IPL 2023: from Buttler to Rabada - who features in NationalWorld’s dream squad ahead of Indian Premier League?

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Ben Stokes and Sam Curran feature with two other English stars in NationalWorld’s top picks for upcoming Indian Premier League

It’s almost time for one of the most hotly-anticipated tournaments in the world of cricket. The globe’s best stars will gather on the pitches of India to play in the most expensive T20 league in the world.

The draft for the league took place following the conclusion of the T20 World Cup in December 2022 with Player of the Final Sam Curran collecting the biggest paycheck in IPL history and 12 other English white-ball stars were picked up with him.

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However, with all the T20 stars to choose from (excluding those from Pakistan tragically), who would make up the best IPL XI team from the 2023 pool?

Top order batters:

Openers have to be England’s Jos Buttler and India’s KL Rahul. Following his magical madness in 2022, Buttler has to be on everyone’s list for opening up an innings. He averaged 57.53 for the Rajasthan Royals last year and was an instrumental cog in England’s T20 World Cup success, scoring 80* against India in the semi-final to help England to a 10 wicket win with four overs to spare.

Behind Buttler in the 2022 stats sits KL Rahul. No-one was anywhere near Buttler’s level last year, but if anyone was going to give the Lancashire batter a run for his money it would have been Lucknow Super Giant’s captain. He averaged 51.33 and made two fifties for India as they reached the semi-final of the World Cup last November.

The star of the T20 World Cup, however, was Rahul’s compatriot Suyakumar Yadav. Yadav scored three fifties in six innings, averaging nearly 60 during the World Cup and his strike rate sat at 189.68. He was named 2022’s T20I cricketer of the year and is at the top of the ICC rankings

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The fourth batter to come in would be England’s Harry Brook. Not many people have had a better start to their international career than the Yorkshireman and with a busy summer ahead, he is likely to utilise his opportunities in the IPL as much as possible to solidify his position in the England side as the prospect of a returning Johnny Bairstow looms.

This will be Brook’s first year in the IPL but in his 17 T20 innings, he has already scored 372 runs and has an average of 26.57.

Hardik Pandya celebrates taking a catch off his own bowling against England in 2022Hardik Pandya celebrates taking a catch off his own bowling against England in 2022
Hardik Pandya celebrates taking a catch off his own bowling against England in 2022 | Getty Images

All-rounders:

One thing T20 formats benefit from potentially more than any other format is the role of the all-rounder. At any point these players can come in and change the game. So, who else to start with other than Ben Stokes?

The England red-ball captain saved England’s T20 World Cup final against Pakistan, once again becoming the man of the hour right at the moment his squad needed it the most. His stats are not the most flattering, with a batting average of 21.66 and bowling average of 32.92. However, on the big occasions, he delivers and with his fielding abilities, it’s just always better having Ben Stokes than not having Ben Stokes.

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The other main man has to be Hardik Pandya. The Indian all-rounder led the Gujarat Titans to IPL victory in their inaugural season in the competition. He is the number two ranked all-rounder in T20 cricket, scored 487 runs and took eight wickets in last year’s tournament.

The all-rounder also came devastatingly close to saving India’s World Cup semi-final against England when he scored 63 off 33 balls to salvage some sort of score.

Ravindra Jadeja is the third on the all-rounder roster. Fans have described having Stokes and Jadeja in the Rajasthan Royals squad the equivalent to having Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the same team. 2021 was Jadeja’s stand-out year in the IPL, averaging 75.66 runs and taking 13 wickets. His 2022 season was not quite such a sell-out but he will most definitely hope to return to his unbeatable best, even if it is just to beat his former team CSK.

The final ‘all-rounder’ (although arguably he is more a bowler) is Sam Curran. You can’t not have the most expensive player in your team if you can! Curran was named in the T20 World Cup best XI, was the Player of the Tournament and Man of the Match in the final. Throughout the tournament, he took 13 wickets, taking 3/12 against Pakistan, and finished with an economy of 6.52

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Bowlers:

The two opening bowlers in this Dream XI are South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada and Australia’s Josh Hazlewood. Rabada was the highest-wicket taker of all the pacemen in the 2022 IPL, taking 23 wickets at an incredible average of 17.65. He may not have enjoyed the most spectacular World Cup (but then neither did the rest of South Africa) but his consistency and pace is unrivalled.

Hazlewood is currently fourth in the ICC rankings for T20 bowlers and in the 2022 IPL the Australian paceman took 20 wickets at an average of 18.85. In 2021, he was named in the ICC Men’s T20I Team of the Year and in his 37 T20I matches, the 33-year-old has taken 53 wickets.

Adil Rashid makes up the 11th player in the squad. Yes, there might be quite a few English players featuring in this Dream XI but that’s what you get if you win a World Cup. The spinner is just behind Hazlewood in the ICC rankings and in the World Cup final, Rashid took two crucial wickets as he helped his side to lift the trophy. This will be Rashid’s first full IPL and the Sunrisers Hyderabad have secured a man who has taken 95 wickets in his T20I career and has best figures of 4/2.

When is the IPL?

The IPL starts on Friday 31 March 2023 and will run through until the grand finale on 28 May 2023. Sky Sports will have all the action from the Indian pitches.

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