The winners Gemini Arabians had plenty of key individual performers © Getty Images
The winners Gemini Arabians had plenty of key individual performers © Getty Images

The inaugural Masters Champions League (MCL) 2016 saw a number of great performances from retired cricketers, bringing millions of smiles back on the faces of their fans. MCL 2016 started on January 28 and ended on February 13, the Virender Sehwag-led Gemini Arabians and Brian Lara-led Leo Lions taking each other on in the final. The six teams had players from all around the world, with the likes of Sehwag, Lara, Kumar Sangakkara, Muttiah Muralitharan, Brett Lee, and Daniel Vettori all gracing the event. Vishal Mehra reviews all the best performers from MCL and compiles the best playing XI of the tournament.

1. Virender Sehwag: Captain for the Gemini Arabians, Sehwag gave his team blistering starts in most of the matches he batted in, making 309 runs with one century and 2 half-centuries in the process, at a phenomenal strike-rate of 190. Sehwag made a 134 run off 63 balls against Sagittarius Strikers in Match 10, hitting 10 fours and 11 sixes in that innings. He will be one of the openers.

2. Mahela Jayawardene: One of Sri Lanka’s most dependable batsmen, Jayawardene has gone about making merry in the MCL without much fuss. Playing for Sagittarius Strikers, he has made 299 runs in the six matches with one century and 2 half-centuries. Jayawardene has been ably supported by Adam Gilchrist to get their team off to great starts, and he will be Sehwag’s fellow opener.

3. Kumar Sangakkara: Sri Lanka’s run-machine Sangakkara has been on a dream run even after retiring from International cricket, making half-centuries galore regardless of which league he is playing in. Thus far in this edition Sangakkara has made five fifties in six innings, scoring 356 runs at an average of 71.20. He has been the pillar of strength for the Arabians, along with Sehwag and Brad Hodge. He will come in at No. 3 for this team.

4. Brad Hodge: Another Gemini Arabian player who has been the main stay of their batting down the order has been Brad Hodge, who has so far amassed 153 runs in five innings. The strike rate of 157.73 is enough to slot him at the No. 4 position. Hodge has been among the best-equipped T20 players all round the world. Even though he has not bowled that much in this event, his bowling can come in handy for a few overs of off-spin.

5. Ryan ten Doeschate:  Libra Legends have been much lucky to have Ryan ten Doeschate within their line-up. Coming in at No. 5 ten Doeschate has made 171 runs in 5 matches at a strike rate of 158.33. Ten Doeschate has made two half-centuries. His second half-century 67 off 36 balls helped his team win a high-scoring match against the Leo Lions.

6. Andrew Symonds: Capricorn Commanders’ only representation in the playing XI is the hard hitting Andrew Symonds. Playing in just 5 matches, he struck 149 runs at an impressive average of 37.25. Symonds, who has hinted a return of international T20 matches, will only add the fire power to an already dynamic middle order. He is also no mug with the ball, and his right arm medium/ off-spin will only help the team control the middle over fight.

7. Jacob Oram: One of the most economic bowlers in the league Jacob Oram can take care of the role of an all–rounder with his batting and bowling abilities. Oram, who has been the go-to bowler for Virgo Super Kings, has given away just 77 runs in the 4 matches he has played so far at an economy of 5.13. He also strikes the ball at a fair distance.

8. Kyle Mills: The lanky New Zealand fast bowler Kyle Mills will make for an all-Kyle attack alongside Kyle Jarvis. Mills, in his stay with Gemini Arabians, has picked up 10 wickets in six matches. Mills has mostly bowled in the early stages of the matches. Mills has given Muralitharan openings to breeze past the opponents’ batting line-up.

9. Muttiah Muralitharan: One of the greatest off-spinners of all time, Muralitharan has continued his wicket-taking prowess even in MCL 2016. Playing for Gemini Arabians, he is the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with 14 wickets at an astounding average of 10.14. Murali’s best came in match against Leo Lions. Murali picked his arch nemesis Lara for a duck, and proceeded to pick up James Franklin, Brendon Taylor, and Herschelle Gibbs afterward.

10. Kyle Jarvis: One of the most unknown commodities in the eyes of the fans, Kyle Jarvis has been on the mark with his fast bowling for Leo Lions. Jarvis in having played only four matches for the Lions has picked up 10 wickets at a miserly economy rate of 7.25 with a best spell of 3 for 17.

11. Malinga Bandara: The 36-year-old leggie will play a big role in tandem with Muralitharan. With 10 wickets at an economy rate of 6.90, Bandara played a huge role for Virgo Super Kings. Bandara’s best haul of 4 for 16 guided his team to the quarterfinal stage, turning the match on its head by taking three wickets for 4 runs in his first two overs.

CricketCountry XI for MCL 2016 (in batting order): Virender Sehwag (c), Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Brad Hodge, Ryan ten Doeschate, Andrew Symonds, Jacob Oram, Kyle Mills, Muttiah Muralitharan, Kyle Jarvis, Malinga Bandara.

Note: All the stats are taken before the final match of the tournament.