The 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is all set to get underway on April 9. The T20 league returns to India after being held in the UAE last year. However, the tournament will continue to be played behind doors, at a few select locations in the country, as the threat of Coronavirus persists. Every year, the tournament sees smashing performances from players of different franchises. As a build-up to IPL 2021, we bring you the best-combined XI from players who will take part in the edition.
Openers: Rohit Sharma (captain) Shikhar Dhawan
Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma will lead the combined XI of IPL 2021. He will also open the innings along with his Team India mate Shikhar Dhawan. Although David Warner was also a strong contender, he narrowly missed out due to the cap of four on foreign players.
Rohit Sharma has been excellent for Mumbai at the top of the innings. He has over 5000 IPL runs to his credit and has consistently done well for the franchise. He is also the most successful captain in the history of the league.
Dhawan created history in IPL 2020, becoming the first player to smash back-to-back hundreds in the T20 league. He finished the edition with 618 runs in 17 games. The left-hander also holds the record for having hit the most fours in the IPL – 591.
Middle-order: KL Rahul (wk), Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers
KL Rahul, who won the Orange Cap last year, will come in at No. 3 in the combined XI. The Punjab Kings captain amassed 670 runs from 14 games in IPL 2020, looking in supreme touch throughout. He will also keep wickets for the team.
RCB captain Virat Kohli comes in at No. 4. There has hardly been a season where Kohli has performed poorly with the bat. His consistency merits him a place in the middle order. The leading run-scorer in the IPL, Kohli notched up 466 runs in 15 games last season as well.
Any IPL XI is incomplete without the presence of AB de Villiers. The RCB batsman has the ability to win matches for his franchise from impossible situations, with incredible hitting. KKR’s Andre Russell also does the same, but de Villiers’ consistency gives him the edge.
All-rounders: Hardik Pandya, Marcus Stoinis
Hardik Pandya walks into the combined XI on the basis of his proven big-hitting talent in the end overs. His cameos have often ended up proving to be the difference between victory and defeat. Glenn Maxwell has been performing the role for Australia, but has failed in the IPL, which is why he misses out.
There was a close tussle for the second all-rounder’s slot between Marcus Stoinis and Kieron Pollard. The former got the nod because of his versatility with the bat. He can bat anywhere in the order, and can be used as a floater. Also, Pollard hardly bowls these days while Stoinis can chip in with crucial wickets.
Bowlers: Rashid Khan, Kagiso Rabada, T Natarajan, Jasprit Burmah
The spinner’s slot had to go to SRH’s Rashid Khan. The leg-spinner has an excellent record in the IPL. He can stifle the opponents with his variations and also get scalps at pertinent times. He is also a handy lower-order bat.
The fast bowling department will be in the hands of Kagiso Rabada, T Natarajan and Jasprit Burmah. All three are excellent exponents of the yorker. In combination, they can prove to be a handful.
Rabada can unsettle batsmen with the short ball as well, and his speed has caught the best off-guard. Natarajan’s confidence will be on a high after his success in India colours. As for Bumrah, he will look to carry on from where he left off last time, keeping the batsmen on their toes all the time with his immaculate line and length.