There are two things in the world that get better with time, Wine and Sachin. The master had two forgetful IPLs previously. But this time, he looked like a man on a mission. He proved that even in the mad world of mongooses and dilscoops, there is still place for romance between bat and ball. He was consistent throughout and never let Mumbai down. His captaincy was also top notch (barring the finals) and the way he handled the youngsters Tiwary, Rayudu, Dhawan, Satish was exceptional. It's a pity that the trophy didn't land in his hands.
This hasn't been a tournament for maverick openers. Big names like Hayden,Gilchrist,Sehwag,Gayle,Jayasuriya flopped and lesser knowns like Vijay, Lumb, Ojha made hay. Vijay is always known to be a technically compact and a good onside player but not an ideal T20 opener. He started IPL3 on a poor note and was even dropped for Parthiv. The way he bounced back was impeccable and his rise in form was parallel to Chennai's rise of fortunes. The ton he got against Rajasthan was a pleasure to watch and expect fireworks from him in world T20.
The fact that Raina is the only player to score 400+ in every edition of IPL speaks volumes about the talent this man has. The south paw, a favourite to Greg Chappel, who viewed him as India's answer to Brain Lara, packs a punch and has been a reliable performer for CSK. He added a lot of maturity to his batting which should augur well for India. A fantastic fielder too and a bowler trusted by Dhoni. He is still 23 and with time on his side, expect big things from him in future.
Why this man won't be in the flight for carribean is still a mystery to many. A better striker/batsman than Yusuf Pathan as this IPL proved, he has a fantastic ability to change the course of the match in the space of a couple of overs. These are impact players and the one's who win you trophies from the most unlikliest of situations as he showed game after game in this IPL. The fact that he also keeps the wickets is a bonus. That over of Sreesanth in which he plundered 25 runs to change the game at Chinnaswamy is some of the finest hitting witnessed in recent times.
I know this will be a controversial selection but watson has proved us all how Rajastan missed him in IPL2 and half of IPL3. Almost chased down 246 in his very first outing in IPL3. A fearsome striker of the ball, a good player of the short ball and is a true floater, some one who can bat anywhere from 1-5 with devastating effect. A very clever bowler and a good fielder. A very experienced T20 cricketer and a vital cog in the Aussie side, every captain would love to have him in his side. He only played 8 games but he has done enough to merit an all rounders slot in this lineup.
Generally Mumbai get it wrong with big signings, be it Jayasuriya/Duminy/Uthappa(850,000$). When they signed him for the record IPL fee, he was in Australia playing with Shahid Afridi for South Australia. He had a mediocre big bash and i had doubts over him. But boy did he prove me wrong or what. Tailor made for T20, the big West Indian was an instant hit with the Mumbai crowd with his brutal hitting. Even for such a powerful man, the way he plays with a straight bat is refreshing to see. Also a very canny T20 bowler and a brilliant fielder, he has been a revelation in this IPL. Every penny well spent.
Naman Ojha had a terrific IPL and by Dhoni's standards, he had an ordinary time with the bat. But for the balance of the side, Dhoni has to be in this side. As the team is loaded with big hitters, they need a captain who will let them be their own selves and will always put his hand up in times of crisis. He still can hit a mean ball, as showed by his innings against Punjab, he is the leading wicket keeper batsmen in world cricket right now.
The purple cap winner of this edition of IPL has been a vital cog in the Deccan setup. He got wickets aplenty and crucially at a less economy rate. Never afraid to flight the ball, he and Mishra proved that spinners are pretty effective in the shorter format of the game. He should be deployed as a containing bowler rather than an attacking one. Hw will be bitterly disappointed to watch world T20 in his LCD.
CSK's IPL campaign can be divided into two halves, one before bollinger and another after Bollinger. Chennai tried many a fast bowler before him without any success. His first game for Chennai was a bowler's nightmare. Chennai scored 246 and Rajastan almost chased it down. Amid all those ruins, only Bollinger came out with the best paint, (figures of 4-0-13-3). Has been at his bustling best throughout his stay, he provided Chennai with crucial breakthroughs and is a firm fan favourite at Chennai.
The most lethal T20 bowler in world cricket right now. He is very difficult to get away because of his slinging action and deadly accuracy. He formed a deadly partnership with Zaheer Khan and was mean and reliable throughout the IPL. The first bowler that any captain would want in his side.
Another inclusion that doesn't win me any fans but Mishra was brilliant for the daredevils this season. The runner up to the purple cap is a more attacking spinner than Ojha and would like the batsmen to attack him and then beat them with his flight and googlies. I had to include him in this side for the balance of the side. Teams would know they can't score many of Bollinger and Lasith and might target this leggie. This is where he is at his best and can outsmart them. The way he got rid of Kallis was a thing of beauty. He should be deployed as an attacking spinner.
Jayawardene, R.Ashwin, J.Kallis, A.Kumble,A.Symonds
PS: This article is contributed by my friend Phani Raja Sekhar.