CB XI – team of IPL 2018
[555 runs and 8 wickets]
The retired Aussie was an embodiment of CSK’s success and played a big role in leaving most critics of the team and their average age, egg-faced. A superlative batting effort in the final – going from 0 off 10 balls to 117 off 57 balls – was Watson’s second century of the season, taking him to fifth spot in the batting charts. Two very ordinary seasons with Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2016 and 2017 didn’t deter CSK from shelling out INR 4 Crore, which the soon-to-be 37-year-old comfortably repaid, perhaps with a bit of interest.
Sunil Narine [357 runs and 17 wickets]
The West Indian brought immaculate allround skills for KKR in a season they needed it the most. With a depleted squad owing to Mitchell Starc’s absence and the infusion of a lot of inexperienced youth, KKR needed their handful of seniors to make it count. There was a lot of talk of opposition teams ‘finding him out’ and nullifying his skills as an opener with express pace and bounce. But Narine finished the season with 357 runs at a strike rate of 189.89 – the best among batsmen with 300-plus runs. Narine also managed his best season since 2014 with the ball, picking 17 wickets in 16 outings, despite not matching his previous standards with respect to economy rate [IPL career economy – 6.53, IPL 2018 economy – 7.65].
KL Rahul [659 runs]
In a riveting season with the bat, KL Rahul ensured his newest employers – Kings XI Punjab – got their money’s worth as he grabbed the opportunity to justify the 11 crore they paid for him. Rahul began the season with the fastest IPL fifty – off 14 balls against Delhi Daredevils – and only kept improving. He played a major role in KXIP winning five of their first six fixtures, and also showed admirable temperament in tough situations. His best of an unbeaten 95 came in a game [against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur] where the next best contribution in KXIP’s line-up was 11 from Marcus Stoinis. His team faltered after soaring high in the first half of the tournament and didn’t make the playoffs, but Rahul finished the season as the third-highest scorer, and with a return to India’s ODI setup.
Kane Williamson [735 runs]
SRH brought back Kane Williamson to their squad via the player auction, but not even they could’ve anticipated the sort of impact he had on the team’s IPL 2018 campaign. In the absence of their suspended captain – and the most important batting resource – David Warner, Williamson quashed a lot of pre-tournament predictions that he would fall way short in the quest to fill the big boots of the Australian. He didn’t just show astute leadership but also complemented it with 735 runs, including eight half-centuries, through the season that was instrumental in giving SRH their second IPL final appearance.
In another season full of misery for Delhi Daredevils, their swashbuckling wicketkeeper-batsman emerged as a rare positive. Even as DD finished at the bottom of the table, Pant prised away the emerging player award for his all-season brutality with the bat that earned him 684 runs at a staggering strike rate of 173.60, and the holder of most sixes this season . His excellent IPL 2018 also included a 63-ball 128 against SRH, laced with 15 fours and seven sixes, and five exceptional half-centuries – 85 off 48, 79 off 45, 69 off 29, 61 off 34 and 64 off 44. But only two out of those six games were converted into wins for DD.
MS Dhoni [455 runs]
The CSK captain picked his team’s much-anticipated return to the IPL fold as the season to unleash his best batting version. Dhoni accumulated in excess of 400 runs in a season for the first time in 11 years, and got them at a fantastic strike rate of 150. The Dhoni highlights reel from IPL 2018 included a sensational, unbeaten 79 in a defeat to KXIP, a 22-ball 51 against Delhi Daredevils in a win, and the best of the lot – 70 off 34 balls in an unbelievable victory against RCB at the Chinnaswamy stadium where CSK smashed 72 off the last 4.4 overs. There were several other cameos to go with an IPL stumping record [33 in 175 games] and his fantastic leadership that took CSK to their seventh final in nine appearances, and earned them a third title.
Dinesh Karthik [498 runs]
The newly appointed KKR captain had a stellar season for his franchise, compiling 498 runs at an impressive average of 49.8 and at a strike rate of 147.77. He also topped the batting charts for KKR. His consistency can be capsulised by the fact that he notched up six 30 plus during the course of the season. Moreover, he displayed sound glovework behind the stumps, effecting 18 dismissals. He will take up the role as one of the finishers in the side.
The Afghanistan teenage sensation was the engine room of SRH’s impressive run to the final of IPL 2018. He befuddled the batsmen with his mix of googlies that turned appreciably and legspinners to bag 21 scalps at an average of just over 21. He also bowled with terrific control, evidenced by his economy rate of 6.73. It wasn’t just with the ball that he made an impression but also gave a glimpse of his skills with the bat and in the field. The 19-year-old provided the impetus in SRH’s crucial game versus KKR in Qualifier 2 by crunching a powerful 10-ball 34. In the same match, he produced a game-changing spell of 3 for 19, grabbed two catches as well as playing a part in the run out of Nitish Rana.
Siddarth Kaul [21 wickets]
The energetic Punjab-born pacer was one of the mainstays of SRH’s redoubtable bowling line-up. The 28-year-old ended the season with 21 wickets at an average of 26.04. One of the highlights of Kaul’s show in the tournament was his spell of 3 for 23 versus MI at the Wankhede stadium, which in turn helped SRH defend a modest target of 119. His noteworthy spell ensured the Hyderabad franchise was able to knock over the lower order of MI.
Andrew Tye [24 wickets]
Tye, the Australian quick, bowled with guile and control to pick up a rich haul of 24 wickets at an average of 18.66 to walk away with the Purple Cap. However, despite his splendid show in the tournament, KXIP could end up only seventh on the points table. His best performance of 4 for 16 in KXIP’s penultimate game of the season against MI went in vain as the visitors slipped to a gut-wrenching three-run loss. His four-wicket haul versus MI ensured that he would become the first bowler in IPL’s history to pick up three four-wicket hauls in a single season.
Umesh Yadav [20 wickets]
RCB’s tearaway quick, Umesh Yadav, will round off the IPL XI. He was one of the few bowlers who excelled for RCB, finishing as the fourth highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 20 scalps. The India fast bowler blended swing and a good burst of pace to trouble the opposition ranks, especially in the powerplays. His best spell for the season turned out to be 3 for 23 versus Kings XI Punjab, where he beat Yuvraj Singh’s defence with a quick delivery that was angled in from round the wicket to uproot the stumps.