Indian Premier League 2017 XI of the Season

The curtains of IPL 2017 fell this Sunday midnight. Thanks to it, the fans watched some great cricket in the last six weeks. Mumbai Indians won the title for a record third time beating Rising Pune Supergiants in a nail-biting thriller. Rohit Sharma became the only captain to have led his team to the trophy thrice, leaving MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir (2 each) behind.

IPL 2017 appeared as a festival rather than a T20 tournament. It’s more because the way the organizers celebrated the 10th anniversary of this stunning league which brings the best international stars from around the world to team up with young Indian talents. The analysts say that the balanced teams achieve greater success than others in IPL.

Cricket is a team game. But in the shortest format, often a particular player grabs all the attention with monstrous batting efforts or maybe delivering a flurry of well-aimed yorkers. 4 overs of just one mystery spinner give his team an edge over the opponents, whereas a hard-hitting finisher can snatch the match away from ugliest of situations!

I attempted to assemble the best performers of IPL 2017. My ‘IPL XI of the Season’ fulfills every criteria to constitute an IPL playing XI. To maintain the rules of having at least one uncapped cricketer as well as maximum four foreigners, we had to skip some great players with good season statistics in this team unfortunately.

1. David Warner (Vice Captain)

Undoubtedly, he once again emerged as the best batsman of IPL this season. Leading Sunrisers Hyderabad from the front, he and Shikhar Dhawan built the innings of their team almost every game, opening the innings together. Warner ended the season with a whooping 641 runs from 14 matches. Also, he is joint-highest in the list of six-hitters with Glenn Maxwell, hitting the ball 26 times out of the park. With one sublime ton against Kolkata Knight Riders, and 4 fifties, he is perfect to open the innings for ‘IPL XI’.

Warner-IPL
David hits 43-ball-100 against KKR
2. Hashim Amla

Amla was unfortunate that he had to return midway this IPL to complete his national duties. But the 10 matches he played for Kings XI Punjab franchise, his performance was laudable. Amla is the only player to have hit two centuries this season. He stunned everyone with his knocks of 104 not out and 104 against Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Lions respectively. He notched up his tally to 420 runs in a striking average of 60.

Amla-IPL
Hashim Amla hit two centuries this IPL

This IPL was a treat for the opening batsmen, for the way they scored some fine knocks using the field restrictions adequately. Except these two, Shikhar Dhawan, Parthiv Patel, Sanju Samson, Ajinkya Rahane, Chris Lynn and the emerging talent Rahul Tripathi were the ones who impressed.

3. Gautam Gambhir (Captain)

The second highest run-getter of this season, the Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Gautam Gambhir once again displayed his exceptional strategies. Everyone was awestruck when he brought the star spinner Sunil Narine along to open the KKR innings versus Kings XI Punjab. Narine scored a quickfire 18-ball-37, followed by the fastest 15-ball-50 versus Royal Challengers Bangalore later on. Gambhir struck a total 61 fours this season to score 498 runs in 16 innings. He led his team to third position, before losing to Mumbai Indians in the second qualifier.

Gambhir-IPL
Gambhir was phenomenal with the bat
4. Suresh Raina

It was a disastrous season for him as a captain. The lack of vision from Gujarat Lions team management during the auction weakened their bowling lineup. The few number of matches that they won, fans should thank their batting. Raina scored 442 runs this season at a strike rate of 143.97 and an average of 40. He also recovered the top spot for highest total IPL runs from Virat Kohli.

Raina-IPL
Raina swings his bat en route to 84 versus KKR
5. Rishabh Pant (Wicket-Keeper)

In the modern era, a perfect wicket-keeper is one who keeps wicket efficiently and also score runs consistently. The 18-year old Roorkee boy smashed 28 fours and 24 sixes to score 366 runs from 14 innings in a majestic strike rate of 165! The best for him this season was the innings of 97 off just 56 balls he scored chasing 209 versus Gujarat Lions. He missed his maiden IPL ton by a whisker, but made sure Delhi Daredevils win the match with 15 balls to spare. He took 8 catches and did 3 stumping standing behind the wicket.

Pant-IPL
Pant smashed Gujarat Lions bowlers all over the park on way to 97

Some other notable middle-order batsmen who impressed are – Manish Pandey, Robin Uthappa, Kieron Pollard, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, Nitish Rana, Rohit Sharma and Manoj Tiwary.

6. Ben Stokes

The most valuable player of IPL 2017, Ben Stokes of England had been the star all-rounder of Rising Pune Supergiants this season. He was one of the reasons why RPSG surged a marvelous comeback from a bad start of the season. Making his IPL debut, Stokes scored 316 runs, took 12 wickets and grabbed 5 stupendous catches this season. Thanks to his maiden ton, RPSG saw its first victory over Gujarat Lions in 2 years. Due to international commitments, he missed the playoffs, which was definitely a huge setback for RPSG.

Stokes-IPL
Stokes was adjudged the MVP of IPL 2017
7. Krunal Pandya

The elder of the Pandya brothers, Krunal scored 243 runs and cracked 10 wickets in 13 games he played for Mumbai Indians. He was brilliant in the field too, specially creating some wonderful ‘caught Krunal bowled Hardik’ moments with his brother. What most mattered was the two brilliant knocks from him under pressure in the Qualifier 2 vs Kolkata Knight Riders and in the low-scoring final against Rising Pune Supergiants. Mumbai was tottering at 79/7, when Krunal started his fight with tail-ender Mitchell Johnson. Krunal ended at 47 runs off 38 balls, and Mumbai eventually won the match by 1 run!

Krunal-IPL
Krunal played two crucial knocks in knockout matches

The surprise package in the all-rounders’ list would be Sunil Narine this season. Glenn Maxwell, Axar Patel and Hardik Pandya also showed their worth with vigorous all-round skills.

8. Rashid Khan

When Sunrisers Hyderabad was going high for the rookie Afghanistan legbreak spinner Rashid in the bid, everyone was surprised a lot. The 18-year old created more surprise with the ball in hand this summer! He has scalped a total of 17 wickets in 14 matches giving only 6.62 runs per over. The best part of it was how the globally accomplished batsmen like Brendon McCullum, David Miller, Aaron Finch, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Gautam Gambhir struggled to his googlies. The 5th placeholder in ICC T20I ranking can undoubtedly be termed as ‘find of the season’!

Rashid-IPL
Rashid Khan celebrates the wicket of Aaron Finch

Spinners Imran Tahir, Pawan Negi and Axar Patel were in top form too this summer.

9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar

The UP right-arm medium pacer was holding the purple cap for his performance in 2016. He did not let it go this time too. Sublime in form from the start of the season, Kumar was able to scalp as many as 26 wickets in just 14 games. His bowling partners in Sunrisers Hyderabad changed from Ashish Nehra to Siddharth Kaul to Mohammad Siraj, but he went on to perform his duty consistently.

Bhuvneshwar-IPL
Bhuvneshwar keeps the Purple Cap yet again
10. Jaydev Unadkat

He had a great season for Kolkata Knight Riders long back in 2013. But he was lost after inconsistent performances in the shortest format. Once improved under the coaching of Wasim Akram, Unadkat made a strong comeback this season for the Rising Pune Supergiants. Captain Steve Smith kept belief in him, and Unadkat valued that faith accurately. After sitting in the bench for first four games, Unadkat replaced Ashok Dinda in the playing XI, and took 24 wickets in rest 12 matches.  He ended just second to Bhuvneshwar in the best bowlers’ list. He was acrobatic in the field too, having caught some splendid catches.

Unadkat-IPL
Unadkat impressed everyone with his brilliant comeback
11. Jasprit Bumrah

The current best Indian death bowler bowled a brilliant miser spell picking ferocious finisher MS Dhoni in the close final encounter to help his team Mumbai Indians clinch the trophy, winning the match by just 1 run. He has been dangerous this season in the final overs, pitching the yorkers repeatedly. 3rd in the ‘Purple Cap’ list, Bumrah ended the season with 20 wickets beside his name, and of course, the prestigious IPL 2017 trophy!

Bumrah-IPL
Bumrah has been the pick of death bowlers

Some other pacers who were dynamic with the ball in hand were Mitchell McClenaghan, Sandeep Sharma, Siddharth Kaul, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Woakes and Umesh Yadav.

12. Steve Smith (12th Man)

One of the best batsmen of current generation, Steve Smith was appointed captain of Rising Pune Supergiants early this year. The pressure was heavy on him as he replaced MS Dhoni, the most successful international captain in last 10 years. He took the charge of RPSG after losing a heated Test series versus India 2-1. RPSG did not have a great start this season, but they propelled on later so well that they qualified into playoffs as the second best team. Beating Mumbai Indians in the first qualifier, and restricting the same rivals to a low score in the final, Smith almost took his team to its maiden IPL title. Unfortunately, some brilliant bowling from Mumbai crashed their dreams as his 51-ball-50 also went in vein. Although he ended as the runner-up captain, he was definitely one of the exciting leaders this season!

Smith-IPL
Smith used the resources well for Rising Pune Supergiants

What changes would you like to do if you were the selector? Share your squads in the comments section below.

Nitish Rana: A Rare Talent

The Indian Premier League is almost 3 weeks old now, having completed its first 23 games. This season has appeared quite competitive, as every team has delivered some surprises, dismantling the opponents in certain matches. The star players proved again why they got the highest of bids in the auction. Even some expensive cricketers flopped, not being able to cope up with the Indian conditions in front of a large roaring crowd. Among all these incidents, one young Indian boy caught the attention of every IPL fan. The Mumbai Indians rookie Nitish Rana has been splendid this season with the bat in hand.

Domestic Career

The 23 year-old middle-order batsman Rana started his career for Delhi, his home team, at the age of 18. The left-hand attacking batsman has developed himself under the coaching of Sanjay Bhardwaj, in the same club with Gautam Gambhir. Gambhir, the present Delhi captain too has backed Rana a lot, before he joined the Mumbai Indians franchise.

Rana made his first-class and List A debut in the 2015-16 domestic season for Delhi. He was immensely successful in the long format as well as in the limited-over ones. After scoring most runs among any Delhi batsmen in the Ranji trophy, he was second to Unmukt Chand in highest run-getters list in the Vijay Hazare 50-overs tournament. When it came to the shortest format, i.e., Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 contest, Rana was the 7th best batsman in the nation with 299 runs in 7 games at a whooping strike rate of 175.88!

Rana Ranji
Rana in punishing mood for Delhi against Bengal

IPL Call-up

His success in domestic cricket hence resulted in his inclusion in the Mumbai Indians 2016 squad. He played just 4 matches that season, though he scored a brilliant 36-ball-70 in a lost affair with Gujarat Lions. But the meeting with coach Ricky Ponting transformed Rana’s mindset completely.

In the 2016-17 domestic season, Rana was controversially dropped from the Delhi squad, which resulted in a feud between Gambhir and the coach, KP Bhaskar. However, he set his target at the glamorous stage of IPL, in which he would be representing the same franchise as of last year.

All his hard work brought him great success, as he went on to score big knocks consistently in 5 out of 6 matches Mumbai Indians played till now. The tally reads:-

  • 34(28) vs Rising Pune Supergiants (1*4, 2*6)
  • 50(29) vs Kolkata Knight Riders (5*4, 3*6) [Man of the Match]
  • 45(36) vs Sunrisers Hyderabad (3*4, 2*6)
  • 11(16) vs Royal Challengers Bangalore (1*4)
  • 53(36) vs The Gujarat Lions (4*4, 2*6) [Man of the Match]
  • 62*(34) vs Kings XI Punjab (7*6)
Nitish has already hit 16 sixes this IPL

Before the game versus Delhi Daredevils tonight, Rana already has 255 runs beside his name this season. He is the second highest run-scorer till now this edition, and is running behind the ‘Orange Cap’ every game! Rana has hit 16 sixes this IPL, joint highest with Brendon McCullum currently.

Given his destructive form and his ability of hitting clean sixes, he may be considered for the national team selections soon. Before that, Rana needs to continue the demolition like what he’s doing these days.

Also, Rana did not forget to credit former Indian cricketer and the current mentor of the Mumbai Indians, Sachin Tendulkar, for his accomplishments.

SILENCE

Rohit Mondal

BOOK REVIEW: Half Girlfriend (Chetan Bhagat)

Well, I was left really disappointed and dejected with the novel “Half Girlfriend” by India’s best-selling author(marketing genius but content is not up to the mark) who is enjoying a cult status in India .

The story is yet another of those cliched-overdone themes. I cannot even call it romantic but a lame story of an illogical village bred boy “Madhav” and a city girl “Riya”. Mr. Chetan Bhagat has penned down an insincere and lame story in the form of “Half-Girlfriend” that has literally nothing new to offer to the readers. In fact, I believe this novel is better suited as a “Masala Bollywood movie” instead of a paperback fiction novel.

It is not that I do not like Chetan Bhagat and have a tendency to harshly defame his works like a well-acclaimed novel-critic. I loved reading his two novels, “Five Point Someone”(made into the super successful cult youth film- 3 Idiots) and Revolution 2020. To be honest, I started out reading novels only after reading Chetan Bhagat’s initial novels which catered to my interests because of the simple and relatable language and story in the novels. But with “Half-Girlfriend”, Mr. Bhagat has hit a big low in his literary prowess.

Chetan Bhagat is considered as the common man’s author in India but with “Half-Girlfriend” he has made a mockery of the common man’s sentiments as he has presented a story without a proper structure and devoid of logic and unrealistic cliched- portrayal of characters that cannot be justified with the “Common Man” tag.

I will rate “Half-Girlfriend “2 out of 5 stars” and recommend you to read it if and only if you have nothing good to do in life and want to kill some time. I hope Chetan Bhagat will improve upon the story line of his upcoming novels in the future and justify himself as the “cult-status-common man’s author” in India.

Rohit Mondal

BOOK REVIEW: A Thing Beyond Forever

So to be honest, “A Thing Beyond Forever” by Novoneel Chakroborty is a quite matured piece of literary work and does not actually seem to be his debut novel. I was really impressed with Novoneel’s style of writing, English vocabulary and his flow of words after reading the novel .

Actually, after reading the “Prologue”-first chapter in the novel, I was literally blown away by the creative portrayal of the delicate human emotions with the use of clever Metaphors, similes and poetic style. However, one thing that I must honestly admit is that Novoneel has put in a lot of effort and used a lot of English vocabulary words in the first chapter of his debut novel which were hard to comprehend for me . But as the novel progressed, the words used in the novel became simpler and easier to comprehend.

The book revolves around the character of “Radhika”- a young, hard-working doctor who goes through some bizarre series of incidents that lead her to her first love in a fantasy re-birth scenario. However, please do not mistake this novel to be one of those cliched chick-lit romance fictions. Instead, this novel asks deeper,philosophical questions about true love, trust, suffering, emotions, re-birth, life & death and makes us contemplate hard on these metaphysical, spiritual aspects of life.

The book asks a lot of questions and allows the reader to interpret the answers to them and actually affects our mind and its perceptions related to life. I believe any novel that can have a deep impact on our perceptions and thinking is bound to be called a “Good Novel”. Kudos to Novoneel Chakroborty for writing such a well-crafted novel that provokes our thoughts and makes us ponder.

I will urge all the bibliophiles out there to try this novel and will rate “A Thing Beyond Forever” 4 out of 5 stars. Also try Novoneel’s other works especially “The Stranger Triology” and “Ex” which are fast paced psychological thrillers that leave the readers captivated.

Rohit Mondal

অজুহাত

হাজার অভিমানেও মুখ ফেরাতে পারিনি কোনোদিন,
তোর এক ডাকে ছুটে গেছে সবসময় তোর কাছে, এড়াতে পারিনি তোর কথা কোনো অজুহাতে।।
হাজারো কাজের মাঝে ওই চোখ খুঁজে গেছে তোকে..
এক পলকে, এক বার, এক ঝলকে খুঁজেছে তোকে।।
বার বার বুঝিয়েছে না! এ ভুল এ কল্পনা, তবু কল্পনাকে ছুঁতে চেয়েছে বারবার, ব্যর্থ অজুহাতে।।
হুড়মুড়িয়ে পড়েছে মাটিতে তবু প্রতীক্ষা করে গেছে তোর,
ভেবেছে এই বুঝি তুই আসবি পাশে হাতটি রেখে হাতে….
প্রতিবারই সে ব্যর্থ হয়েছে মিথ্যে অজুহাতে।।
যখনই কোনো নতুন কিছু পেয়েছি, জেনেছি নতুন কিছু, আর প্রতিবার তাই খুঁজেছি তোকে,
চেয়েছি বলতে তোকে ,
অজুহাতে তুই দিয়েছিস ঠেলে অনেক অনেক দূরে,
অভিমানে আজ গুটিয়ে নিয়েছি নিজের মতনকরে।।
ভেবে ছিলাম তুই বুঝিস আমায় হয়তো বা বুঝবি কোনো দিনও…
কিন্তু না…. তাচ্ছিল্যের হাসি হেসেছিস তুই… ব্যর্থ তাই এবারও।।
অজুহাতে অজুহাতে দিয়েছিস ঠেলে অনেক অনেক দূরে..
তবু আশা ছিলো কোনো দিন জায়গা নেব তোর মনে, ছোট্ট বন্ধু হয়ে……
কিন্তু এবারও আমি ব্যর্থ প্রতিবারের মত ব্যর্থ, মিথ্যে অজুহাতে।।

(অনুশ্রী কর)

হাত সাফাই

খসখস ঝুড়ঝুড় খসখস…….

আচমকা এক আওয়াজে ঘুমটা একটু পাতলা হয়ে উঠলো আমার, সাথেই বড়ো ঘরের দেওয়াল ঘড়িটা ঢং ঢং করে ৪টে আওয়াজ করে উঠলো। এপাশ ওপাশ করেও ঘুমটা আসছিলোনা কিছুতে। হঠাৎ এক আচমকা আওয়াজ কানে এলো খসখস খসখস বেশ কিছুটা সময় ধরেই আওয়াজটা কানে আসছিল। শীতের রাত ভোর হতে এখনো ১ ঘন্টা, এখন এই আওয়াজ টা কিসের সেটা ভাবতে ভাবতে বেশ ভয় লাগছিলো মনে।

এই শীতের রাতেই তো চোরছেচড় দের উপদ্রব হয়, বাড়িতে কোনো চোর ঢুকলো নাতো! আগেই এই খেয়াল টা এলো মাথায়। ক্রমাগত আওয়াজটা খুব কাছে আসতে লাগলো, আর বুকের ভেতরটা ততো দুরুদুরু করে উঠলো। বাড়িতে ছেলে বলতে এখন বাবা, দাদা বৌদি কেউ নেই হঠাৎ একি উপদ্রব শুরু হলো।

বাবা মা নিশ্চিন্ত মনে ঘুমোচ্ছে, কদিন খাটাখাটনির পর তারা খুব ক্লান্ত। মনে মনে ভাবলাম একবার ডাকি ওদের যদি কোনো চোর বাড়িতে আসে আমি কি পারবো ওদের সাথে যুঝতে? কতোটুকুই বা ক্ষমতা আমার, কিন্তু মায়া হলো তাই খুব সন্তর্পণে ধীরে ধীরে বিছানা ছেড়ে নামলাম আলো না জ্বালিয়েই, খুব আস্তে করে দরজাটা খুলে বাইরে এলাম। চারিদিকে ঘন অন্ধকার রাস্তার আলোগুলো আজ জ্বলছেনা। চারিদিক নিস্তব্ধ, যে আওয়াজটা আসছিল সেটা হঠাৎ করে মিলিয়ে গেল আপনা থেকেই, মনে হলো যেন কেউ বুঝতে পেরেছে আমি সজাগ হয়ে গেছি। বড়ো ঘরের ঘড়িটায় ঢং করে ৪.৩০টে বাজার জানান দিলো। আর তার সাথেই ভেসে এলো “আল্লা হুঁ আকবর” এর সুর।

আবার গিয়ে শুয়ে পড়লাম বাবা মার পাশে। সকাল এর আলো ফুটতেই আমি গোটা বাড়িটা তন্নতন্ন করে দেখলাম এঘর ওঘর গোটা বাড়ি, কই না তো কিছু তো missing নেই তবে? তবে ওটা কিসের আওয়াজ ছিলো! সারাটাদিন মাথায় ঘুরপাক খেতে লাগলো ওই অজানা আওয়াজটা। দিন পেরিয়ে রাত হয়ে গেল আবার খেয়ে ঘুমানোর পালা। ততক্ষণে ভোররাতের ঘটনাটা মাথা থেকে বেরিয়ে গেছে।

খসখস ঝুরঝুর খসখস……..
ওই, ওই আবার সেই শব্দ বড়ো ঘরের ঘড়িটা কাটায় কাটায় ৪টের ঘন্টা দিলো।
নাহ…. আজ আর ভয় পেলে চলবে না, আজ আমাকে জানতেই হবে কিসের আওয়াজ এটা, কম্বলটা খুলে আবার খুব সন্তর্পণে বেরিয়ে পড়লাম ঘর থেকে এখনো সেই আওয়াজ, আজও রাস্তার ল্যাম্পপোস্ট এর আলো গুলো বন্ধ। তবু আমাকে জানতেই হবে কিসের আওয়াজ এটা। তাই আজ ফোনটা নিয়েই বেরিয়েছি। সেই খসখস আওয়াজটা এবার খুব কাছে এসে গেছে। ফোন এর টর্চটা জ্বালিয়ে বারান্দায় বেরোলাম কিন্তু কই! কেউ তো নেই এখানে তবে এই আওয়াজটা কিসের কোথা থেকে আসছে কে আছে!

রাস্তার দিকে টর্চ-এর আলোটা ফেলতেই চোখে পড়লো রামু কাকু রাস্তা পরিষ্কার করতে করতে এগিয়ে বাড়ির পাশের গলিটার দিকে চলে গেল আর তার সঙ্গে বড়ো ঘরের ঘড়িটায় ঢং করে ৪.৩০টে বেজে উঠলো, আর তার সাথে আজান-এর সুর ভেসে এলো দূরের মসজিদটা থেকে।।

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