We at the Times of India played our favorite game: predicting the Team of the Tournament for IPL 2021. We had a wonderful XI of stars including seven bowlers, a phenomenal batting line-up, and excellent fielders. First, take a look at this article from when the IPL 2021 games were postponed – it’s amazing to see how things have changed. Now here’s the list of players that we chose in the end with votes from our staff, adhering to the rule of four overseas players.
RUTURAJ GAIKWAD (635 runs, age 45.35, SR 136.26, 100, forties)
It’s what Chennai Super Kings got from Gaikwad when they put their faith in a player they have marked for the future, despite previous failures. He might not have been installed at the top of the order after starting with 0, 5 and 0 (last year), but he gave them an Orange Cap-winning 635 runs this year, and starred in their run for the title.
Faf du Plessis
Faf du Plessis (633 runs at an average of 45.21, strike rate 138.20 and six fifties)
For the majority of IPL teams, one high-performing opening batsman is usually enough, but the Super Kings team had two high-performing openers this year. Du Plessis was just two runs behind Gaikwad in the Orange Cap race. On the surface, he may have looked like the lesser-important player on the field, but du Plessis proved himself time and time again, his vast experience coming to the forefront at pivotal moments in the game. He really showed it all in the final, scoring 86 runs of 59 balls in what would turn out to be his last innings of the game, leading Super Kings to victory.
Venkatesh Iyer (370 runs, average 41.11, strike rate 128.47, four half-centuries; three wickets, average 8.11)
Every big story needs supporting features and the best of these from this year’s IPL, at least in the minds of some, were called Venkatesh Iyer. He opened the innings for Knight Riders following the suspension. Few had heard of him before. Not anymore. Not after he was involved in turning their season around. Although he can often come down with the flu, and has some regrettable quips and methodologies, it is nevertheless worth noting that he has exceptional athleticism and is a wonderful asset to the team.
Glenn Maxwell (513 runs, 42.75 average, 144.10 strike rate, six fifties; three wickets, 8.43 ERA)
Though it always seemed to be a question of when, not if, Maxwell would shine in the IPL, he was beset by series of low batting performances over the years. Royal Challengers Bangalore came to Maxwell’s rescue this year, batting him at number four. Clearly the right decision to make- look at the stats! In the first leg he had already been performing well, but a set of figures of 56, 50*, 57, 40 and 51* in the UAE raised his stock by a little.
Sanju Samson (484 runs, 40.33 batting average, 136.72 strike rate, one hundred, two fifties)
Sam’s temper tantrums have landed him in many a hot water, till he decided to stop the poor game play. During the first stage of the tournament, Sam smashed century against Punjab Kings (in a loss), but following a string of poor performances, he ended the first leg with a meager batting average of 42, 42, and 48. In part II, Rajasthan Royals underperformed, but Samson did stay consistent. A few notable highlights include scoring a 70* in a loss against Delhi Capitals, as well as a brief, score of 82* in a loss against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
He had 242 runs this season, averaging 34.57, with a strike rate of 168.05 and just one fifty.
He didn’t play his best today, but there were signs that he can be a finishing or late-inning hitter. When he was on, he produced the big hits with no problem. Even though he is only involved in designing stage layout, he is one of the best.
Ravindra Jadeja (227 runs, ave 75.66, SR 145.51, one fifty; 13 wickets, ave 26.61, ER 7.06)
Having a batting average of 75.66 and a strike out rate of 7.06 with the ball makes him one of the most valuable players on his team… not to mention what he contributes in the outfield. The best in the business, he is a must in the XI.
Westendies left-arm spin bowler Sunil Narine (16 wickets, average 22.56, ER 6.44; 62 runs, average 7.75, SR 131.91)
Narine, as of late, is not the bowler he once was, nor is he the pinch-hitter he once was, but Narine has changed his game by switching his stance, as well as his mindset, and although he is no longer one of the more lethal bowlers in the league, he can occasionally dominate bowlers late in the game, and also produce something eye-catching on occasion, like against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the eliminator. In my match, I had wickets of Kohli, De Villiers, and Maxwell; I tricked all three of them into failing and then, after being set with my 15-ball 26, 18 of my runs came off my first three balls.
This is Harshal Patel, who has 32 wickets at an average of 14.34 and has an impressive bowling average of 8.14. He is the teams best with a best bowling figure of 5-27.
In the final over of the tournament, Narine swung and missed the first ball, off Harshal’s famed slower ball. When Padikkal picked up the ball, he missed it. Though he didn’t end with 33 wickets this season, he has a record-breaking track record for 30-year-old bowlers, so next season he’ll have something to really fight for. So it sounds ridiculous to say that someone who has been playing in the IPL since 2012 had a breakthrough year, but Harshal did, didn’t he?
Varun Chakravarthy (18 wickets, 24.88 average, 6.58 economy rate, 3-13 best)
It was very difficult to remove Chakravarthy, not even through the IPL, for the second IPL in a row, in fact, and with Narine, he formed a sensational partnership in the middle overs, slowing down the batting order and setting Knight Riders up for one unlikely win after another. Chakravarthy obtained wickets on a fairly regular basis, but his great achievement was more so in the economic department.
Avesh Khan (24 wickets, 18.75 average, 7.37 ER, 3-13 best)
In this standout season, Avesh had his best results ever. Coming up behind Harshal in the charts of leading wicket-takers, it was almost as if Avesh would always get a wicket whenever he came on to bowl. Though still uncapped at the international level, Avesh has had a lot of improvement recently, still crashing the ground as he always did, but now with more control and at what pace. He can hit speeds of 140kph, but also has a variety of slower deliveries and can bowl during the power play and at the death.