Trinbago Knight Riders outplayed every other team for 12 consecutive games to lift their fourth title on Thursday. A tournament that marked the return of league cricket post the Covid-19 break, CPL 2020 did lag behind the previous seasons in terms of quality of cricket; a large part was played by the substandard pitches and unavailability of major foreign recruits. Amidst all that, we saw two teams in the finals, one proving to be invincible and the other performing way above expectations to reach their first ever knockouts.
With the eighth edition of the CPL over, we look at the best possible playing XI from the tournament:
Glenn Phillips (WK)
One of the bright spots in an otherwise dismal batting display for the Jamaica Tallawahs this season, Philipps scored 316 runs at an average of 35.11 and a strike rate of 127.42. His average of 31.60 runs per innings is the second-highest this season. Philipps walks into the side as the opener as well as the wicket-keeper, thanks to his consistency throughout the tournament.
The highest run-getter this season, Lendl Simmons walking into this side is a no-brainer, but if someone would have said the same at the halfway stage of the tournament, it would have been debatable. Having below-par returns in the first half, Simmons peaked just at the right time and ended the tournament with two consecutive unbeaten half-centuries. The Trinbago opener scored 352 runs at an average of 35.22. The Player of the Match in the finals, Simmons was backed by his skipper despite having poor returns in the initial stages, which proved to be vital in the most important game of the season.
The biggest dilemma for a spot between two players is for the number 3 slot between Colin Munro and Shimron Hetmyer. Though both have similar numbers in terms of batting average, Hetmyer pips Munro because of the fact that he more often than not played a lone hand for his team when the openers collapsed for almost nothing. While Munro also faced similar situations, but he got support from the middle order, which is not quite the case with Hetmyer. Hetmyer scored a total of 287 runs at an average of 33.98 and a strike rate of 125.94. The Guyana Amazon Warriors batsman scored 3 fifties throughout the season with the best score of 71*.
Not considered by many as a decent T20 batsman, Darren Bravo pipped rather fancier names like Pooran and Hetmyer to earn a place in this XI, thanks to his amazing consistency throughout. Bravo served as the calm between the storms named Munro and Pollard for TKR and when he managed to stay till the end, he didn’t shy away from taking on the bowlers. Bravo scored 297 runs at a staggering average of 59.4 and finished as the third highest run getter of the season.
Kieron Pollard (C)
Man of the tournament for his magnificent show both with the bat and the ball, the Trinbago Knight Riders skipper lit the tournament in all ways possible; be it his power-hitting, slower balls and cutters while bowling or his shrewd captaincy. There was no way the winning skipper was not going to make it to this XI. Pollard aggregated 207 runs at an average of 51.75 and a strike rate of 204.95. His 29.57 runs per innings is the fourth-best this season. His 72 off 28 balls against the Tridents from a virtually unwinnable situation made his team gave his side an almost invincible feel. With the ball, Pollard picked 8 wickets, including a 4-fer in the final.
The Barbados Tridents skipper had a horrible season as a captain, but he was on song with both the bat and the ball. Holder aggregated 192 runs at an average of 21.33 and a strike rate of 140.15, which includes a match-winning 69 in their last league match. With the ball he picked atleast 1 wicket in the Powerplays every game, barring a couple. His 10 wickets coming at an economy of 6.64 is enough for him to walk into this side.
Afghanistan all-rounder was one of the key reasons why St Lucia Zouks qualified for the semifinals for the first time ever. Nabi excelled with the ball in the powerplays and played decent knocks with the bat coming in in the later stages of an innings. Though his form tapered off towards the end of the season, Nabi had done enough to secure a place in this XI. He aggregated 156 runs at an average of 19.5, which included crucial runs at the death in a couple of games. With 12 wickets, Nabi stands joint-fifth in the wicket-takers list including a five-wicket haul.
The St Kitts and Nevis Patriots skipper was consistent throughout the tournament, but never got the limelight as his team failed to impress in most games this season. Emrit finished with 11 wickets from 10 games, bowling mostly in middle and death overs. His economy of 5.97 makes him a valuable asset for the side, especially for his death bowling. Moreover, his knack of picking crucial wickets earns him a spot in the XI, ahead of the likes of Dwayne Bravo and Naveen ul Haq.
The highest wicket-taker of the season and St Lucia Zouks’ Scott Kuggeleijn was consistent throughout the tournament and rarely went wicketless. Coming in as a replacement, Kuggeleijn picked 17 wickets at 1.54 wickets per innings while bowling the crucial overs in the powerplays as well as death. Not only that, but he was also Sammy’s go-to bowler whenever he needed wickets and Kuggeleijn delivered more often than not. Unarguably he was the best pacer in the tournament and walks into this side as the first-choice pace bowler.
The wrist-spinner from Nepal, Sandeep Lamicchane was pretty impressive this season, bowling most of his overs in the middle overs. Except for the semi-finals against TKR, Sandeep picked at least 1 wicket in every game. Picking 1.20 wickets per innings on average, Sandeep maintained an impressive economy of 5.28. He walks into the side as the lone wrist-spinner. Though there were more experienced campaigners like Tahir and Rashid Khan, Lamichhane’s consistency stood out.
Mujeeb Ur Rehman
Quite unfortunate to end up with just 3 wins, the second-highest wicket-taker of the season Mujeeb is a certainty in this side. Bowling a couple of overs in the Powerplays and a couple in the middle, Mujeeb kept chipping in with wickets and was one of the key reasons why Jamaica reached the semi-finals. Having 16 wickets from 11 games, Mujeeb maintained an economy of 5.29 and picked a wicket every 15.38 balls.
Colin Munro, Shimron Hetmyer and Kyle Mayers were in for the number 3 spit, but Hetmyer’s consistency along with his match-winning contributions in games where the openers failed makes him a better choice. The same goes for Pollard, Bravo, Pooran, Chase and Russell, who were in contention for the number 4 and 5 slots. The consistency of Bravo and Pollard is unmatched by any other option.
The toss-up between Dwayne Bravo, Kesrick Williams, Rayad Emrit and Naveen ul Haq for the death bowling option ended up with Emrit taking the spot, thanks to his superb economy and the knack of being amongst wickets.
Imran Tahir, Akeal Hossain, Chris Green, Rashid Khan and Fawad Ahmed narrowly missed out the spots for the two spinners. Not often you see Rashid Khan not walking into the team of the tournament, but this is how it goes. Mujeeb and Lamicchane have been able to maintain pressure better than anyone else.