The 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is all set to be played in the United Arab Emirates from the 19th of September. With the tournament being the first top-level cricket that most players are going to experience in months, a degree of rust and a lack of fitness can be expected in the first few games.
Best 35+ playing XI in the 2020 IPL
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A section of cricketers that will be particularly affected is the 35+ age category. Despite their advancing age, however, the cricketers in this article are expected to be at their best in the upcoming IPL, owing to their commitment and keen understanding of their own limitations.
Here is the best playing XI that can be formed considering cricketers aged 35 and above in IPL 2022.
Note: The rule that limits the number of foreigners in a team to 4 has been followed. Due to the absence of Indian bowlers in this age group, the likes of Chris Gayle and Shane Watson, who would be shoo-ins in the absence of such a restriction, miss out.
Openers: Parthiv Patel, Wriddhiman Saha
Two diminutive wicket-keepers open the batting in this XI. Parthiv Patel and Wriddhiman Saha are both 35 years of age, and will play for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) respectively in the 2020 IPL.
Patel has been a regular at the top of the order in the IPL, while Saha scored a fluent hundred against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the 2014 final. Both players will be crucial to their team's fortunes.
Middle Order: AB de Villiers, MS Dhoni (c&wk), Dinesh Karthik
RCB talisman AB de Villiers will bat at No. 3 in this team. The South African was in splendid form in the recent Solidarity Cup, which his team won, and looks to be in good touch as his team attempts to win the IPL title for the first time. De Villiers is 36 years old, but is as fit and fluent as ever.
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) skipper MS Dhoni is the captain and wicket-keeper of this XI. The former Indian captain finished as the Men in Yellow's leading run-scorer in the 2019 IPL, and the 39-year-old's return to the cricket field after over a year is one of the main things to watch out for this season.
KKR captain Dinesh Karthik has led his team admirably so far, and makes this team owing to his inventive strokeplay and excellent fielding. With a youthful and balanced side at his disposal, the 35-year-old will look to be the second KKR captain to bring a title home to the Eden Gardens.
All-rounders: Kedar Jadhav, Dwayne Bravo
The CSK duo of Kedar Jadhav and Dwayne Bravo make it into this side as the all-rounders.
While the former has struggled with injuries and the latter has not been at his best in recent years, both of them are match-winners who are trusted implicitly by captain MS Dhoni, and will play key roles for the 3-time IPL champions in the 2020 edition.
Jadhav and Bravo are 35 and 36 years old respectively, and are fast approaching the twilight of their careers.
Fast bowlers: Dale Steyn, Lasith Malinga
With both players might not be in the first-choice playing XI owing to the purchases of Chris Morris and Trent Boult respectively, their experience and skill will make them valuable additions to any team they are part of.
Steyn and Malinga are 37 and 36 years old respectively, and don't play all formats for the countries anymore. However, they are true champions and can be called upon at any time in IPL 2020.
Spinners: Amit Mishra, Harbhajan Singh
Indian spin veterans Amit Mishra and Harbhajan Singh take the final two spots in this XI.
The 37-year-old leggie is part of an strong Delhi Capitals spin bowling attack that features the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel. The second-highest wicket-taker in the history of the IPL will be a handful on the friendly UAE pitches, and his team could go a long way in the tournament.
Harbhajan Singh, on the other hand, has been a shrewd acquisition by CSK, and has excelled at Chepauk. Although the likelihood of the 40-year-old playing all games for MS Dhoni's side has been reduced by Piyush Chawla's arrival, he could be a handful in the UAE with his extensive experience.
12th Man: Chris Gayle
Chris Gayle is one of the greatest players in the history of the IPL, with almost 4,500 runs and 6 centuries under his belt. However, he doesn't make this team owing to the foreigners restriction.
While putting the West Indian as the 12th man is not a great idea given his lack of sprightliness on the field, he is a bonafide match-winner and will be crucial to KXIP's fortunes in the 2020 IPL.