24 Players, 15 Match-Ups, and nearly 20,000 votes later, we finally have a winner in the #IPLGOAT contest. Has Dhoni managed to prevail over De Villiers or has there been a upset?
After some frenzied voting, Mahendra Singh Dhoni edged past AB De Villiers, in a tightly contested poll, to be crowned as the ‘Greatest IPL Player of All Time'. In true IPL fashion, the final was a see-saw battle in which the lead kept alternating between the two players before Dhoni eventually prevailed. It was a remarkable victory, truly worthy of Dhoni and his famed final-over heroics.
The final count reads as follows: 51% of the vote to Dhoni and 49% of the vote to De Villiers.
The #IPLGOAT was a knockout tournament to determine the Greatest IPL Player of All Time. We had done some hard number-crunching and rigorous analysis to come up with a list of 24 truly great players. The list consisted of 4 all-rounders, 8 bowlers and 12 batsmen, each of them a legend in himself. However, we believe that the sport belongs to the fan, and hence the toughest task, that of selecting the single greatest IPL player, was left to you - the fans. The response that we have received has been overwhelming and beyond any of our expectations.
It is to your credit that despite the presence of some stellar players and superstars, arguably, the two greatest players of IPL, MS Dhoni and AB De Villiers, made it to the grand-finale. After all, not many websites can boast of fans who have the clarity and the conviction to look beyond the two biggest superstars of Indian cricket, Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli.
De-Villier's Path to the Final:
De Villier’s path to the final has been nothing short of heroic. In the 1st round itself, De Villiers had to face Raina, then the highest run-getter in IPL history and Gautam Gambhir, the man who led Kolkata Knight Riders to two IPL titles. Despite tough fight from Raina, ABD prevailed by garnering 51% of the votes. The Quarter-Final was against the most destructive player in T-20 cricket, Chris Gayle. Most of the voters, though, displayed immense maturity and chose De Villier’s versatility over Gayle’s brute force, and ABD sailed through with a whopping 86% of the vote. De Villier’s Semi-final opponent was Lasith Malinga, the most successful bowler in IPL. However, most of you seemed to have acknowledged the fact that T-20 is ultimately a batsmen’s game, and ABD marched through to the Grand-finale to set up a dream show down with Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Dhoni's Path to the Final:
If De Villier’s path to the final has been heroic, Dhoni’s journey has been monumental. While Dhoni does have a legion of loyal fans, he also has his share of detractors. Also, it didn't help that he had an underwhelming season, at least by his lofty standards. The fact that he has still managed to win the #IPLGOAT contest is a testament to his incredible IPL performances over the seasons. In the 1st round itself, he pulled off the impossible by defeating the God of Cricket, Tendulkar, and the crowd favourite, Sehwag, in a thrilling battle by garnering 48% of the votes to Tendulkar’s 45%. Having seen off Tendulkar, he found himself pitted against the man of the season, Virat Kohli. However, you the fans, displayed great clarity and were not carried away by the exploits of the current season alone. Dhoni prevailed in what turned out to be the closest battle until the final by securing 52% of the votes to Kohli’s 48%. In the semi-final, Dhoni faced Narine, and for a change eased through to the final with an overwhelming 84% of the vote.
And so 24 players, 14 match-ups and tens of thousands of votes later, it was time for you to finally decide the Greatest IPL Player of All Time. Both of them were multi-faceted players with the ability to single-handedly take away the game from the opposition. You seemed just as confused as us, and it was apparent from the beginning of the grand-finale that it was going to be an excruciatingly close battle. Neither ever secured more than 55% of the vote, and the lead kept alternating between the two. The excitement and the tension kept building up with frantic appeals on social media to vote for your respective favourite player. Finally though, you decided that Mahendra Singh Dhoni would prevail over Abraham Benjamin De Villiers, albeit with the most slender of margins, 51% to 49%, and Dhoni was crowned the Greatest Player of All Time in IPL history.
The Runner Up: AB De Villiers
Matches: 120, Runs: 3257, Batting Average: 39.24, Strike Rate: 149.33
Claim to Greatness:
When AB de Villiers gets going, the bowlers are reduced to a mere side-show. He drives, he scoops, he pulls and he paddles; with a bat in hand, there is not a thing that he cannot do. To watch perfect deliveries sailing over the boundary, ball after ball, demoralizes the best of the bowlers. In one memorable innings, AB de Villiers scored 24 off a Dale Steyn over; the champion bowler could do little but applaud in awe and disbelief. AB de Villiers averages just a tad under 40 and scores his runs at a strike rate of nearly 150. He has 3 centuries to his name and also contributes crucially in the field with 61 catches in just 83 matches.
AB De Villiers is unlucky to miss out on the #IPLGOAT title but there is no denying that he is the second greatest IPL player of all time.
The Winner: Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Matches: Matches: 143, Runs: 3270, Batting Average: 39.39, Strike Rate: 138.91
Claim to Greatness:
MS Dhoni has played 143 IPL matches. Only his ex-teammate, Suresh Raina, has played more - 147 matches. What is staggering though is that he has led in all of those 143 matches and has kept wickets in almost all of them. If an All-Time IPL XI team is made, MS Dhoni would captain it. He has defined the Chennai Super Kings, one of the most successful IPL teams, and in turn, he is not just adored but has been adopted by the CSK fans. Chennai Super Kings, under MS Dhoni, have won 2 titles and have reached the playoffs in every single season, with a win percentage of above 60, an incredible achievement. MS Dhoni, though, is so much more than just a successful captain. As a batsman alone, he is an IPL legend. 3,200 runs at an average of 39 and a strike rate of 138. Impressive figures, but there is more to it. With an ice-cool composure, Dhoni, over the years has engineered some sensational chases; his mere presence at the crease was enough to intimidate the bowlers. In addition to all these, he kept wickets; a true all-rounder indeed.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni truly deserves to be crowned as the ‘Greatest IPL Player of All Time’.