth, and he did it some style.
He took time to get started and struggled for wickets at the start of the tournament, but once he found his groove there was no stopping the ace off-spinner.
Harbhajan finished with an impressive haul of 24 wickets in 19 matches at an average of 19 and a splendid economy rate of 6.51.
The feisty off-spinner proved he is back to his best and there is still more cricket left in him.
The IPL was also the second coming for Amit Mishra. The leg-spinner was in prime form throughout the tournament, claiming 21 wickets in 17 games, at an impressive economy rate of 6.35.
His splendid performances also caught the fancy of the national selectors, who picked him for the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy.
He became the first player to claim three hat-tricks in the Indian Premier League when he took three wickets off successive deliveries against Pune Warriors. The 30-year-old also boasts of the unique record of taking three hat-tricks for three different teams.
Dale Steyn fired on all cylinders to spearhead Sunrisers Hyderabad's campaign with the ball. He played a leading role in the unfancied team making it to the play-offs ahead of the other big teams.
The South African pace spearhead played most of his matches on the slow pitches in Hyderabad but despite that proved unstoppable.
He took 19 wickets in the tournament, but what was the most impressive part of his bowling was his economy rate of 5.66 despite bowling with the new ball in all his 17 matches when the field restrictions were in place.
Sanju Samson hit the headlines in the IPL with his gusty batting for Rajasthan Royals.
The Kerala batsman came into the tournament without much experience in domestic cricket but gave abundance proof of his potential with a few good knocks.
One of his most cherished innings was the 63 he scored from 41 balls as Rajasthan Royals shocked Royal Challengers Bangalore by four wickets despite being set a huge 172 for victory.
His captain, Dravid, rates him as a youngster for the future. Indeed, he certainly has what it takes to make it big on the international stage.
Well, these 12 players make up our dream team. You too can write in and let us know your IPL Dream team.
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