During the last edition of IPL, I had prepared a team of grizzled, battle-hardened veterans. And inspired by the movie franchisee had named it as the IPL Expendables XI. And having started it have decided to compile a similar list this year.
The list had to undergo a major revamp as lots of the Expendables cast have finally hung up their boots. Though some of them are have taken non-combat roles in different teams (like the Mickey Rourke character in the first Expendables movie). With fresh auctions held this year, only 3 of last year's XI have survived. Sachin, Ponting, Dravid, Gilchrist & Agarkar have all retired. Hogg & Badrinath have not been picked while Sourav Ganguly is now showing signs of permanent retirement. Only Tambe, Murali and Shukla have survived into this edition.
This year's list was tougher to make and so I had to make a few concessions defining a veteran (but then Jason Statham is a key cast member of the Expendables and he is still in his prime). Sticking to the IPLpolicy of maximum 4 foreign players in the Eleven made it just that bit more difficult.
- Michael Hussey - Mr. Cricket is the perfect person to open the batting for this veteran's lineup. This year has been picked by Mumbai Indians who do like having seniors playing and opening for them.
- Virender Sehwag - The man who destroyed many a bowling attack but now is a pale shadow of his former self. Coming off a very poor Ranji season but got a century for MCC. Lets see if any of the fire is still left.
- Jacques Kallis - Statistically the greatest all-rounder of all time. Recently retired from test cricket but is available for selection in the limited overs setup where South Africa do not pick him. Has been the goto man for his all round skills for all Fantasy Leaguers.
- Brad Hodge - After years of being ignored he has made a comeback into the Australian national T20 squad. Also has scored the most runs ever in the T20 format.
- MS Dhoni (c & wk) - With Gilchrist having retired and Sangakkara not being picked, the choice of a veteran wicket keeper for the Expendables was very difficult. But given how much Dhoni has greyed over the years, he looks perfect for this team.
- Laxmi Ratan Shukla - Retains his spot from last year. Still plays Ranji and still plays the occasional IPL game though hasn't played for India this millenium.
- Muttiah Muralitharan - he retired from international cricket around the time IPL started. And in the seventh edition, he is still around. Though this might turn out to be one season to many for the highest wicket-taker in test cricket.
- Murali Kartik - One of the mysteries of Indian team selection has been the way they have handled left-arm spinners. Last time he played for India picked up a 6-wicket haul against Australia but never got picked again. English counties though love him and he is the only Indian to have played for a non-IPL team in the Champions League.
- Ashish Nehra - Last act in international cricket was getting a finger broken while attempting a diving catch in the World Cup semi-finals against Pakistan. Still hanging around the domestic circuit. Outscored Sehwag during the last Ranji season.
- Laxmipathy Balaji - The smiling assassin. Destroyed and bowler over Pakistan but injuries ruined a potentially great Indian career. However IPL has helped him make a couple of comebacks into the national team.
- Pravin Tambe - Made his first appearance in senior cricket in last year's IPL at the young age of 42. A decent IPL followed by a great Champions League and Tambe was made his first clss debut for Mumbai as well. A story of never giving up on the dreams.
There were a few other contenders (likes of Ryan ten Doeschate, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan etc.) but they may have to wait a season or two to make an appearance in the Expendables starcast. Not as populated with big names as last year but this team certainly won't be pushovers.