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The IPL Dream XI

By HARISH KOTIAN
October 18, 2021 09:18 IST
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IMAGE: Openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis each scored 600 plus runs to power Chennai Super Kings to their fourth IPL title. Photograph: BCCI
 

The Indian Premier League, played over two parts, lived up to its billing as the cricketing world's top T20 extravaganza.

The second leg of the tournament in the UAE brought joy to millions still trying to adjust to life amidst the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

Cricket fans glued to the action witnessed India's young stars Ruturaj Gaikwad, Venkatesh Iyer, Harshal Patel and Avesh Khan come up with world-class performances.

Among the international stars, Faf du Plessis saved his best for last while showing he hasn't lost any of his batting prowess, while Glenn Maxwell's explosive batting made Royal Challengers Bangalore a potent force.

Harish Kotian picks his IPL Dream XI:

 

Ruturaj Gaikwad

Ruturaj Gaikwad

Ruturaj Gaikwad took the IPL by storm with superb batting performances in IPL 2021, both in India and in the UAE.

The young Punekar's performances played a major role in Chennai Super Kings's title triumph, making many rate him as the next big thing in Indian cricket.

Rutu finished as the highest run-getter in IPL 2021 with 635 runs, at a strike rate of 136, which included four fifties and a century.

 

Faf du Plessis

Faf du Plessis

Faf du Plessis etched his name in CSK folklore with a match-winning knock in the final against the Kolkata Knight Riders.

The South African, who was not picked by his country for the T20 World Cup, showed he still has it in to excel in the big games. He smashed a brilliant 86 from 59 balls, hitting seven fours and three sixes, to guide CSK to their fourth IPL title.

Faf finished a close second to opening partner Gaikwad in the IPL run scoring chart, with 633 runs, at a strike rate of 138, and six fifties.

 

Venkatesh Iyer

Venkatesh Iyer

Venkatesh Iyer was instrumental in KKR's sensational turnaround in the second leg of IPL 2021 in the UAE.

KKR, who were reeling in seventh position in the table after the first leg in India, won seven of their nine matches in the UAE to storm into the final.

Venky powered KKR with quickfire starts with the bat, hitting four half-centuries in 10 matches for a total of 370 runs.

His impressive performances caught the national selectors' attention and he was asked to stay back in the UAE to help the Indian team with their preparations for the T20 World Cup.

 

K L Rahul

KL Rahul

K L Rahul was the most consistent batsman in IPL 2021 with 626 runs in 13 matches, at a strike rate of 138, but Punjab Kings still failed to make the play-offs.

The extra burden of captaincy didn't seem to affect the right-hander as he hit six fifties, but his team failed to live up to his high standards.

 

Glenn Maxwell

Glenn Maxwell

After failing to live up to expectations in recent years, Glenn Maxwell finally showed what he is capable of.

The Australian's attacking batting in the middle overs added an edge to the power-packed RCB batting line-up. He smashed his way to 513 runs, with six fifties, at a strike rate of 144 as RCB made it to the play-offs.

 

Rahul Tripathi

Rahul Tripathi

Rahul Tripathi emerged as KKR's hero when his six in the last over against Ravichandran Ashwin took his team to the final.

KKR nearly self-destructed losing six wickets for seven runs against Delhi Capitals in the Qualifier 2 match before Tripathi's six sealed a famous win.

The Punekar played a few important knocks in the middle order, hitting 397 runs at a strike rate of 141.

His injury while fielding in the IPL final against CSK proved to be a major blow for KKR as he was unable to bat.

 

Shardul Thakur

Shardul Thakur

Shardul Thakur did a wonderful job with the ball for CSK.

Mostly bowling in the middle overs and in the death, 'Lord' Thakur was consistent with the ball. He took 21 wickets in 16 games at an economy rate -- the most by a CSK bowler in this IPL.

Thakur's consistent performances with the ball forced the selectors to draft him into the T20 World Cup squad as spinner Axar Patel was sidelined to the reserves.

 

Yuzvendra Chahal

Yuzvendra Chahal

RCB's Yuzvendra Chahal must consider himself unlucky at not being picked for the T20 World Cup.

A fired-up Chahal showed what India will miss with some splendid performances in the IPL, with 18 wickets in 15 games at an economy rate of just over seven.

While he managed just four wickets in the first leg in India earlier this year, Yuzi bounced back strongly in the UAE with 14 wickets from eight matches.

 

Varun Chakravarthy

Varun Chakravarthy

Varun Chakravarthy was the most successful spinner in IPL 2021.

The KKR spinner claimed 18 wickets in 17 games at an economy rate of 6.58 as he played a key role in his team's triumphant campaign.

He proved to be a difficult bowler to get away on the slow pitches in UAE with his clever variations.

 

Harshal Patel

Harshal Patel

Harshal Patel enjoyed a record-breaking season with the ball for RCB.

He claimed as many as 32 wickets in 15 games, to equal Dwayne Bravo's record for the most wickets in an IPL season.

He was RCB's key bowler, especially in the death overs, when his slower balls left even the best batsmen confused.

He started the IPL with a five-wicket haul against the Mumbai Indians on April 9 before taking a hat-trick against the same opponents to help RCB complete a double against the 2020 champions.

 

Avesh Khan

Avesh Khan

Avesh Khan's pace was too to handle for the batsmen in IPL.

The Delhi Capitals fast bowler enjoyed a dream season with 24 wickets in 16 games at an economy rate of 7.37.

Avesh outshone his accomplished South African team-mates Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada with his consistent performances with the ball.

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HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com

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