IPL 2014 Best XI: Finalists Kolkata Knight Riders, Kings XI Punjab provide bulk of line-up led by George Bailey
George Bailey (centre) leads the IPL 2014 Best XI team © IANS & PTI
The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 saw many great performances from the players. CricketCountry reviews all the best performers from IPL 7 and compiles the Best XI of the tournament. This features four players from Kings XI Punjab and two from Kolkata Knight Riders. Nishad Pai Vaidya draws up the XI.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 saw some brilliant performances through the season. But, to put in a performance is one thing; doing it consistently is what sets a few players apart. To pick an XI out of some good players was tough, but as one goes through the records and tries to build a side, it gets much easier. While picking CricketCountry’s IPL 2014 XI, the players were considered according to the role. For example, Robin Uthappa and Dwayne Smith have been picked as openers, and although David Warner and Lendl Simmons did well, they couldn’t make the cut.
Here is the team we picked:
1. Robin Uthappa (Kolkata Knight Riders)
With 660 runs at an average of 44.00 and five fifties in the season, Uthappa walks into the side easily. He dominated the India leg, where he was promoted to the top. The thing that stood out was the 10 consecutive 40-plus scores, which is a mark of remarkable consistency. Uthappa did inspire Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to turn the tide and he set the tone at the top with some fantastic knocks. It was a combination of sensible batting and aggression. Though he was hitting it around, there was a sense of calm in his batting as he led Kolkata’s innings. This performance has helped him return to the Indian One-Day International (ODI) side.
2. Dwayne Smith (Chennai Super Kings)
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) had the strongest opening combination by far with Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum opening the innings. Smith smashed 566 runs at an average of 35.37 with five fifties. Smith attacked from the outset and helped Chennai off to good starts. He not only played through the off-side, but also found his range down the ground and the off-side. Smith was almost unstoppable through the tournament and would demoralize bowlers with his free-stroking approach.
3. Suresh Raina (Chennai Super Kings)
Arguably the best No 3 batsman in the tournament; Suresh Raina is the fulcrum of the batting order for Chennai. Raina finished with 523 runs at an average of 40.23. However, his strike-rate of 145.68 is what stands out. He had yet another successful season and the knocks that set him apart from the rest came at the business end of the tournament. In the Eliminator against Mumbai Indians, he smashed a quick fifty to see Chennai through. But, the dazzling 87 off 25 balls in the second Qualifier against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) would be remembered for a long time.
Glenn Maxwell won the Player of the Series award for IPL 2014 © IANS
4. Glenn Maxwell (Kings XI Punjab)
Glenn Maxwell set the stage alight during the IPL 2014 and showed how destructive he can be. He started the tournament with three big scores and fearlessly took on the bowling even when he was in his 90s. Maxwell swept the spinners out of sight and also essayed reverse hit to the fast bowlers. It was just the audacity that caught the eye as he smashed 552 runs at 34.50 at a strike-rate of 187.75. Although he failed in the later stages and was troubled by the leggies, he did start Punjab’s remarkable run in the IPL 2014. He has to be in the side.
5. Wriddhiman Saha (Kings XI Punjab) (wicketkeeper)
This could well be Wriddhiman Saha’s moment in destiny. A player who went unnoticed in the past made a mark on this tournament with some dazzling display of batting. In this tournament, he recorded one century and two fifties, with a strike-rate over 140. The ton in the final showed how much he had grown as a batsman. Earlier, many felt he had his limitations and could not hit out. However, the smashing half-century against Sunrisers Hyderabad helped Punjab chase down a 200-plus total and that showed what he was capable of. Plus, his wicketkeeping was clean as he went unnoticed behind the stumps. So, no blemishes there!
6. George Bailey (Kings XI Punjab) (captain)
The smiling campaigner has to lead this side. George Bailey graciously led the Kings XI Punjab and became a popular player during the campaign. His presence in the side also brings in calm. If a bowler gets hit and he turns to his captain, a smiling face does calm nerves. Though Bailey did not have the best season with the bat, he did play a couple of knocks to add the finishing touch. That is what would be his role in the side as a batsman at No 6.
7. Akshar Patel (Kings XI Punjab)
Akshar Patel is yet another young success story at the IPL. The left handed all-rounder was given a consistent run in the side by Punjab and he repaid the faith with some great performances. With the ball in hand, he was economical and kept the pressure going, picking the wickets along the way. And, when he was accorded the opportunity with the bat, he did well by finishing a game against the Delhi Daredevils. He was voted as the Emerging Player of the Tournament and that has also helped him book a spot in the Indian team for the tour to Bangladesh.
8. Lasith Malinga (Mumbai Indians)
The Sri Lankan slinger continues to dominate the format. Lasith Malinga scalped 16 wickets in his 10 games at a brilliant average of 15.81. An economy rate of 6.45 also shows how effective he was. In the top ten wicket takers in the tournament, his average stands out. Though his team struggled for a major part of his stay in India, Malinga still managed to make a mark on the tournament. He delivered those Yorkers and was also entrusted with bowling the death overs. Some felt his powers were on the wane last season, but this year he has shown that there is more in store.
Sunil Narine was one of the main reasons KKR reached the IPL 7 final © IANS
9. Sunil Narine (Kolkata Knight Riders)
How can a T20 side be complete without Sunil Narine? Though there were a few games where the batsmen took him apart, a tournament economy rate of 6.35 suggests that he more than made up for it in the other games. Along the way, he picked up 21 wickets at an average of 19.38. Gautam Gambhir usually used him in two spells. He would bowl the solitary over early on and then go with three at the death. Despite that, he maintained an economy rate of 6.35 shows how well he bowled. The mystery continues and looks set to return next year!
10. Mohit Sharma (Chennai Super Kings)
The purple cap winner has to be there in this side. Mohit Sharma has gone on to build on his performance in the last IPL. Chennai have kept him in their side and that has helped his confidence. Mohit is medium pace and his strengths lie in hitting the right areas. Though, he does go for runs at times, he does pick up crucial moments and has been MS Dhoni’s go-to man in this tournament. With 23 wickets to his credit, he edged Narine and took home the purple cap. This comes at a time when he is trying to get back into the Indian ODI side as he will be touring Bangladesh.
11. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
The biggest positive Team India can take from the IPL 2014 is Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s progress. Since he made his international debut in late 2012, he was mainly considered as someone who could only bowl with the new ball and that his lack of pace stopped him from bowling at the death. However, during this IPL, he moved into the role well for Sunrisers Hyderabad, keeping Ishant Sharma out of the side. He took 20 wickets at an average of 17.70 and an economy of 6.65. While bowling at the death, he consistently hit the right areas and did not allow the batsmen the opportunity. Dhoni does have another option at the death now when they don the India jersey.
In Photos: IPL 2014 Best XI
Click here for IPL 2014 complete coverage
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)