T20 is a format which is most conducive to the playing style of all-rounders. Although the age-old adage that an all-rounder is someone who should be able to make the team as a specialist batsman or bowler as well still remains, players with ‘a bit of this and a bit of that’ are also in vogue as they add a lot of value to the side.
As far as the IPL is concerned, who do you think are the most coveted players in the cash-rich league – the brawny, explosive batsmen; the big, booming pacers or the impeccable, wily spinners? How about a mocktail of all of them packed together in one team! Here’s presenting the all-rounders XI of IPL 2018, a team with so much firepower that it would be almost impossible to beat.
Shane Watson (c)
One of the few players to have a career batting average over 30 and bowling average under 30, Shane Watson would open the batting for the side. His captaincy experience at Rajasthan Royals would come in handy as he would lead this year’s IPL all-rounders XI.
Following Chris Lynn’s shoulder injury in last year’s IPL, Sunil Narine came out all guns blazing when he was entrusted with the responsibility of opening the batting for Kolkata Knight Riders. If his bowling action is ratified by the West Indian cricket board, Narine’s mystery deliveries would also prove to be a handful for the opposition batsmen.
After a slump in 2015 and 2016, Glen Maxwell was back to his explosive self in last year’s IPL. His recent performances for his national team also show that he has regained form. Maxwell will take guard at No. 3 and would have complete license to go hammer and tongs from the first ball. Given the abundance of bowlers in the XI, his bowling services may not be required but he can always chip in with an over of off-spin.
As soon as Ben Stokes made his return for England after he pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the affray charges, he re-established himself as their match winner. Stokes already has a century to his name in the IPL and can readily step on the gas when needed. His medium pacers are also on-point and difficult to get underneath (discounting his final over in the 2016 T20 World Cup).
As per latest news, Andre Russell is recovering well from his hamstring injury and is all set to make a comeback for the Kolkata Knight Riders after a one year ban. He has served KKR well over the years and the franchise certainly felt his absence in the last season. Russell is an all-rounder in the truest sense of the word as he is as good with the ball as he is with the bat.
Hardik Pandya is a core member of the Mumbai Indians and one of the three players retained by the franchise this year. He has grown tremendously in the past two years and has become an absolute match-winner for the side. Pandya can clear any ground comfortably, especially when is facing the spinners. There has been a marked improvement in his bowling as well which was visible in the limited overs leg against South Africa.
Shakib Al Hasan
Given that Shakib is the No. 1 ranked all-rounder in both ODIs and Tests, he has not been able to live up to the expectations in the IPL. Having recently recovered from injury, the Bangladesh Captain would be raring to prove his mettle for his new franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad. Apart from offering some useful runs lower down the order, he can also open the bowling with his crafty left-arm spin.
South African all-rounder Chris Morris would follow Shakib Al Hasan to the crease. Morris has been a find for Delhi Daredevils, which is why he has been retained by the franchise this year. The bowling all-rounder can use the long handle to good effect and strike the ball cleanly.
Wicket keeper and the tail
Kedar Jadhav (wk)
Kedar Jadhav has been blowing hot and cold recently but his added skill of wicket keeping finds him a place in this year’s all-rounders XI. Jadhav is a street-smart cricket and can come up with some innovative shots in crunch situations. The Malinga-esque bowler has gone to Chennai Super Kings this time around and will play under Dhoni’s captaincy.
It is not often that players like Krunal Pandya find themselves at the tail-end of the batting order, but such is the quality of this team that a player with an IPL batting average of over 35 features at the No. 10 spot. The elder Pandya is a very capable batsman and played a major role in MI’s title victory in 2017. Like Shakib, Krunal is also a left-arm spinner and bowls tight line and lengths.
The senior Bravo returns to the ‘CSK family’, as he likes to call it, this year. His batting potential may have waned over the years but he still remains a useful bowler with his dipping slower ones. Apart from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dwayne Bravo is the only other bowler in IPL history to bag the Purple cap twice.