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Best IPL XI from the month of April

The IPL XI of April has Gautam Gambhir as the skipper and Robin Uthappa behind the stumps.

The month of April in India is reserved for some action-packed T20 cricket for almost a decade now and it was no different this year. The 10th season of the IPL began on April 5 when last year’s finalists RCB and Sunrisers locked horns in the curtain raiser of IPL 2017.

Ever since the competition has been immense as teams have raised their standards as the tournament progressed. The fielding, at least in the first two weeks, has been pretty pedestrian but has gone better during the course of time. Mumbai Indians are sitting at the top of the table with 8 wins from 10 games. The 2-time champions have played some great cricket, collectively doing well as a team.

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The major disappointment has been the performance of Kohli-led RCB. Hailed as the tournament favourites, the men in red are already out of the tournament as they won just 2 out of their 11 games played so far. Defending Champions, Sunrisers Hyderabad; 2-time champions, Kolkata Knight Riders; and Rising Pune Supergiant are in the fray to seal a spot for the playoffs. Kings XI Punjab, Delhi Daredevils and Gujarat Lions are not out yet but their chances of qualifying are looking slim.

There have been some brilliant individual performances across franchises in the month of April and we bring you the Best XI out of 25-day playing period in the last month:

1) David Warner

David Warner
David Warner. (Photo: IANS)

The Sunrisers Hyderabad captain has always been in exemplary form in the IPL. His performances were steady in the early stages of the tournament till he decided to make merry of the KKR attack. Playing at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, where they have built a fortress this season as they have not lost a single game playing here, Warner played an array of shots to demoralise the KKR bowlers early in the innings.

He kept it very simple and went after the bowling right from the beginning till he was dismissed for a brilliant 126. By virtue of this knock, Sunrisers have clawed their way back into the tournament after being pushed aside by teams earlier.

Warner is the current holder of the orange cap with 489 runs in 10 innings at 61.12. Apart from that 126, Warner has gone past 50 three times this year and is striking at 150.46 per 100 balls.

2) Gautam Gambhir (C)

Gautam Gambhir
Gautam Gambhir. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Gautam Gambhir’s astute leadership has inspired KKR to two IPL titles till date. He is again at his very best leading the side and their home win against RCB, where they bowled the visiting side out for 49, was an insight into Gambhir’s never say die attitude.

Apart from his leadership, Gambhir has been prolific this season batting at the top of the order. He has had the orange cap twice till it swapped heads. His four half-centuries – all in successful chases – were crisp innings where Gauti turned the stiff chases into clinical ones.

The tempos of his innings this year have been brilliant. The 2-time World Cup winner has displayed a wide range of shots and a strike rate of almost 135 has surprised many. Due to his consistent scores, there have been murmurs of his inclusion in the squad for Champions Trophy. A haul of 411 runs in 11 innings truly warrant a possible recall to the national side.

3) Kane Williamson

Kane Williamson Sunrisers Hyderabad
Kane Williamson of the Sunrisers Hyderabad. (Photo: IANS)

Williamson’s batsmanship has been out of the top drawer this year. Initially, the Kiwi sat out for 5 straight games till he was finally given an opportunity in Sunrisers’ sixth game. He treated everyone with a pristine knock of 89 which came off just 51 balls against Daredevils at home. Since then the Kiwi skipper has been in top form contributing with quick runs in every game. His strike rate of 161.70 is the second highest (min 200 runs) in the tournament so far.

The elegant right-hander is playing catch-up cricket with the others as he has already amassed 228 runs in 5 innings averaging 57. Occupying the No. 3 slot, Williamson has displayed that he can be an equally good player in the shortest format of the game as he is in the other formats.

4) Robin Uthappa (wk)

Robin Uthappa Kolkata Knight Riders
Robin Uthappa. (Photo Source: BCCI)

While Uthappa was slow to get off the blocks this year, he is currently among the top scorer of the tournament with 384 runs in 9 innings. His strike rate of 170.66 is the highest amongst batsmen who have made more than 175 runs this year. The Karnataka batsman has been in outstanding form as he has managed to cross the 50-run mark 5 times in the last 7 games, including 3 back-to-back fifties in his last 3.

He has been sharp behind the stumps too as he accounted for three stumpings in one game against RPS, equaling the IPL record of MS Dhoni who has achieved the feat twice.

Uthappa’s contributions at No. 3 have been the backbone of KKR’s good showing this year. He comes in and quickly gets in the zone attacking the bowlers. His good form will ultimately make the selectors ponder over his inclusion in the national side later this year.

5) Manish Pandey

Manish Pandey KKR
Manish Pandey. (Photo Source: BCCI)

Like Uthappa, Pandey too has been in good form and is one of the reasons of KKR’s success this year. Pandey has had just one score in the single digits this year which shows that he has been very consistent. He rotates the strike brilliantly in the middle overs which enable him to read the pace of the wicket to launch an attack at the end of the innings.

341 runs in 10 innings at 56.83 will certainly push his case for the ODI Team where he has already played 12 games. Post his match-winning 104*at Sydney, Pandey could not produce similar innings in the next few games thereby losing his spot in the XI. But runs in domestic cricket and in the IPL might help him win his position back and Pandey will have to be smart enough to hold onto it this time.

6) Ben Stokes

Ben Stokes
Rising Pune Supergiants’ Ben Stokes celebrates his half century. (Photo: IANS)

Stokes came into the tournament with the pressure of his colossal price tag. He was acquired for Rs 14.5 crore in the IPL auctions and was immediately labelled as ‘over-priced’ by a lot of experts. He did prove his worth scoring a half-century in his second IPL game. Runs started to dry up but that is the advantage of being an all-rounder.

While he couldn’t get the big runs, the English all-rounder was doing a terrific job with the ball, especially during the death overs. In 9 games, Stokes has just 7 wickets but an economy rate of under 7.50 has been excellent. He has bowled tight lines and has been the slog-overs specialist for RPS this year.

Then came the big moment. Playing in his 8th game, Stokes registered his maiden T20 hundred to guide his team home in a tense chase against Gujarat Lions at the MCA Stadium in Pune. He successfully proved that he is worth every penny of the money spent on him by his franchise.

7) Hardik Pandya

Hardik and Krunal Pandya
Hardik and Krunal Pandya. (Photo Source: BCCI)

Mumbai’s great run this year is a result of a team effort. There is not a single batsman from MI in the Top 10 list of most run-getter this year. Guys like Hardik Pandya, have identified their specific roles and have performed to the expectations of the think-tank. Pandya has scored just 151 runs in the tournament so far but they have come at an average of 50.33 and a strike rate of almost 172. He has been a big impact player batting low down in the order.

He has done an equally amazing job bowling crucial overs at the death. Again, 4 wickets from 10 games may not scream of fine form, but Pandya has bowled consistently well in the last five overs of an innings. He is a utility player and is performing well in whatever opportunities are been presented to him.

8) Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Bhuvneshwar Kumar. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Bhuvneshwar has been as good as Warner for the Sunrisers. He has been equally effective with the new as well as the old ball. Warner has immense faith in the fast bowler’s ability especially at the death as Kumar has delivered in crunch situations to win the confidence of his skipper.

His numbers this year have been brilliant: 21 wickets in 10 games at 12.61 runs apiece. He has returned with wickets in every game. Usually, a wicket-taking bowler is given a leeway of conceding a few more runs than the others, but Bhuvi’s economy rate of 6.62 accentuates the greatness of his skill and mental toughness.

No wonder that Bhuvi is the current purple cap holder. He is in the middle of a once-in-a-lifetime season. His yorkers have been pinpoint and his swing with the new ball, decisive.

9) Rashid Khan

Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan of Sunrisers Hyderabad. (Photo Source: BCCI)

The Afghan sensation has been a regular feature in SRH’s XI bowling in the Powerplay in almost every game. The rookie leg-spinner has bowled like an experienced campaigner and has hardly gone for runs as his economy rate of 6.82 suggests. The googly of the 18-year old has been tough to pick even for the top international stars. His fielding has been as immaculate as his tight lines while bowling.

Rashid has 12 wickets in 10 games at 22.75. Warner trusts Rashid’s skills and hands the ball to him whenever he is in need of wickets. The Afghani has responded more often than not to his captain’s call this year.

10) Jaydev Unadkat

Jaydev Unadkat
Jaydev Unadkat of Rising Pune Supergiant. (Photo: IANS)

Jaydev Unadkat has featured in 7 games this year and RPS has been victorious in 6 of them. It is not a co-incidence that Unadkat’s inclusion in the XI has coincided with RPS’s great run as the left-arm fast bowler has contributed to the team’s victories. The Saurashtra lad has been good with his cutters and slower balls during the latter stages of an innings. Unadkat’s economy rate of 7.75 this year is decent especially that he usually bowls 2 overs out of the last four of the innings.

12 wickets in 7 games have helped Unadkat to get an extended run in RPS. Smith has entrusted him for picking wickets at the back end as well as the start of the innings. He has responded almost every time so far this year.

11) Jasprit Bumrah

Jasprit Bumrah
Jasprit Bumrah celebrates with teammates. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Bumrah has been the mainstay of Mumbai Indians’ bowling attack since a couple of seasons. He has been used as a middle overs bowler this year by Mumbai and, again, has been immaculate with the yorkers this year. His haul of 12 wickets from 10 games has been instrumental to Mumbai’s success this year. An economy of 8.02 is not bad either considering he usually comes on to ball in the second half of the innings.

It is because of the IPL that Bumrah got into national reckoning. He continues to impress with his skill of bowling full consistently even in pressure situations.

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