Saha, Mohit in ESPNcricinfo IPL XI
ESPNcricinfo picks its team of the 2014 season, with a limit of only four foreign players in the XI.
Picking the tournament XI is among the most anticipated activities at ESPNcricinfo the end of a long tournament, and IPL 2014 was no different. Fourteen members of ESPNcricinfo's editorial team who watched the tournament closely sent in their votes, and after the numbers were tallied, we ended up with a well-balanced and dynamic XI that ticks all the boxes, even if it has more wicketkeepers than it needs.
Several names were automatic picks - a reflection of a season where some players were consistent and impactful right through the tournament. Robin Uthappa and Sunil Narine were unanimous picks. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Suresh Raina came next, dropping just one vote each. So did Glenn Maxwell, whose slump in the latter half of the tournament would seem to have not impacted his popularity. Akshar Patel and Mohit Sharma were shoo-ins as well, with 12 votes each out of a possible 14. Wriddhiman Saha (9 votes), who capped an outstanding tournament with a century in the final was another straightforward choice in the middle order.
The last remaining specialist bowling spot went to Lasith Malinga (6 votes), who was predictably effective for Mumbai until his departure for England. That left one more overseas slot to fill. David Warner (6 votes) beat competition from Dwayne Smith and Lendl Simmons to make the grade as an opener.
One spot remained, and that selection proved to be the most contentious. The side needed a finisher and it had to be an Indian player, which ruled out JP Duminy and Kieron Pollard, both of whom had only one vote each in any case. It came down to Delhi Daredevils' Kedar Jadhav and one of the usual suspects in IPL XIs - MS Dhoni. The spot eventually went to Dhoni (4 votes), whose ability to finish off games without a fuss helped Super Kings in their march to the play-offs. Dhoni's selection gave the team it's third wicketkeeper, but more importantly, gave it a captain.
Shakib Al Hasan is the twelfth man, and a good choice since he fields well and can replace a batsman or a bowler as required. If team balance wasn't a criterion, he would have made the starting XI. The most notable miss was David Miller, who made a strong case for a fifth overseas spot. Harbhajan Singh and Virender Sehwag, who both showed signs of a second wind during the tournament, missed out narrowly as well, as did Sandeep Sharma.
The team has six batsmen, one spinning allrounder, three seam bowlers and a mystery spinner.
Team of the tournament
1. Robin Uthappa (Knight Riders) - 660 runs, average 44, strike-rate 138
2. David Warner (Sunrisers) - 528 runs, average 48, strike rate 141
3. Suresh Raina (Super Kings) - 523 runs, average 40, strike rate 146
4. Wriddhiman Saha (Kings XI) - 362 runs, average 33, strike rate 145
5. Glenn Maxwell (Kings XI) - 552 runs, average 35, strike rate 188
6. MS Dhoni (Super Kings) - 371 runs, average 74, strike rate 148
7. Akshar Patel (Kings XI) - 17 wickets, average 24, economy rate 6.13
8. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Sunrisers) - 20 wickets, average 18, economy rate 6.65
9. Mohit Sharma (Super Kings) - 23 wickets, average 20, economy rate 8.39
10. Lasith Malinga (Mumbai Indians) - 16 wickets, average 16, economy rate 6.45
11. Sunil Narine (Knight Riders) - 21 wickets, average 19, economy rate 6.35
12th Man: Shakib Al Hasan (Knight Riders) - 227 runs, average 30, strike rate 149; 11 wickets, average 30, economy rate 6.68