Picking XIs isn't easy, but here is an attempt to draft up the best line-up of IPL 6 keeping in mind form, contributions, team permutations and the four overseas player cap. Agree or disagree?
1. Michael Hussey - M 17, Runs 733, HS 95, Avg 52.35, SR 129.50Cricket's Mr Consistent starts our XI due to the sheer volume of runs he made in IPL 6 and the impact those had on CSK winning the title. Hussey was a rock in 2013, whether setting up strong totals or chasing targets. And, most crucially, he went about his business consistently and with an efficiency that left opposing teams frustrated and defeated. His best match-winning hand include: 86* against KXIP, 88 against RR, 95 against KKR, 67 against SH and 86* against MI in the first Qualifier. These were innings constructed with precision and packed with power. Even when he took his time to get started, Hussey made up for it with some sublime innings - giving him a healthy tournament strike-rate of 129.50.
2. Chris Gayle - M 16, Runs 708, HS 175*, Avg 59, SR 156.29
Though Royal Challengers Bangalore failed to make the playoffs, Gayle once again made the IPL his playground with some ferocious batting, the highlight of which was record-breaking 175* off 66 balls that flattened Pune Warriors. He was not as consistent as in 2012, but still crossed 700 runs at a superb strike-rate and average. Apart from that blitzkrieg against Pune, Gayle lifted RCB to victories with 92* off 58 balls against MI, 85* off 50 against KKR. He also displayed restraint too, scoring 49* in RCB's seven-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals. Not surprisingly, no one hit more than Gayle's 51 sixes (the next best was 28).
3. Suresh Raina - M 18, Runs 548, HS 100*, Avg 42.15, SR 150.13
Slotting in as our preferred No. 3 is Suresh Raina, who was again impossible to ignore in the IPL. He started poorly, failing to score a fifty in his first five innings, but once he made 51 against Rajasthan there was no looking back. Raina followed up with scores of 16, 44, 63*, 100*, 0 99* - with CSK winning five of those six matches - and then after a brief dip in form roared back with a stroke-filled 82* in the first Qualifier. The century against KXIP was Raina's 100*, Avg 42.15, SR 150.13
Slotting in as our preferred No. 3 is Suresh Raina, who was again impossible to ignore in the IPL. He started poorly, failing to score a fifty in his first five innings, but once he made 51 against Rajasthan there was no looking back. Raina followed up with scores of 16, 44, 63*, 100*, 0 99* - with CSK winning five of those six matches - and then after a brief dip in form roared back with a stroke-filled 82* in the first Qualifier. The century against KXIP was Raina's first in the IPL, and much overdue. As usual, he scored at a fast clip and gathered his runs coolly, with those trademark inside-out drives and heaves over midwicket being displayed in plenty. And of course, his fielding was outstanding.
4. Virat Kohli - M 16, Runs 634, HS 99, Avg 45.28, SR 138.73
RCB captain Virat Kohli bounced back from an average 2012 season with a strong IPL 6, crossing 600 runs - third behind Hussey and Gayle - and regularly lifting his team from the No. 3 spot. His 58-ball 99 against Delhi Daredevils and 43-ball 93 not out against Sunrisers Hyderabad were excellent innings, and overall his innings were laced with crispness and authority and his runs gathered with a lovely blend of the orthodox and the audacious. Having failed to cross 80 in any Twenty20 match prior to 2013, Kohli pocketed two innings in the nineties. In our XI, Kohli slots in one place down from where he usually batted.
5. Rohit Sharma - M 19, Runs 538, HS 79*, Avg 38.42, SR 131.54
That Mumbai made the final owed a lot to how Rohit Sharma captained - initially as a one-off option, then full-time once Ricky Ponting stepped down - and batted. His 543 runs were the highest for the team and sixth in the league and his 28 sixes were second-best to Gayle's haul. His four half-centuries - his best innings was an unbeaten 79 off 39 balls, including six sixes, that set up victory over KXIP - came in the first three weeks of the tournament, but though he failed to reproduce such batting heroics Rohit remake a crucial figure in the middle order. He top-scored with 39* off 30 balls in the rout of CSK and 37 off 41 balls as he steered Mumbai home against Pune; and unbeaten 20 off 15 held up one end while Kieron Pollard stunned Sunrisers Hyderabad.
6. MS Dhoni (capt/wk) - M 18, Runs 461, HS 67*, Avg 41.90, SR 162.89
CSK's captain cool, MS Dhoni finished his team's third-highest run-scorer. With the toughest job in the league, Dhoni again led with aplomb and played some outstanding innings from the middle order. His striking was on par with Gayle's and no team was certain of victory - bar the final - until they had seen Dhoni's back. For his reputation as one of the league's best finishers, his smart wicketkeeping and astute leadership, Dhoni is our captain-wicketkeeper.
7. Dwayne Bravo - M 18, Wkts 32, BB 4/42, Avg 15.53, SR 11.7
The West Indian allrounder finished IPL 6 as the leading wicket-taker with 32, the last four of which came in the final to go past Rajasthan's James Faulkner. Those strikes were crucial to CSK keeping Mumbai to 148, but unfortunately CSK's batsmen failed to fire. Though his economy rate of 7.95 was on the higher side, Bravo's ability to strike consistently at the death was a big factor in CSK's success. He didn't do much with the bat - his best was 23* and he averaged 15 - but when he did get a chance Bravo scored runs at a good clip. His fielding, as always, was excellent and he added a bit of pizazz with his hip-swaying dance moves. This was Bravo's best IPL season and he got our vote as the designated allrounder ahead of Shane Watson for his success with the ball.
Harbhajan Singh - M 19, Wkts 24, BB 3/14, Avg 19, Econ 6.51, SR 17.5
After an awful IPL 5, Harbhajan Singh needed a strong 2013 season and he delivered just that. He finished as the third-highest wicket-taker and was always a threat to opposing batsmen. He varied his line and length well, as opposed to merely firing in the ball, and picked up big wickets. He saved his best for the play-offs, picking up the Man-of-the-Match award in the second Qualifier with 3 for 23 and then rose to the occasion in the final against CSK, taking 2 for 14 in three overs. A major player in Mumbai's run to their first IPL trophy, Harbhajan was the best spinner in the league.
9. James Faulkner - M 16, Wkts 28, BB 5/16, Avg 15.25, Econ 6.75, SR 13.5
Faulkner, in his first season of IPL, was the pillar of Rajasthan's bowling and finished as the second-highest wicket-taker in the entire tournament with 28, the joint highest in any season along with Lasith Malinga's 2011 returns. Sharp, incisive and accurate, he gave teams a handful especially at the death and his in and out-fielding was superb. Faulkner took five-wicket hauls in the season - the only bowler to do so in the IPL - both against Hyderbad: an excellent 5 for 20 and 5 for 16. The 22-year-old Australian went wicketless just twice and took at least three wickets on three occasions. Purchased for $400,000 in the 2013 auction, Faulkner proved to be an excellent return on investment.
10. Amit Mishra - M 17, Wkts 21, BB 4/19, Avg 18.76, Econ 6.35, SR 17.7
Amit Mishra was Hyderabad's most consistent bowler and the seventh-highest wicket-taker with 21 scalps. Who can forget his 4 for 19 against Pune, which included a stunning hat-trick? This season Mishra become the first bowler to achieve the distinction of taking three hat-tricks in the IPL, courtesy a stunning penultimate over against Pune in which he dismissed four players to clinch an 11-run win for his team. Mishra's hat-trick came after he removed Pune captain Angelo Mathews off the first delivery of the 19th over with Hyderabad defending 14 runs off 12 balls. Mishra was always a threat when he came on to bowl and remained Hyderabad's first choice for wickets once Dale Steyn had started out with fiery pace. His success as a leg spinner in a format favouring batsmen forced Mishra's inclusion as the second spinner after Harbhajan.
11. Mohit Sharma - M 15, Wkts 20, BB 3/10, Avg 16.30, Econ 6.43, SR 15.2
Unknown to those outside the domestic cricket scene, Haryana pace bowler Mohit Sharma made himself known to the IPL audience with 20 wickets in the season, taking the new ball for CSK and striking consistently at the top. He had an excellent second game against Delhi in which finished with 3 for 10 in three overs as CSK hammered the home team by 86 runs, and carried that form throughout the tournament. The 24-year-old remained Dhoni's preferred bowler inside the Powerplays and successfully delivered blows with the new ball. For a transfer made almost anonymously during the off-season, Mohit Sharma finished the IPL as one of the success stories.
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