Chennai Super Kings rekindled their slim Indian Premier League play-off hopes with a resounding eight-wicket triumph over Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday. 

The Super Kings had managed just one win in their previous six games but belied that poor run of form with a fine all-round performance in Dubai. 

Bangalore had the chance to go top of the table but a total of 145-6 was not enough, despite a defiant half-century from captain Virat Kohli and 39 from AB de Villiers.

Sam Curran claimed 3-19 while Mitchell Santner returned figures of 1-23 from his four overs, setting up the opportunity for Chennai's batsmen to deliver a much-needed result. 

Ruturaj Gaikwad led the way at the top of the order, finishing up unbeaten on 65 not out after sharing stands worth 46 and 67 with Faf du Plessis (25) and Ambati Rayudu (39) respectively. 

Skipper MS Dhoni made 19 not out as his side cruised to their target with eight balls to spare, a victory that moves them off the bottom of the standings. 

 

SAM THE MAN FOR A CHALLENGE 

In a difficult campaign, Curran has shone for the Super Kings. The England all-rounder has performed whatever role required efficiently and is now his franchise's leading wicket-taker in 2020. 

His left-arm seam accounted for a trio of big names, as he dismissed Aaron Finch early on before returning to take out international team-mate Moeen Ali and the key wicket of Kohli in the 19th over. 

CHENNAI OPEN TO CHANGE 

Gaikwad recorded his maiden half-century in the Twenty20 tournament, producing a fluent 51-ball innings that included three sixes. 

The right-hander, 23, completed the job in style, pulling a Chris Morris short ball over the boundary. It was a far cry from his previous knock too, having fallen for a duck against Mumbai Indians last time out. 

Mohammed Siraj made history with an astonishing display of bowling to set up a crushing eight-wicket win for Royal Challengers Bangalore over the sorry Kolkata Knight Riders.

Seamer Siraj claiming incredible figures of 3-8 off four overs as KKR could only post a pitiful 84-8 from their 20 overs in a one-sided Indian Premier League match at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.

Kolkata's total was the lowest from the full complement of overs in an IPL game without a team getting bowled out and Siraj's figures were the most economical in the tournament this year.

Siraj was the first to bowl two maidens in an IPL innings, while Yuzvendra Chahal claimed 2-15 and captain Eoin Morgan (30) was one of only four KKR batsmen to make double figures.

RCB needed just 13.3 overs to reach their target in Abu Dhabi and go second in the table, level on points with leaders Delhi Capitals. 

Lockie Ferguson was the Knight Riders' only wicket-taker, getting Aaron Finch caught behind after Devdutt Padikkal (25) was run out.

KKR never recovered from the magnificent Siraj taking two wickets in as many balls in the second over and remain in fourth spot.

 

SIRAJ STUNS KKR, TON UP FOR AB

Siraj had three wickets without conceding a run from two overs and was on a hat-trick after seeing the back of Rahul Tripathi and Nitish Rana.

Morgan's men were deep in the mire on 14-4 when Tom Banton was taken by AB de Villiers, who reached the 100 IPL catches landmark.

KKR never got going, Morgan scoring half of their six fours as the RCB bowlers gave little away, bowling 72 dot balls in a strange innings.

 

KOHLI ON A ROLL

RCB unsurprisingly made easy work of putting KKR out of their misery, getting home at a canter.

An unbroken stand of 39 between Gurkeerat Singh (21) and Virat Kohli (18) sealed it, the skipper maintaining his excellent form after a slow start to the competition.

The India captain has scored 329 runs since the beginning of this month, averaging a mammoth 109.7. He has also racked up 285 in his last four knocks versus KKR at an average of 142.5.

AB de Villiers smashed a match-winning fifty as Royal Challengers Bangalore claimed a brilliant seven-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League.

South African great De Villiers made it three unbeaten half centuries for the tournament, lofting Jofra Archer over deep midwicket for his sixth maximum to make it 55 off 22 deliveries and seal the points with two balls to spare.

Rajasthan set Bangalore 177-6, as Steve Smith returned to form with an excellent 57 from 36 deliveries, but they have now lost four of their past five matches.

The Royal Challengers are third with six wins from nine outings and their other standout performer was Chris Morris, whose 4-24 include the scalps of Smith, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes.

Bangalore lost Aaron Finch for 14 after a couple of sixes early in the run chase as the Australia opener sliced a slog sweep off Shreyas Gopal high into the air.

Skipper Virat Kohli (43) and Devdutt Padikkal combined in an assured stand of 79 for the second wicket but departed in consecutive balls when trying to force the pace, leaving their side 102-3 in the 14th over.

Enter De Villiers, who took the attack back to Rajasthan with able support from Gurkeerat Singh (19 not out). He made his move decisively at the start of the penultimate over, when he bludgeoned Jaydev Unadkat for three consecutive sixes.

Earlier, a reshuffled Rajasthan order paid dividends for their captain Smith, who dropped down to four after a succession of single-figure scores.

Robin Uthappa's breezy 41 accounted for the bulk of a half-century opening stand with Stokes (15) but they were 69-3 when Sanju Samson fell to Yuzvendra Chahal.

Smith rebuilt alongside Buttler (25) and remained until the final over, when Morris added the Australia star and Archer to his haul. It might have been enough, but for the inimitable De Villiers.

De Villiers turns in another masterclass

"I'm very, very nervous and erratic [in a run chase] and I get very stressed like any player," De Villiers said when being presented with the man-of-the-match award. Spare a thought for Unadkat, in that case. The left-armer might feel he was hung out to dry by Smith handing him the 19th over. His first delivery was crashed over midwicket, with a slower ball dispatched beyond wide long-on next ball.

A dismissive swipe over square leg followed before a single from an attempted yorker ended the assault. De Villiers and Gurkeerat still needed 11 from Archer's final over, but the momentum had unquestionably shifted.

Buttler loses out in Rajasthan reshuffle

While a move down the order worked for Smith, the same could not be said for England big-hitter Buttler. Demoted from opening alongside Stokes, he scored an unusually circumspect 24 off 25 deliveries before holing out to Morris.

Chris Gayle made an impact and KL Rahul continued his impressive form as Kings XI Punjab once again come out on top against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League.

Kings XI have found wins hard to come by in 2020 but have now triumphed in both games with Bangalore, albeit only after surviving a late wobble on Thursday. 

Gayle made 53 from 45 balls but was run out from the penultimate delivery with the scores level. That left Nicholas Pooran to come out and face one ball, which he proceeded to launch down the ground for six. 

The eight-wicket victory gives Kings XI renewed hope for the season, though they remain bottom of the table. 

Rahul – who made 132 not out in the previous meeting of the two franchises – finished up unbeaten on 61, in the process extending his lead at the top of the run-scoring table. 

Opening partner Mayank Agarwal weighed in with 45 as Bangalore's total of 171-6 was not quite enough, despite the unexpected final-over drama. 

Virat Kohli had top-scored with 48 but the Royal Challengers struggled to pick up the run-rate, making the decision to leave AB de Villiers down at six in the order even more surprising. 

The South African made just two but compatriot Chris Morris was far more successful in the closing stages, an eight-ball cameo seeing him make 25 not out. 

DE VILLIERS MADE TO WAIT 

De Villiers was at his explosive best against Kolkata Knight Riders last time out, smashing an unbeaten 73 from 33 balls. 

Despite that explosive display of hitting, Bangalore sent both Washington Sundar and Shivam Dube in ahead of him, before he eventually came out with four overs to go.

THE UNIVERSE BOSS IS BACK!

Gayle's involvement in the tournament was delayed by food poisoning, leading to a spell in hospital. He batted in the unfamiliar position of three for Kings XI, coming in after the opening duo had put on 78. 

After a cautious start, the left-hander cut loose with a solitary four and five sixes. Even his demise added a little drama, but Pooran finished the job in style with a maximum off Yuzvendra Chahal. 

AB de Villiers bludgeoned a swashbuckling half-century to set up a crushing 82-run Indian Premier League win for Royal Challengers Bangalore over Kolkata Knight Riders.

The Knight Riders had won three consecutive matches, but they were brought back down to earth at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Monday.

It was an astonishing knock from De Villiers that made it very much advantage RCB, the maverick South African smashing 73 not out off just 33 balls to get his side up to an imposing 194-2.

De Villiers blasted six sixes and five fours, reaching his half-century in 23 deliveries as the likes of Andre Russell and Pat Cummins were taken to all parts.

Aaron Finch (47), Virat Kohli (33no) and Devdutt Padikkal (32) also contributed, but it was De Villiers who very much took centre stage with his highest score against KKR.

The Knight Riders could only make 112-9 in reply on a slow track, with the impressive Washington Sundar taking 2-20 from his four overs and Chris Morris 2-17.

All six RCB bowlers took at least one wicket and Yuzvendra Chahal finished with outstanding figures of 1-12 from the 24 deliveries he sent down.

Shubman Gill top-scored with 34 as only three Knight Riders batsman made double figures in an emphatic win that moved Kohli's side above their opponents into third.

 

DE VILLIERS GOES BESERK

RCB were 94-2 when De Villiers joined Kohli at the crease in the 13th over after Finch was cleaned up by a Prasidh Krishna yorker.

The mercurial South African upstaged captain Kohli with a breathtaking knock, twice launching Kamlesh Nagarkoti for six – one disappearing out of the ground – and taking 19 off the 17th over from Cummins.

De Villiers continued to dish out some brutal treatment, Russell going for 34 off his final two overs in a stunning blitz to concede a half-century of runs.

Kohli was content to give De Villiers the strike and the wicketkeeper-batsman finished with a staggering strike rate of 221.21 to leave KKR facing a huge run chase.

 

MISERLY SUNDAR PUTS KKR IN A SPIN

Sundar has not taken as many wickets as he deserves in the tournament so far, but the spinner has certainly made a significant impact.

He has an economy rate of 4.90 from seven matches, only bettered by team-mate Morris (4.50) – who has played just the two games.

Sundar bowled Nitish Rana and also saw the back of Eoin Morgan in a run chase that never really got going, Tom Banton out for eight on his IPL debut.

The wily Morris also had another good day out, picking up a couple of wickets when the writing was already on the wall for KKR.

Delhi Capitals moved clear at the top of the Indian Premier League table courtesy of a resounding 59-run win over Royal Challengers Bangalore. 

A strong batting performance that benefited from a late onslaught by the big-hitting Marcus Stoinis powered Delhi to 196-4 after they had been put into bat by Virat Kohli.

Prithvi Shaw (42) was the aggressor in an opening stand worth 68 with Shikhar Dhawan, who contributed a more sedate 32 to the cause before departing in the 10th over. 

Rishabh Pant made 37 but it was Stoinis who stole the show in the closing overs, the Australian all-rounder blasting six fours and a pair of sixes as he made an unbeaten 53.

Bangalore's reply simply never recovered after a poor start that saw them slip to 43-3, AB de Villiers among those to fall early. 

Captain Kohli top-scored with 43 before becoming one of four wickets for the excellent Kagiso Rabada, who now has 12 in this year's tournament at an average of 12.50. 

There were two wickets apiece for Anrich Nortje and Axar Patel too, the Royal Challengers eventually finishing well shy on 137-9 from their 20 overs. 

STOINIS STUNS ROYAL CHALLENGERS 

Stoinis had endured a lean spell since starting the new IPL season with 53 against Kings XI Punjab in Delhi's opener.  

He had managed just 16 runs in three knocks since but was back to his destructive best against Bangalore, reaching his half-century off 24 deliveries as he added 89 for the third wicket with Pant.

FINCH SPARED DESPITE R-ASH MOVE

In 2019, Ravichandran Ashwin caused a stir when, as captain of Kings XI, he ran out Rajathan Royals' Jos Buttler at the non-striker's end, the batsman having left his crease before the ball had been delivered.

There was nearly a repeat when Ashwin had a similar situation with Aaron Finch here, but the India spinner opted instead to produce a stare at the out-of-position Bangalore batsman, followed quickly by a wry smile. 

Virat Kohli ended his barren spell, while Devdutt Padikkal and Yuzvendra Chahal excelled again as Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Rajasthan Royals by eight wickets to go top of the Indian Premier League.

Purple cap holder Chahal took 3-24 to restrict the Royals to 154-6 after Steve Smith won the toss and opted to bat first in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Isuru Udana claimed 2-41, including the early dismissal of Smith, and Rajasthan needed a late flurry of runs from Mahipal Lomror (47) and Rahul Tewatia (24 not out) to post over 150.

That was not enough to prevent RCB from taking over at the summit as a second-wicket stand of 99 from Padikkal and Kohli set up an emphatic win at Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

In-form 20-year-old opener Padikkal (63 off 45 balls) made his third half-century of the tournament and Kohli registered his first after failing in his previous three knocks.

Kohli finished unbeaten on 72 from 53 deliveries as his side secured a third victory out of four, the captain having given himself a lift by hitting the winning runs in a Super Over win over Mumbai Indians last time out.

The Royals are sixth with two wins and as many defeats, but they are set to be boosted by the arrival of England all-rounder Ben Stokes.

 

CHAHAL PURPLE PATCH CONTINUES

Chahal has made an outstanding start to the tournament and played a key role again after Smith and Jos Buttler were dismissed by Udana and Navdeep Saini respectively.

The tweaker struck with his first ball, with Sanju Samson caught and bowled, and the Royals were 70-4 halfway through their innings when Robin Uthappa holed out attempting to launch Chahal for six.

Lomror also fell to the wily Chahal, who applied the pressure with 10 dot balls as he joined Mohammed Shami on eight wickets in the tournament.

 

PADIKKAL ON A ROLL, KOHLI COMES GOOD

Padikkal has been a revelation for RCB at the top of the order and is now the fourth-highest run scorer in the tournament.

The young left-hander showed exquisite timing to dispatch Jaydev Unadkat for six over square leg and found the rope six times in another classy innings.

Much of the talk ahead of the match was over Kohli's lack of runs, but it was only a matter of time before the India captain delivered.

He brought up his 50 off 41 balls after being dropped by Tewatia, hitting two sixes and seven fours in a high-quality knock before AB de Villiers punched Sam Curran for four to seal victory.

Virat Kohli struck the last ball of a Super Over for four to seal a thrilling Indian Premier League win for Royal Challengers Bangalore after Ishan Kishan and Kieron Pollard gave Mumbai Indians hope.

Royal Challengers posted an imposing 201-3 after being put in at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Monday courtesy of half-centuries from Devdutt Padikkal (54), Aaron Finch (52) and AB de Villiers (55).

The brilliant Washington Sundar (1-12) struck a huge blow by dismissing Rohit Sharma in the second over of the run chase and Mumbai looked beaten at 78-4 in the 12th over.

However, Kishan and Pollard astonishing forcedly a tie after putting on 119 for the fifth wicket off just 8.3 overs, the former making 99 off 58 balls – including nine sixes – before he was out off the penultimate delivery.

Pollard (60 not out from 23) brought the scores level with a four off the last ball – making it the highest tied score in an IPL contest – when the Indians were five down, but RCB were not to be denied victory.

Indians duo Pollard and Hardik Pandya could only take seven from Navdeep Saini's Super Over and Jasprit Bumrah was unable to keep it so tight, boundaries from the in-form De Villiers and Kohli giving RCB a second win out of three.

 

KOHLI FAILS AGAIN AS REST OF RCB TOP ORDER CASH IN

Despite hitting the winning runs, Kohli looked out of sorts again as he made just three from 11 balls before the tie-breaker, Rahul Chahar getting the India captain caught at short cover.

Padikkal and Finch had put on 81 for the first wicket in nine overs and De Villiers cashed in on a great track with some magnificent clean striking, hitting four sixes and as many fours.

Shivam Dube got in on the act with an unbeaten 27 off just 10 balls, clearing the ropes three times, as RCB reached 200 for the 17th time when batting first – six more times than any other team.

 

KISHAN AND POLLARD PRODUCE STUNNING BLITZ

It looked to be game over when Pandya fell to Adam Zampa in the 12th over of the run chase, leaving Mumbai four down and with a mountain to climb.

Sundar – who did not concede a boundary from his four overs – saw the back of Rohit before debutant Isuru Udana struck twice, with substitute fielder Pawan Negi taking three catches.

Kishan and Pollard had other ideas, with the West Indies all-rounder hitting the last ball of the 20th over for four after Kishan had struck Udana for back-to-back sixes before being caught in the deep on 99.

 

KOHLI HAS THE LAST LAUGH

It has been a poor start for Kohli, but he had the last laugh by whipping his India team-mate Bumrah for four when needing just one to win off the last ball.

De Villiers, on the other hand, is in great nick and also found the rope off the fourth ball from Bumrah after Saini halted Mumbai's momentum.

KL Rahul punished Virat Kohli for a pair of drops by scoring the first century of the IPL season as Kings XI Punjab crushed Royal Challengers Bangalore by 97 runs in Dubai.

Kings XI captain Rahul spearheaded a dominant victory for his team – their first of the campaign – making an unbeaten 132 off 69 balls in a stunning display of big hitting.

The India international made 42 off his last nine deliveries as RCB were severely punished at the death, their last two overs from Dale Steyn (0-57) and Shivam Dube (2-33) going for 49.

Rahul brought up his ton in an incredible penultimate over that saw him plunder 26 off Steyn, as Kings XI surged from 157-3 to 206-3 at the end of their innings.

RCB paid a heavy price for captain Kohli twice dropping Rahul, first when he was on 83 again when he was on 90 and gearing up for a phenomenal late flurry.

Bangalore never looked like matching the tally. They were reduced to 3-4 when Sheldon Cottrell (17-2) removed Kohli for one, with Washington Sundar (30) and AB de Villiers (28) the only players to score more than 20 as they were skittled for 109.

 

RECORD-BREAKING RAHUL

By surpassing Rishabh Pant's unbeaten 128 for Delhi Daredevils in 2018, Rahul set a record for the highest score by an Indian batsman in the IPL.

De Villiers (133no), Brendon McCullum (158no) and Chris Gayle (175no) are the only players to have bettered Rahul's knock in the competition.

He finished with 14 fours and seven maximums.

NO WAY BACK

When Kohli sliced Cottrell to Ravi Bishnoi after Devdutt Padikkal sent the West Indies left-armer to the same man at mid-on, RCB were left with a mountain to climb.

Bishnoi (3-32) also claimed the scalps of Aaron Finch (20), Umesh Yadav (0) and Sundar to cap an impressive display, but the pick of the bowlers was Murugan Ashwin.

His leg spin accounted for De Villiers and put RCB out of their misery, with Navdeep Saini (6) and Yuzvendra Chahal (1) the final wickets to fall as Ashwin finished with figures of 3-21 from his three overs.

The Indian Premier League returns this weekend, with the creme de la creme of the sport in the United Arab Emirates for the marquee Twenty20 competition of franchise cricket.

Mumbai Indians, the defending champions, face Chennai Super Kings in Saturday's curtain-raiser, which is a repeat of the 2019 final.

Here, we take a look at the players who should light up the tournament.

 

VIRAT KOHLI (Royal Challengers Bangalore)

No man has more IPL runs than RCB captain Kohli, whose 5,412 have been accrued at an average of 37.84 across his 117 matches.

Key Stat: India superstar Kohli is the only batsman in the history of T20 internationals to average more than 50 (50.80) among those with a minimum of 20 innings.

MS DHONI (Chennai Super Kings)

He may have retired from international duty, but Chennai skipper Dhoni is not calling time on his IPL career just yet. You feel the 'finisher' will want to end with a flourish.

Key Stat: Dhoni has made the most runs as a captain (4,142) among the eight skippers. Rajasthan Royals captain Steve Smith is the only man to have a better win percentage (65.5 per cent) than Dhoni's 59.8 per cent too.

JASPRIT BUMRAH (Mumbai Indians)

Player of the match in the 2019 final, it was Bumrah's 2-14 that proved pivotal to Mumbai's success. The seamer has mastered the art of death bowling.

Key stat: No one bowled more balls at the death (overs 17-20) than Bumrah's 172 deliveries in 2019. He had an economy of just 7.7 during that period. 

ANDRE RUSSELL (Kolkata Knight Riders)

West Indian all-rounder Russell is a box office draw for Kolkata Knight Riders having averaged 56.7 with the bat last year.

Key stat: Russell made 510 runs in 2019, of which 85.5 per cent were made from boundaries. That was the biggest percentage for those to have made at least 20 runs.

ROHIT SHARMA (Mumbai Indians)

A record four-time winner of the IPL as Mumbai captain, Rohit made 52 fours last season - the most of his 12-year IPL career.

Key stat: Rohit is 102 runs away from becoming the third batsman to reach 5,000 IPL runs after Kohli and Suresh Raina.

DAVID WARNER (Sunrisers Hyderabad)

Last season Warner won the Orange Cap - awarded to the IPL's leading run-scorer - for a record third time after amassing 692 runs, 99 more than anyone else in the tournament.

Key stat: Warner has now accumulated at least 600 runs in three separate campaigns. Chris Gayle (also three) is the only other batsman to have done so more than once.

DEEPAK CHAHAR (Chennai Super Kings)

Chahar had a breakthrough campaign with the Super Kings last year, claiming 22 wickets - a figure only South African duo Imran Tahir and Kagiso Rabada could better.

Key stat: The seamer bowled 64.3 overs in 2019 and 49 per cent of his deliveries were dot balls - the highest figure among those who bowled at least 10 overs.

KAGISO RABADA (Delhi Capitals)

The Proteas quick made his mark in the IPL last season when he took 25 wickets in the Capitals' run to the semi-finals.

Key stat: Of those who bowled at least 10 overs, Rabada had the best average (14.72) while he and international team-mate Tahir were the only two bowlers to have more than one four-wicket haul.

West Indies players account for the lions share of those considered the best to ever play the game as SportsMax completed its Ultimate XI T20 team ahead of the start of the Hero Caribbean Premier League on Tuesday.

A combination of a panel of experts, the SportsMax Zone, and fans who voted online called fanalysts completed voting on the SportsMax Ultimate XI team with a final discussion on three impact players.

The final six players from which the three were chosen were West Indians

Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, and Andre Russell, Australian Shane Watson, Pakistani Shahid Afridi, and Indian Yuvraj Singh.

The panel, made up of cricket commentator and broadcast journalist, Fazeer Mohammed, cricket umpire Chris Taylor, and statistician, Zaheer Clarke, picked an all-West Indian cast as their impact players, in complete agreement with the SportsMax Zone and Fanalysts.

There was one dissenting voice among the panellists with Fazeer deciding on Shane Watson over Kieron Pollard, however, Clarke and Taylor’s votes were enough to overrule him.

With all parties, the Zone, the panel, and fanalysts in agreement, the final list of the greatest T20 team of all time is complete.

The openers are Chris Gayle and David warner, the middle-order, batsmen 3-5 are Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the bowlers are Sunil Narine, Rashid Khan and Lasith Malinga, while the impact players are Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Powell and Andre Russell.

The Ultimate XI T20 team is made up of five West Indians in Gayle, Narine, Bravo, Pollard, and Russell, while Kohli and Dhoni make up the Indian contingent. Then there is the South African representation in de Villiers, one Australian in Warner, a Sri Lankan in Malinga, and the Afghan Rashid.

 Shoaib Malik, Kevin Pietersen, and Babar Azam were all given the axe as the SportsMax Zone panel and Zone team homed in on the Ultimate XI T20 batsmen 3-5.

After much heated debate, two legendary Indian players Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni were selected alongside South African smasherAB de Villiers as the players to go forward.  The specialist included cricket analyst Kerry Scott, regional umpire Chris Taylor and sports columnist Zaheer Clarke.

For the most part, Kohli and de Villers were universal picks with the battle for the third spot coming down to Dhoni and Pietersen.  Taylor tried to make the case for Pietersen, pointing to a strike rate of 141.51 and an average of 37.93 in T20 international cricket.  He found no support, however, from either his fellow panelist or the Zone team, with exception of Lance Whittaker who was the lone voice joining him in his quest to advance the case of the South African-born Englishman.  Some of the issues presented, in the case again Pietersen, stemmed from what was described as his overall lack of consistency, as compared to the others on the list.

Fans, called Fanalysts have a 30% weighted vote on who makes SportsMax’s Ultimate XI T20 team, with the SportsMax Zone having another 30% of the vote. The panel of experts’ vote will count for 40% of the overall votes.

Fanlysts can vote by clicking here or going to SportsMax.tv and just clicking on the Ultimate XI tab at the top of the screen.

SportsMax.tv has also built a list of profiles where Fanalysts can go to have a look at the careers of the players who have made the SportsMax Ultimate XI shortlist just in case you want to learn a little more about them before making your choice. To take a look at those players click here.

Today the team will turn its attention to sorting through the list of quality bowlers.

 

There was no place for Marlon Samuels in SportsMax’s Ultimate XI T20 batsmen 3-5 after a panel of experts dumped the allrounder from a shortlist of 14 on the SportsMax Zone earlier today.

The panel consisting of David Brook, cricket commentator and reporter, Sachin Ramsuhbag, cricket commentator, and Chris Taylor, commentator and cricket umpire, felt Samuels, though a proven match winner, did not stack up with the consistency of some of the other batsmen in the list.

The panel also felt that Samuels’ strike rate (117.93) over the course of 187 games was not high enough, when compared to others in the list.

That list reads a veritable who’s who in the T20 game, with India’s Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni; South Africa’s Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy and AB de Villiers; West Indies’ Samuels; England’s Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan, and Joe Root; Pakistan’s Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik; Australia’s Glenn Maxwell; Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara; and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson all getting the nod.

From that list, du Plessis, Samuels, Morgan, Duminy, Sangakkara, Maxwell, Williamson and Root have all been cut.

That means Kohli, Pietersen, Babar, Shoaib, de Villiers and Dhoni are the men who will vie for three places, from the number-three to the number five positions in the batting line-up when another panel of experts makes a judgement on the SportsMax Zone tomorrow.

While voting fans, Fanalysts, just pick a final XI, if they were to pick a group for a final discussion, it might look a little different from the one the panel picked.

So far, the fans have favoured Kohli, de Villiers, Dhoni, Maxwell, Pietersen, and there is a toss-up between Samuels and Sangakkara for the sixth position.

For the fans, neither Babar nor Shoaib factor in their all-time XI.

Fans, called Fanalysts have a 30% weighted vote on who makes SportsMax’s Ultimate XI T20 team, with the SportsMax Zone having another 30% of the vote. The panel of experts’ vote will count for 40% of the overall votes.

Fanlysts can vote by clicking here or going to SportsMax.tv and just clicking on the Ultimate XI tab at the top of the screen.

SportsMax.tv has also built a list of profiles where Fanalysts can go to have a look at the careers of the players who have made the SportsMax Ultimate XI shortlist just in case you want to learn a little more about them before making your choice. To take a look at those players click here.

When Pakistan were previously in England for a Test series, Babar Azam saw a promising start cut short by a bad break.  

The batsman made a half-century in the opening game at Lord’s in May 2018, but his involvement in the series was painfully cut short when struck on the left arm by a Ben Stokes short ball.  

Forced to retire hurt with 68 to his name, Babar did not appear again during the tour. A fracture ended his contribution as the tourists triumphed at the home of cricket, while he had to watch on as his side were crushed in the second Test at Headingley. 

At that stage of his career, Babar was viewed as a limited-overs specialist still making his way in the Test arena. With an average under 25 prior to playing England, he was – at the age of 23 – a player with obvious potential working out how to play the game of patience.

Just over two years on, he returns to England having enhanced his reputation to such an extent that the so-called 'Fab Four' - Virat Kohli, Joe Root, Steve Smith and Kane Williamson - have company. It is unclear who identifies as the cricketing versions of Paul, John, Ringo and George, but Babar is not like the fifth Beatle – his identity is clear.

Start a discussion with cricket fans over who should be considered the lead act in the group and you are opening a cricketing can of worms. It is a topic that, understandably, stirs up national pride, but also heated discussions about the weight of importance given to each format. 

What is not up for debate, however, is that Babar deserves to be in the conversation. His white-ball numbers are outstanding – he averages over 50 in Twenty20 and one-dayers for Pakistan – yet his Test statistics in recent times provide additional evidence for those keen to argue his case.  

Indeed, his average of 75.9 across his 12 Test knocks since the start of 2019 is the best rate of any batsman to have 10 or more innings during that period. Better than Kohli, despite the India captain piling on the runs at home against South Africa, including a career-best 254 not out. Better even than Smith, whose Ashes heroics last year were so crucial in helping Australia retain the urn on English soil.  

He also sits above the same pairing when it comes to contributing for his team, providing an astonishing 22 per cent of Pakistan’s total Test runs over the period. There is clearly substance to the style now, a determined streak to go with the eye-catching technique.  

Ricky Ponting, the former Australia captain, tipped Babar to become one of the best in the world at the start of the year; he was a little late to get on board a bandwagon that now offers standing room only. 

"I think he is right up there already," Azhar Ali, Pakistan's Test skipper, said on the eve of the series opener with England at Old Trafford. 

"His performances have improved massively in Test matches over the last year or so. Firstly, he was performing really well in white-ball cricket and people thought he was only a white-ball player, but he took on that challenge and played with a lot of freedom and flair.” 

Babar's career totals do not stand up to the sheer volume scored by Kohli, Root, Smith and Williamson - at least not yet. Still, since 2018, he sits above the quartet in terms of Test average (65.5) and strike-rate (63.2 runs per 100 deliveries).

That stretch includes a memorable maiden hundred on home soil. While rain ruined the spectacle of the first Test played in Pakistan for over a decade, Babar brightened up the final day against Sri Lanka in Rawalpindi with an unbeaten 102 that delighted the crowd who had patiently waited to see their team return.  

Scores of 60 not out, 100 and 143 followed in the remainder of a truncated series, all from a player who did not reach three figures until his 17th Test. 

Prior to that breakthrough innings against New Zealand in November 2018, Babar had managed an unspectacular 822 runs at 30.4. Since then, though, there have been four more three-figure scores in 10 games, plus a 97 in a losing cause against Australia in Adelaide when no colleagues were willing to stick around in support. 

Pakistan are likely to lean on him heavily again in England, particularly as they come up against a team brimming with fast-bowling options and fresh off a 2-1 series victory over West Indies. 

Babar's development - including a highly productive Cricket World Cup campaign last year on English soil, as well as finishing top run-scorer in the T20 Blast while playing for Somerset - suggests he will relish the challenge.

The head-to-head battle with Root will be one of the main storylines, too. England's captain has much on his plate in the coming weeks, including fathoming out a way to nullify the brilliant Babar, who has stylishly climbed his way into the top tier of international batsmen.

Virat Kohli made his T20I debut against Zimbabwe in 2010 and scored his first T20I fifty against Sri Lanka in 2012. Kohli continued churning runs in T20s as he scored 185 runs, including two half-centuries in 5 matches at the 2012 ICC World Twenty20. For his excellent batting, Kohli was named in the ‘Team of the Tournament’ for the 2012 T20 World Cup.

In the next T20 World Cup in 2014, Kohli’s continued to be in top form and played what he considers his best T20 innings in the semi-final of the tournament. He scored 72 not out in 44 balls and helped India get into the final by reaching the target of 173 runs.

 

Career Statistics (2007–present)

Full name: Virat Kohli

Born: November 5, 1988, Delhi

Major teams: India, Delhi, India A, India Blue, India Emerging Players, India Red, India Under-19s, Indian Board President's XI, North Zone, Oil & Natural Gas Corporation, Rest of India, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Surrey

Playing role: Top-order batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm medium

 

T20I Career

Mat      Inns      NO Runs     HS  Ave       BF  SR  100       50       4s   6s   Ct   St

82  76  21  2794     94*       50.80   2021       138.24 0     24  258       76  41  0

 

T20 Career

Mat      Inns      NO Runs     HS  Ave       BF  SR  100       50       4s   6s   Ct   St

281       266       50  8900     113       41.20   6614       134.56 5     64  808       286       128       0

 

 

Career Highlights

  • Most runs all-time in T20Is, 2749, avg. 50.80
  • Player of the Tournament at the T20 WC in 2014 & 2016.
  • Most runs by an individual batsman at single T20 WC (319)
  • Most runs in IPL history (5412)
  • IPL player of the tournament & orange cap winner 2016 (record 973 runs)
  • 1st player to reach the 4000-run milestone in the IPL (2nd to 5000)
  • 82 T20I caps (3rd most for India)
  • 8900 T20 runs averaging 41.20
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