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IPL 2022: THE TEAM OF THE TOURNAMENT

Presenting an XI from IPL 2022 packed with consistent performers from top to bottom, each of whom helped in matches for their teams.

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The 15th edition of the Indian Premier League ended on Sunday night in Ahmedabad with new entrants Gujarat Titans lifting the trophy in their first season after a seven-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals. After nearly two months of cricketing action, here is this writer’s team of the tournament.

1 JOS BUTTLER (17 innings, 863 runs at 57.74, strike-rate 149.05, 4 100s, 45 sixes)

In 2016, Virat Kohli set the record for most runs in a single IPL season with 973, inclusive of four hundreds. Six years later, with data and examination of opposing players having increased significantly to the extent that several big batsmen were clinically dissected in IPL 2022, Jos Buttler threatened to break Kohli’s mark.

“I can’t remember anyone batting this well in the history of the IPL,” remarked Rajasthan’s director of cricket Kumar Sangakkara after Buttler took his tally of runs to 824 with a record-equalling fourth century (106* off 60 balls) against Royal Challengers Bangalore to propel his team to victory and into the final. Buttler crossed 50 eight times, and though he tailed off in the second half of the league phase with a top score of 30 in five innings, he roared back with scores of 89 and 106* in two playoff matches before struggling in the final versus Gujarat. His 45 sixes are comfortably the most this year.

Jos Buttler IPL 2022 runs
Jos Buttler topped the run table in IPL 2022, with the most sixes. (Image: BCCI)

2 KL RAHUL (15 innings, 616 runs at 51.33, strike-rate 135.38, 2 100s, 30 sixes)

Another 600-plus run IPL for KL Rahul, but another disappointing end for his team. Chosen to lead new franchise Lucknow Super Giants, the 30-year-old reeled off his fifth straight successful season as an opener, while leading the team to the playoffs. Second to Buttler’s run tally, Rahul scored two centuries against Mumbai Indians and formed one half of the tournament’s most successful opening pair alongside Quinton de Kock. Critics of his strike-rate in the IPL found more fodder, but when you score 616 runs at 51.33 you’ve done something good, so Rahul was a no-brainer as opener given the four overseas player cap to selection.

3 DEEPAK HOODA (14 innings, 451 runs at 32.21, strike-rate 136.66, 4 50s, 18 sixes)

Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Rahul Tripathi was the most successful batsman at one-down this season, and with a strike-rate 20% higher, but I went for Deepak Hooda because of what he offered a Lucknow franchise too dependent on their top three of Rahul, de Kock and him. Hooda’s most successful IPL campaign was down to his flexibility –  he was batted everywhere from No 3 to No 6 – and his striking capability. Tripathi had to shore up the regular failures of Kane Williamson, but in Aiden Markram and Nicholas Pooran he had support in the middle order. Hooda had far less to work with due to LSG’s fumbling, misfiring and constantly changing middle order, and the way he grabbed the No 3 position after several others had been tried and failed spoke of his approach for the team.

Hardik Pandya IPL final
Hardik Pandya saved his best bowling for the IPL final. (Image: BCCI)

4 HARDIK PANDYA (15 innings, 487 runs at 44.27, strike-rate 131.26, 4 50s, eight wickets)

A lot was expected from Hardik Pandya, given his stature as an allrounder in Indian cricket and because he was captain of a new franchise. He had not played for India since the 2021 T20 World Cup and how he would handle the captaincy, as well as how much he would bowl in another World Cup year, was the subject of speculation.

What played out was perhaps the defining individual story of IPL 2022, which translated to Gujarat’s stunning run to the playoffs and then the trophy in their maiden season. Liberated from the Mumbai Indians franchise where he was played as a finisher, Pandya batted at Nos 3 and 4 for Gujarat and thrived as leader. His 487 runs at 44.3 with four fifties put him fourth on the table, and Pandya saved his best for last with undeniably one of the most dominant all-round efforts in an IPL final.

He took 3/17 with his brisk fast-medium and then eased a straightforward chase after two quick wickets with 34 from 30 balls. Those are Pandya’s best figures in the IPL and took him to 50 wickets in the competition.

5 DAVID MILLER (16 innings, 481 runs at 68.71, strike-rate 142.72, 2 50s, 23 sixes)

The finisher of the tournament, arguably, given the amount of high-impact innings he played. The sight of David Miller repeatedly thumping deliveries over extra cover and cow corner will remain etched in the minds of Gujarat supporters, and when you look back at the franchise’s stunning run in their debut season, the South Africa was indeed a titanic figure.

Miller had not clicked in the IPL for several seasons, and since his 38-ball hundred back in 2013 had increasingly lost his striking ability, so when Gujarat added him to their roster for Rs 3 crore there was little buzz. But backed to the hilt by the coaching staff and Pandya, Miller thrived and delivered his most successful IPL season ever. Along with Rahul Tewatia, discarded by RR before the auction, Miller set the tournament alive with his finishing touches. His unbeaten 94 off 51 balls to steal victory from Chennai Super Kings was arguably the innings of the season, and then in Qualifier 1 he delivered a resounding 68*off 38 deliveries. In the final, fittingly, Miller was there at the end with 32*.

6 ANDRE RUSSELL (12 innings, 335 runs at 37.22, strike-rate 174.47, 32 sixes, 17 wickets)

Another strong season from Andre Russell, who stood up for a fumbling Kolkata Knight Riders. You cannot write of a player of Russell’s skill, and once again the allrounder was impactful with bat and ball. His 32 sixes were third best of all batsman and a strike-rate of 174.47 when batting in the lower middle order was unreal, even if his hitting skills have somewhat diminished.

With the ball, Russell bowled fewer overs than he usually does for KKR, but look at that strike-rate of 9.9. This included a dramatic four-wicket over, which proved his only over of the match versus Gujarat during the league stage. As far as high-impact performances go, Russell was KKR’s best.

Dinesh Karthik IPL 2022 stats
Dinesh Karthik was virtually unstoppable in IPL 2022. (Image: BCCI/IPL)

7 DINESH KARTHIK (16 innings, 330 runs at 55, strike-rate 183.33, 22 sixes, 12 dismissals)

At 36, Dinesh Karthik entered IPL 2022 with a mission: to prove that he still had a role to play for the Indian cricket team. In 2021, Karthik had contemplated retiring to take up commentary, but luckily for RCB he didn’t take that decision. In an underwhelming lineup, Karthik emerged as a devastating hitter at the back end of innings and his strike-rate of 220 at the death is among the best of the season. He kept finishing matches, kept finding the boundaries, kept standing up for RCB and this resulted in another call-up by the BCCI selectors, with an eye on this year’s T20 World Cup.

8 WANINDU HASARANGA (16 matches, 26 wickets at 16.53, economy 7.54, strike-rate 13.1)

After getting only two matches in IPL 2021, the Sri Lankan all-sorts spinner Wanindu Hasaranga was bought back by RCB for a whopping Rs 10.75 crore. That raised eyebrows alright, but at the end of RCB’s campaign there stood Hasaranga with the most wickets for a bowler this season. He ended up second on the Purple Cap table as it panned out following RCB’s elimination, losing to the legspinner whom the franchise let go before the auction.

For the team that took the most wickets during the middle overs, Hasaranga was a massive source of wickets. He varied his pace and lengths to keep on flummoxing batsmen and his strike-rate of 13.1 is the best by a spinner and fourth best for bowlers to have sent down at least 15 overs.

9 MOHAMMED SHAMI (16 matches, 20 wickets at 24.40, economy 8, strike-rate 18.30)

Took a wicket off his first ball of IPL 2022 and with his last, in a season in which he claimed the  most wickets for champions Gujarat, and his 20 wickets account for Mohammed Shami’s best personal IPL season. Of those 20 wickets, 17 accounted for top six batsmen and 11 came during the Powerplay overs, which speaks of Shami’s impact. Clearly thriving in a new setup, Shami hustled in and found pace and movement to get big wickets on a consistent basis.

Umran Malik IPL 2022
Umran Malik lit up IPL 2022 with his pace and bounce. (Image: BCCI)

10 UMRAN MALIK (14 matches, 22 wickets 20.18, economy 9.03, strike-rate 13.4)

In an IPL season dominated by Indian fast bowlers – 11 home quicks claimed at least 15 wickets, the most for a single edition – the name Umran Malik resounded. Retained by SRH alongside Williamson and Abdul Samad, the strapping pace bowler regularly clocked speed in excess of 153kph and had fans of Indian cricket calling for his addition to India’s T20I squad. That happened in due course, after Umran kept taking wickets for SRH – 22, in fact, at an average of 20.18 and strike-rate of 13.4.

He often conceded runs, but that is expected from a rare bowler of his speed. And among bowlers at the death, Umran was right up there with the best and most potent. His two most memorable performances came against Punjab Kings, when Umran finished with a triple-wicket maiden 20th over and figures of 4/28, and taking all five Gujarat wickets to fall in a narrow defeat. The find of IPL 2022, hands down.

11 YUZVENDRA CHAHAL (17 matches, 26 wickets at 19.51, economy 7.75, strike-rate 15.1)

A bowler with a point to prove to RCB and India’s selectors, Yuzvendra Chahal walked away from IPL 2022 with the Purple Cap for most wickets. This season saw wrist-spinners flourish and dominate, and there was none more successful than Chahal who emerged as a strike force for Rajasthan after RCB did not retain him.

His ability to take wickets in the middle overs and at the backend of innings helped RR stay in the top four, even though Chahal’s form tapered off in the final two weeks and resulted in two wicketless playoff matches. His strike-rate of 15.1 was among the lowest, and who can forget his five-wicket haul versus KKR which included an unprecedented four-wicket over, including a hat-trick, to pull the rug from under their feet?

 

Written by Jamie Alter

Sports writer, author, actor, anchor, digital content creator and TedX Talks speaker.

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