The Indian Premier League (IPL) has proved to be a great platform for the Indian players to hog the limelight. With every new season of the T20 carnival, we witness a plethora of youngsters shining on the big stage and making a name for themselves. Yet with all the grandeur and excitement, we miss the stalwarts of the game who once ruled the stage which has now become a stepping stone for the young generation.
Today we remember our childhood heroes who laid the cornerstone for the IPL in its early days. And gave us numerous memories of the shortest format in its early days. In a bid to remember the former greats of the game, we present to you the all-time best retired IPL XI.
Gautam Gambhir (C)
Former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir was one of the crucial members of the Indian team that lifted the T20 World Cup in 2007 and the 50-over World Cup in 2011. t wasn’t before he started playing for Kolkata Knight Riders in 2011 that Gambhir was beginning to cement his legacy as one of the successful captains in the IPL. In the 2011 season, the KKR made it to the top four for the first time under Gambhir’s captaincy. In the subsequent season, the left-handed batsman catapulted the Knight Riders to their first title. Having lifted two titles as the KKR captain, Gambhir scored 4217 runs in 154 games.
Though Virender Sehwag never won the IPL, he always proved to be a match-winner for his side. His blitzkrieg in the powerplay overs provided his team with a solid start at the top. He is one of the few Indian players to have played over 100 matches and still have a strike rate of 150+ in the IPL. Sehwag had recorded 2 centuries and 16 half-centuries in his IPL career. The Sultan of Multan even struck 334 fours and 106 sixes. He had a poor end to his IPL career as he was only able to score 99 runs in his final 8 matches.
Despite playing just one T20 International, batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar took to this format well. Tendulkar scored 2,334 runs in the IPL including a century for Mumbai Indians against the Kochi Tuskers in 2011. Boasting a strike rate of 138.39 in the tournament, the former Indian skipper will be completing the top order of the retired XI. Tendulkar even led MI to their first finals before lifting the trophy 2013.
Mahela Jayawardene takes the first of the 4 spots for foreign players of this retired XI. Jayawardene played for 3 franchises in IPL career namely Kings XI Punjab, Kochi Tuskers Kerala and Delhi. Jayawardene, who is the current coach of Mumbai Indians was a great batsman in his prime. In his IPL career, he played 80 matches and aggregated 1,802 runs at an average of 28.60. Apart from being a good middle-order batsman, Jayawardene was also a phenomenal fielder. His best IPL season was 2010 one where he scored 439 runs and even recorded his only IPL ton. Jayawardene batted with a strike rate of 147.31 in that season.
Adam Gilchrist (WK)
Australia legend Adam Gilchrist will be donning the gloves in the retired XI. Having a player like Gilchrist in the squad is always an advantage because of his unmatchable wicketkeeping skills as well as power-hitting. The southpaw has scored 2069 runs in the IPL with a remarkable strike rate of 138. He has 2 tons to his name. While he is renowned for his skills as an opener, the flamboyant batter will be providing the much-needed firepower down the order in the retired XI.
Coming to all-rounders, it was a no brainer to pick the South African Jacques Kallis. The star performer was able to replicate his international heroics in the IPL as he boasts of a strike rate of 108.74 with the bat and an impressive economy of 7.85 with the ball. Kallis proved to be a key performer for his side in the league with 2222 runs under his belt in 98 matches. The Protea all-rounder was a handy bowler too as he finished his IPL career in 2014 with 65 wickets. Kallis provides a much-needed balance to the side with his all-round abilities.
Many would be surprised to see the name of Pragyan Ojha in this team. Ojha makes the cut on the back of a decent economy of 7.36. The left-arm spinner even has 89 wickets in 92 games at a good average of 26.20. Although Ojha never was able to cement his place in the Indian side, he was remarkably consistent in the IPL. He even went on to bag the purple cap in IPL 2010 for his 21 wickets that season. Moreover, Ojha is the perfect candidate for the left-arm, right-arm spin attack.
Former India coach Anil Kumble will be heading the spin department of the star-studded side. Although the leg spinner played only three seasons of the IPL, he was fabulously barring the innaugural season. Kumble boasts of 45 wickets in 42 games with a fantastic economy of 6.57 and an average of 23.51. The leggie’s three four-wicket hauls and one five-wicket haul are definitely his best selling points. But Kumble’s cricketing brain is yet another reason for him being in the side. Kumble led the Royal Challengers Bangalore to the final only to finish second best.
Left-arm quick RP Singh broke onto the international scene bowling some phenomenal inswingers during the 2007 ICC World Twenty20. His impressive performance in the tournament saw Deccan Chargers snap him up in the opening leg of the IPL. Although Singh was never able to cement his place in the national side, he excelled in the IPL. The pacer took 90 wickets in 82 IPL fixtures at a strike rate of below 20 bagging the purple cap in 2009. Although his performances saw a gradual dip as the tournament went on his ability with the new ball is hard to let go.
One of India’s greatest fast bowler Zaheer Khan doesn’t need an introduction. The left-arm quick was renowned for his ability to swing the ball. And his experience saw him excel in IPL. Having played 100 games in the tournament, Zaheer scalped 102 wickets at an impressive economy rate of 7.59. His best IPL season came in the year 2012, where he scalped 17 wickets in 16 games. Zaheer was the only player to feature in the 1st and the 500th match of the IPL. He will be spearheading the pace battery of the XI with his lethal bowling skills.
As the only right-arm quick of the XI, Laxmipati Balaji completes the all-time great team. The lanky quick had a decent IPL career where he bagged 76 wickets in 73 games including a hattrick. Balaji’s death bowling makes him a great asset to the side with his strike rate of 19.91 and average of 26.68. In the seven seasons he played in the cash-rich leagues, the Tamil Nadu quick managed to lift the IPL title twice as he twice finished as the runner up. Balaji’s knack for taking wickets is what makes him a great player coupled with his tremendous death bowling skills.