ESPNcricinfo picks its IPL 2023 team of the tournament, including an Impact Sub option (with two names in italics). The selections are based on the Smart Stats impact numbers, but keeping in mind the limit of four overseas players and overall team composition.
Faf du Plessis
Inns: 14, Runs: 730, SR: 153.68, Impact score: 59.38
Du Plessis was the MVP of IPL 2023 according to ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats, which gives a contextual rating to every batting and bowling performance. The standout aspect of du Plessis' season was his consistency: eight 50-plus scores, only one dismissal under 20, and a lowest score of 17. And he did all this without compromising on strike rate, going at 153.68 over the tournament, and 162 in the first ten balls of his innings.
His opening partnership with Virat Kohli was the batting combination of the tournament: the pair scored 939 runs for the first wicket, equalling the record for any pair in any IPL edition, after Kohli and AB de Villiers had also scored as many runs together in 2016. To add to that, du Plessis was outstanding in the field with his athleticism and agility, and led the team with calm authority.
Inns: 17, Runs: 890, SR: 157.80, Impact score: 56.85
You can't argue with a season that produced 890 runs and three hundreds. Gill's tournament was the stuff of dreams: seven times he passed 50, and in six of those innings his strike rate topped 160. In terms of impact numbers, his 60-ball 129 against Mumbai Indians was the second best in terms of batting impact points (164.45), next only to Yashasvi Jaiswal's century against the same opposition.
But while that hundred against Mumbai Indians in a knockout game was terrific, it was Gill's sheer consistency and all-round strokeplay - all done with artistry and elegance - that marked him out as a batter for the ages.
Mat: 10, Runs: 419, SR: 162.40; Wkts: 6, ER: 9.50, Impact score: 42.96
After a slow start to the tournament, Green came into his own with an unbeaten 64 off 40 balls against Sunrisers Hyderabad, and never looked back. In his last 12 innings, Green averaged 59.57 at a strike rate of 161.62, and was only once dismissed under 20. His bowling returns were underwhelming, but he more than made up for that with the bat. Five times he had an impact score of more than 50 in a game, and thrice more than 100.
Green's 161 runs in the powerplay were the most by a non-opener, while his strike rate of 175 in that phase was second-best among the 31 batters who faced more than 60 balls.
Inns: 16, Runs: 605, SR: 181.13, Impact score: 42.49
Like Green, Suryakumar had made a sluggish start to IPL 2023, scoring 16 runs in his first three innings, and 66 in his first five. But then he struck form and batted like only he can, and Mumbai Indians looked a completely different batting unit. In his last 11 innings, Suryakumar averaged 59.88 at a strike rate of 187.8, with six 50-plus scores, suggesting that normalcy had returned. Thanks to Green and Suryakumar, Mumbai were the only team whose Nos. 3 and 4 aggregated more than 1000 runs this season; they totalled 1195, with the next best being 921.
Inns: 11, Runs: 343, SR: 164.11, Impact score: 38.83
Mumbai had a patchy start with the bat this season, but the one batter who started and finished strong was Tilak. He began the tournament with a stunning unbeaten 46-ball 84 against Royal Challengers Bangalore, contributing 49% of the total from No. 5, and finished with a 14-ball 43 that threatened an imposing target of 234 in the second qualifier against Gujarat Titans. Had he not missed five games because of an injury in the second half of the tournament, those numbers might have looked even better.
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Heinrich Klaasen (wk)
Inns: 11, Runs: 448, SR: 177.07, Impact score: 48.01
Klaasen missed the first couple of games as he was on national duty, but made an immediate impact in the middle order for Sunrisers as soon as he came in. Batting at Nos. 4, 5 and 6 in T20s in India isn't easy, but Klaasen showed superb consistency and urgency. His lowest dismissed score in 11 innings was 17, and in eight of those innings he had a strike rate of over 150, including four over 200. No batter dominated spin as Klaasen did: he struck at a rate of 191.3, and an average of 132. Among the 40 batters who faced at least 75 balls of spin, no one did better.
Inns: 14, Runs: 474, SR: 149.52, Impact score: 30.58
Five sixes from five balls in the last over against Titans made Rinku a household name. But even outside of that, Rinku had a remarkable tournament: he passed 40 seven times in 14 innings, no mean feat for a batter in the lower half of the middle order. He couldn't always go at fifth gear from the start because of Kolkata Knight Riders' relatively weak top order - their top four had the lowest average among the ten teams - but despite that handicap, Rinku adapted wonderfully.
His last two innings were perfect examples of his impact: a 43-ball 54 in a tricky run chase in Chennai after KKR had slipped to 33 for 3, followed by an unbeaten 33-ball 67 which nearly pulled off a requirement of 41 from 12 balls.
Mat: 16, Runs: 190, SR: 142.85; Wkts: 20, ER: 7.56, Impact score: 44.92
Only three spinners took more wickets than Jadeja in the tournament. In the middle overs, though, Jadeja's 20 wickets were the joint highest with Piyush Chawla. He was the go-to spinner for MS Dhoni, especially in the favourable home conditions at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, where his 11 wickets came at an average of 16.45 and an economy rate of 6.7. With Maheesh Theekshana having a relatively disappointing run, Jadeja's four overs became even more crucial, and he delivered more often than not.
Jadeja was lethal against right-handers, dismissing them 12 times at an average of 16.91 and an economy rate of 6.65. Among the 66 bowlers who sent down at least 60 balls to right-handers, no-one had a better economy rate. Jadeja the batter had a relatively quiet tournament, but chipped in with crucial 20s, and the six and four he hit off the last two balls of the final was the difference between a fifth title and a sixth runners-up finish for CSK.
Mat: 17, Runs: 130, SR: 216.66; Wkts: 27, ER: 8.23, Impact score: 45.41
Rashid wasn't his usual thrifty self in IPL 2023. His economy rate of 8.23 was easily the poorest of his seven IPL seasons; he had never gone beyond 6.73 in his previous six. He twice conceded more than 40 runs in a game, including a forgettable final where he was hit for 44 in three overs. However, Rashid exchanged economy for wickets this time - his 27 wickets was much better than his previous best of 21, and he struck every 14.8 balls (previous best being 18.6).
He struggled in the powerplays - with figures of 2 for 114 in 12 overs - but relished the death-overs challenge, with 8 for 90 in ten overs. He was also more than handy with the bat, striking at over 200. Rashid's all-round performance in the league game against Mumbai - 4 for 30 and 79 not out off 32 balls - fetched 192 impact points, the second highest for any player in a match this season.
Inns: 17, Wkts: 28, ER: 8.03, Impact score: 42.73
Shami was the leading wicket-taker of the tournament, and an absolute terror in the powerplay. The 17 wickets he took in that phase - at an average of 19.41, and an economy of 7.5 - is the highest that any bowler has taken in the powerplays in any season in IPL history. His relentless hard lengths, seam movement and pace tested batters' techniques in a format where they are used to making room and hitting through the line.
Sixteen of Shami's 28 wickets were of top-three batters. According to Smart Stats, which takes into account the quality of batters dismissed as well as the match context, those 28 wickets were worth 34 Smart Wickets. Shami was a nightmare, especially for the right-handers, dismissing them 20 times at an average of 14.25.
Inns: 14, Wkts: 19, ER: 7.50, Impact score: 49.73
Eight bowlers took more wickets than Siraj, but in terms of Smart Wickets, he was ranked fourth, with his 19 wickets being worth 26. Like Shami, Siraj too was terrific in the powerplay: his ten wickets came at an average of 17.8, and an economy rate of 5.93. Among the 57 bowlers who delivered at least five overs in the powerplay, Siraj is the only one to concede fewer than a run a ball.
Siraj also has two entries among the top-six most impactful bowling performances this season: his 3 for 22 in a high-scoring match against Lucknow Super Giants - where they had chased down 213 - ranked second, while his 4 for 21 against Punjab Kings is sixth.
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Mohit Sharma Inns: 14, Wkts: 27, ER: 8.17, Impact score: 28.43
If Mumbai Indians dominate the batting line-up of this XII, then Titans have a stranglehold over the bowling, with their top three wicket-takers all finding a place. Mohit was one of the revelations of the tournament. His exceptional control over his length and pace made him an extremely difficult bowler to get away in middle overs, where he got 14 wickets at an economy rate of 8.07, as well as at the death, where he took 13 wickets at an economy of 8.10.
In a cruel twist of fate, Mohit ended up conceding ten runs off his last two balls of the tournament to concede the IPL to his former team. But that shouldn't overshadow what was a splendid tournament for him.
Those who narrowly missed out
Inns: 14, Runs: 625, SR: 163.61, Impact score: 52.28
In a tournament dominated by some standout performances by openers - six of them scored 590 or more runs, and all of them at strike rates greater than 139 - it was obvious that some of them would miss out. Jaiswal was probably the unluckiest of them. His 625 runs came at a tremendous strike rate, but he was third in terms of impact among all batters, behind the two most prolific openers of the season.
Inns: 14, Runs: 418, SR: 158.33, Impact score: 28.00
Dube had a wonderful tournament as a middle-order hitter, but he lost out to Tilak, another left-hander with slightly better numbers. Dube was terrific against spin, striking at 176.47 and hitting them for 22 sixes, the most by any batter in the tournament. Similarly, Ajinkya Rahane was in contention too, but lost out narrowly to Green.
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Inns: 16, Wkts: 22, ER: 8.17, Impact score: 41.10
Like Mohit, Chawla surprised most pundits with a stellar season and was in contention for the main spinner's slot, but Rashid pipped him to that spot with more wickets and crucial contributions with the bat.
Inns: 12, Wkts: 19, ER: 8.00, Impact score: 26.30
Not yet 21, Pathirana did the toughest job in T20 cricket - bowling in the death overs consistently in the biggest league - but he pulled it off, taking 18 wickets in that phase at an economy rate of 8.01. He lost out to a resurgent Mohit, but his time will surely come.
Mat: 14, Runs: 283, SR: 139.40; Wkts: 11, ER: 7.19, Impact score: 48.29
Axar had a slightly better overall impact than Jadeja, but Jadeja won the spin allrounder's slot on the basis of his better bowling numbers; his bowling impact was 37.79 compared to Axar's 28.18. So in a team which has Rinku at No. 7, it made sense to select the stronger bowler of the two (based on numbers from this tournament).