IPL 2019, the 12th season of the Indian Premier League, the largest T20 cricket tournament in the world, is officially underway. It has been an action-packed weekend, but also a very intriguing one. There were the exciting young stars firing on one hand – Rishabh Pant again for Delhi Capitals, Shubman Gill for KKR, Nitish Rana for Mumbai Indians. But again, it has been the proven, tried-and-tested names that have taken the first weekend by storm. Their faces are familiar to millions of Indian households that tune in to their TV sets every evening to beat the Indian summers.

Let’s take a look at some of the IPL stars that have aged, but remain the most valuable players of the teams they occupy. Old is truly gold, and season after season, they have been the top picks and performers in the league:

SHANE WATSON (CSK)

The burly, retired Australian all-rounder is almost 40 years old, and in 2017 he had one of his worst IPL seasons ever. Yet, the ex-Royals superstar was recruited into an aging but reformed CSK outfit in 2018, and he scored a blistering winning century in the IPL 2018 final. Watson has been around right from the beginning; he was MVP for the inaugural champions, Rajasthan Royals, under Shane Warne way back in 2008. He has changed two franchises after that, but has remained an intimidating and effective all-round pick even after he retired for Australia, despite not bowling as much as he used to. He scored a 10-ball duck in the first game this season against RCB, but one suspects he will be a game-changer when he does fire.

HARBHAJAN SINGH (CSK)

“The Turbanator” is another constant that has been around since the beginning. He is now a CSK spinner and enjoyed his most successful outing in the yellow jersey since joining in the first game against RCB on a turning, slow pitch. Singh enjoyed plenty of success with Mumbai Indians and has been one of the most economical bowlers in this format even if he isn’t exactly a wicket-taker.

CHRIS GAYLE (KXIP)

The greatest ever T20 batsman is still a frightening prospect for IPL bowlers, years after he took the nation by storm in RCB colors. Gayle could well be on his last legs at almost 40, but he enjoyed a recovery of sorts last season despite being dropped by RCB and going unsold in the first auction. He is still middling the ball as an opener, and just like Watson, big innings often means a century for him – which means curtains for the rivals. Could this be his last IPL season? He can hit sixes for fun till he’s 60, though.

SURESH RAINA (CSK)

The southpaw isn’t as old as the other, but he has played for the same team for 11 seasons and some and has been the most prolific and consistent Indian batsman in IPL cricket. He remains a steady, urgent presence for CSK at 3 despite falling out of favor for team India, and remains one of the most sought-after options in the auction 12 years after he drove his first CSK team to the final.

VIRAT KOHLI (RCB)

He is only 30, but the best batsman in the world today made his IPL debut in the first season for the same team that he now leads as a cherubic 19-year-old teenager who had just lead India to the U-19 World Cup title. Kohli is now an established legend, and the most reliable all-format batsman to have ever played. RCB might not be the strongest right now, but one can never doubt that he will top the run charts even if he isn’t quite in form. Who can forget IPL 2016 – the greatest single season for a T20 batsman ever?

Special Mentions:
MS Dhoni (CSK), Yuvraj Singh (MI), Amit Mishra (DC), Rohit Sharma (MI), David Warner (SRH), Glenn Maxwell (DC), Piyush Chawla (KKR), Manish Pandey (SRH), Kieron Pollard (MI), Lasith Malinga (MI)

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Chennai Super Kings

Mumbai Indians

Kolkata Knight Riders