IPL 2016: Best XI from Week 3 of Indian Premier League
The Indian Premier League season is a marathon, not a sprint.
While new franchise Gujarat Lions sits proudly on top the table, only four points separate the top five sides in the standings.
But with so many games still to play, every team is still in the hunt to make the next stage of the competition. Yes, even you, Kings XI Punjab.
With Week 3 of the campaign now done and dusted, Bleacher Report has held a selection meeting to decide the best XI from the last seven days.
Please note: Players have been selected for producing impressive performances over the past week, not necessarily the entire campaign. This is not just a team of the tournament to date.
1. Rohit Sharma
Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma started his IPL week with a two-ball duck against Kings XI Punjab.
He finished it with an unbeaten 85 on Sunday to steer his side to an eight-wicket win over Rising Pune Supergiants, a result that lifts Mumbai up to second in the table.
In between those two knocks, Rohit made 68 not out against Kolkata Knight Riders.
Back-to-back half-centuries have carried the right-handed opener to 383 runs for the 2016 edition of the tournament. Only David Warner (more on him to come) has scored more.
2. David Warner
Like his opening partner, Sharma, Warner has experienced the highs and lows of Twenty20 cricket over the past week.
The Sunrisers Hyderabad batsman started off with a rare failure, making a duck against Rising Pune Supergiants in a rain-hit match on Tuesday.
However, Australian Warner bounced back in style on Sunday.
The left-hander hammered 92 from 50 deliveries against Royal Challengers Bangalore, taking his tally for the IPL season to 386 runs. He's also hit the most sixes (17).
3. Steven Smith
After an unspectacular start to life with the Rising Pune Supergiants, Steven Smith has burst into life over the course of the last week.
The Australian registered his maiden Twenty20 century on Friday, although his fine knock of 101 still wasn't enough to see his side beat table-topping Gujarat Lions.
Smith sandwiched his hundred with scores of 46 not out and 41, helping him move into the top 10 run-scorers in the competition in 2016, per IPL's official website.
However, the right-handed batsman won't be appearing in this XI again. Per ESPNcricinfo, Smith's IPL season is now over due to a wrist injury.
4. Ambati Rayudu
Ambati Rayudu continues to be a consistent scorer in Mumbai's middle order.
The right-hander—who has played 31 one-day games and three T20 fixtures for India—made scores of 65, 32 and 22 in Mumbai's three matches over the past week.
Rayudu has now batted eight times this season, amassing 271 runs with a lowest score of 20.
In a high-powered Indians side that boasts plenty of star quality, led by captain Sharma, the reliable Rayudu has been happy to quietly go about his job.
5. Dwayne Smith
Having patiently waited for his chance with the Gujarat Lions, Dwayne Smith has now hit 163 runs in four knocks this season.
The West Indian made back-to-back half-centuries against Delhi Daredevils and Rising Pune Supergiants to help his franchise continue to set the pace at the top of the table.
He did only make 15 against Kings XI Punjab on Sunday, yet his maximum in the match saw him become just the seventh overseas player to hit 100 sixes in the competition, according to statistician Bharath Seervi.
While he opens for the Lions, the selectors of this XI have squeezed Smith into the team by picking him in the middle order.
6. Sam Billings
A wicketkeeper-batsman from England was expected to have a big impact on the IPL this season.
The man in question was Jos Buttler, and although he has produced the odd moment of magic for Mumbai Indians, he hasn't quite hit the heights many predicted.
However, another Englishman, Sam Billings, made a big impression on debut for Delhi Daredevils on Saturday.
The right-hander blasted 54 from 34 deliveries against Kolkata Knight Riders, including sharing in a fourth-wicket partnership worth 105 with Karun Nair.
Nair—who made 68—was full of praise for his team-mate, telling Prajakta Pawar of the IPL's official website: "To come out and play so well in the first game, credit goes to him [for playing such a crucial knock]. He played positively which took the pressure off me a bit. We had a good partnership."
7. Parthiv Patel
Opening partner Sharma may have overshadowed Parthiv Patel so far this season, but the wicketkeeper-batsman came up trumps for Mumbai Indians when his skipper failed to fire.
Having seen Rohit dismissed without scoring against Kings XI Punjab on Monday, Parthiv responded by making 81 from 58 deliveries.
He shared in a 137-run stand with Rayudu—who made 65—to set Mumbai on their way to a match-winning total in Mohali.
8. Chris Morris
When Chris Morris made his way to the middle against Gujarat Lions on Wednesday, his Delhi Daredevils were 57 for four chasing a target of 173.
They ended up getting within two runs thanks to Morris, who blasted 82 not out from just 32 deliveries. He smashed eight sixes but couldn't quite get his team over the line.
It was only the second time Morris had batted during this year's IPL. His third innings wasn't so impressive—the South African made a duck against Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday.
Morris has been far more consistent with the ball. Per the tournament's official website, he boasts an economy rate of 6.52 runs per over.
9. Axar Patel
Axar Patel had only taken four wickets during the season before Kings XI Punjab took on Gujarat Lions on Sunday.
The spinner doubled his tally for the campaign with figures of four for 21, including taking a hat-trick.
Axar dismissed Dinesh Karthik and Dwayne Bravo with the final two deliveries of the seventh over before taking out Ravindra Jadeja with the first ball of the 11th.
He became the first bowler to claim a hat-trick in this season's competition.
It is the third in the history of the Kings XI franchise—Yuvraj Singh, who is no longer with the team, took the other two.
10. Jasprit Bumrah
Seamer Jasprit Bumrah claimed up six wickets in Week 3.
The Mumbai Indians bowler went wicketless against Kolkata Knight Riders but picked up three apiece in wins over Kings XI Punjab and Rising Pune Supergiants.
Only team-mate Mitchell McClenaghan (13) now has more wickets in the season than Bumrah's haul of 11, although Mumbai has played nine games already.
11. Mohit Sharma
Mohit Sharma has claimed six wickets in a week for Kings XI Punjab.
The seamer claimed three for 38 in a losing cause against Mumbai Indians and then followed up with three for 32 in his team's victory over Gujarat Lions.
Mohit has been a positive in another tough season for Kings XI, who prop up the rest of the sides in the table after picking up just four points from seven games.