Whether it is while pulling Ishant Sharma for three fours in an over or his handling of the likes of Anil Kumble and Muttiah Muralitharan,Tendulkar has continued his dream-run with the bat this year into the IPL. While continuing to resist the innumerable calls for him to make a return to the T20 fold for India,Tendulkar has aptly demonstrated what the national team is missing out on and is second only to Jacques Kallis in the run-getters tally.
In addition to his splendid form with the bat 423 runs from 10 innings at 47 Tendulkar has also been his ebullient self while captaining Mumbai Indians to the top of the table. And he could well be the leading contender to captain this shadow XI.
For anyone who saw him bat during the first few games of IPL III,finding the former Indian captains name among the highest run-getters of the tournament will certainly be as startling as his awful struggles at the crease early on. But true to his nature,Ganguly has risen from the mire to yet again silence his detractors by amassing 333 runs with three half-centuries at the top of the order for KKR,while being at his murderous best against spinners like his assault against Pragyan Ojha.
Faced with the arduous task of holding his own while opening the batting for Chennai alongside the colossal Matthew Hayden,the right-handed Tamil Nadu opener has in fact out-scored his senior partner. Though Yusuf Pathans 37-ball century has been the fastest so far in the IPL,Vijays 56-ball 127 against Rajasthan Royals has been the most brutal innings of the tournament. He has smashed 20 sixes in IPL III second only to Yusufs 23.
While Chennai went onto set a monumental target of 247 led by Vijays effort Rajasthan actually came close to overhauling it,thanks largely to Ojhas unbeaten 55-ball 94. The wicket-keeper batsman has been the mainstay for the Royals at the top of the order and has enhanced his reputation as an attacking stroke-maker. Though all the focus in the Rajasthan batting has been on Yusuf,Ojha has scored the most runs with 352. He has also been adequate while keeping wickets to the likes of Shaun Tait and Shane Warne.
The young left-hander has been one of the biggest finds of the IPL this season,having propped up the Mumbai Indians middle-order in the company of Ambati Rayudu. Looked adept at handling both pace and spin including a couple of straight sixes off Shane Warne and has also held his nerve commendably to take his team home in a couple of tense run-chases. Tiwary has scored 268 runs from 10 games so far with two half-tons.
In a team studded with the whos who of T20 cricket Jacques Kallis,Ross Taylor and Cameron White to name a few Kohli has created his own niche in Bangalore Royal Challengerss middle-order. Although the domestic focus has been on team mates Manish Pandey (214 runs at 26.75) and Robin Uthappa (234 at 29.25) who have had the limelight fixed on them Kohli has averaged a healthier 34.85 runs/innings,with 244 runs in this edition of the IPL so far.
With an uncanny knack of breaking partnerships,Ojha has almost single-handedly kept the Deccan Chargers in the reckoning for a semi-final spot. Shouldering the burden of the bowling attack,the left-arm spinner has responded in style by becoming the highest wicket-taker in the current IPL season with 15 scalps,four more than any Indian bowler selected for the World T20 Championships.
Foxing the best in the business,Mishras googly has been unreadable,especially troubling the left-handers (ask Sourav Ganguly). Although Ganguly threw the kitchen sink at the Delhi bowlers in his last match,Mishra was the only one to really trouble the Kolkata skipper squaring him up regularly with the wrong-un. Apart from containing the flow of runs to near perfection with a stunning economy rate of 7.28 Mishra is also the second-highest wicket-taker with 14 dismissals for Delhi.
With the best economy rate of this season (an unbelievable 6.30),one would find it hard to believe that the Bangalore skipper is into his second year of international retirement. The nine wickets in ten matches against his name in IPL III is only the tip of the iceberg,as the 20-year experience he brings into the side is worth its weight in gold.
Irfan Pathan almost automatically chooses himself due to his abilities with the bat,proving worthy of his all-rounder tag for bottom placed Kings XI Punjab. He is the highest wicket-taker for the team with 11 wickets,which is the same as Zaheer Khan and Vinay Kumar and three scalps more than Praveen Kumar the quicks in the World T20 side. Irfan has scored 219 runs at an average of 31.28,more than Punjab team mate Yuvraj (213).
The only weak link in the shadow XI lies in the selection of its final pacer,which is a toss-up between Rajasthans Siddharth Trivedi and Deccans RP Singh. Trivedi (8 wickets in as many matches) has shot into contention,while RP Singh has also been among the wickets with 9 from 8 appearances.