MS Dhoni in Sunil Gavaskar's 2016 IPL Dream XI, No Place For Rohit Sharma
Former Indian skipper Sunil Gavaskar has included Mahendra Singh Dhoni in his Dream IPL XI despite India's limited-overs skipper not performing up to the mark for his team Rising Pune Supergiants.
Despite his below par performance in the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League, legendary Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar still picked Mahendra Singh Dhoni in his 2016 IPL Dream XI ahead of many other wicket-keepers who performed well in the tournament.
Dhoni, who led debutants Rising Pune Supergiants', finished in seventh position and for the first time, the Indian limited-overs skipper failed to feature in an IPL play-off. However, Dhoni featured in Gavaskar's Dream XI as the former India opener feels the Ranchi-born still is India's No.1 stumper and thus retains his place in a team that has David Warner, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Yuzvendra Chahal.
Incidentally, Gavaskar did not select Rohit Sharma, who has led the Mumbai Indians to two IPL titles in the past. Rohit scored 489 runs in 14 innings with an average of above 44 and a top score of 85 not out. He hit as many as five half-centuries which were instrumental in many of Mumbai Indians' victories but still did not qualify for selection in Gavaskar's team.
Dhoni, who has led the Chennai Super Kings to two IPL titles previously, failed to find success as the team was plagued by injuries to key players.
Apart from Dhoni's exploits in RPS' last match where he smashed 23 off the last six balls bowled by Axar Patel against Kings XI Punjab, Dhoni could not live up to his reputation as a big-hitter on a consistent basis. He scored 284 runs in 12 innings with a high of 64 not out. He averaged just above 40 with only one fifty with a strike-rate of 135.
Gavaskar's Dream XI featured four players from Sunrisers Hyderabad, three from Royal Challengers Bangalore and two each from Rising Pune Supergiants and Kolkata Knight Riders. Almost the entire bowling line-up in his dream team is from Sunrisers Hyderabad apart from Yuzuvendra Chahal. He also picked two all-rounders - Andre Russell and Yusuf Pathan - both from Kolkata Knight Riders.
The 66-year-old heaped high praise on RCB spinner Chahal.
" Yuzvendra Chahal has shown tremendous temperament. He is not afraid of tossing up the ball and he kept on doing that," Gavaskar told NDTV.
"I am considering those who have temperament and not just talent. Chahal, Rishabh Pant and Krunal Pandya are the top three. I will pick Chahal at the top as he has got the right temperament."
Chahal, 25, took 21 wickets from 13 matches to finish as the second highest wicket-taker behind Sunrisers Hyderabad pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar's 23 from 17 games in IPL-9.
"When there is some turn on the pitch, there have to be big edges from the batsmen's bat. Chahal also has a big heart and is not afraid of a big hit. On many occasions, he came back after being hit for sixes to claim wickets," added the Mumbaikar.
He identified Mumbai Indians all-rounder Krunal Pandya and Rishabh Pant of Delhi Daredevils as two future talents.
"Krunal Pandya of Mumbai Indians was impressive. He had the temperament to fight with bat and ball. They have also done well in the tournament though they need some improvement. But Chahal is my top pick as he has been the most consistent," concluded Gavaskar.
Pant scored 198 runs in 10 matches for Delhi Daredevils while Krunal Pandya hit 237 runs in 12 matches and took six wickets for Mumbai Indians.
Former India opener Aakash Chopra agreed with Gavaskar's choices.
"Rishabh Pant of Delhi Daredevils has the ability to play quality bowling. He has to improve his wicket-keeping. He is an exciting prospect," Chopra told NDTV.
Sunil Gavaskar's IPL 2016 Dream XI: David Warner, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Yusuf Pathan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Andre Russell, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mustafizur Rahman, Ashish Nehra.
Aakash Chopra's IPL 2016 Dream XI: David Warner, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, AB de Villiers, Lokesh Rahul, Yusuf Pathan, Krunal Pandya, Chris Morris, Mustafizur Rahman, Amit Mishra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.