The 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is scheduled to commence on the 19th of September, and teams have reportedly begun preparations for the highly anticipated tournament.
Although the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) will take place before the IPL, the world's biggest franchise league will be the first experience of top-level cricketing action in months for most players involved. With the batsmen likely to take time to get used to conditions in the UAE, the bowlers can be expected to capitalise on their rust to scalp a healthy amount of wickets.
Purple Cap winners in the IPL
In the 2019 edition of the IPL, CSK's Imran Tahir became only the second spinner to win the Purple Cap.
Apart from the usual suspects, we take a look at 5 dark horses who could win the Purple Cap in the 2020 IPL.
#5 Mohammed Shami
Kings XI Punjab's pace attack will heavily rely on the services of India international Mohammed Shami, and the onus will be on the pacer to lead the otherwise inexperienced (at the IPL level) bowling lineup.
After picking up 0, 1, 7, 5, 5, and 3 wickets in his first 6 IPL campaigns, Shami finally made his presence felt in the 2019 edition of the tournament, finishing with 19 wickets from 14 games. Although his career economy rate of 8.99 is very high, the 29-year-old will be entrusted with the important overs of the innings and is guaranteed to take wickets.
Shami's IPL career has been highly average thus far, but he is a certain dark horse in the race for the Purple Cap.
#4 Trent Boult
Trent Boult didn't get enough opportunities at both Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), but burst onto the IPL scene with 18 wickets for the Delhi Capitals in the 2018 season.
Although the left-armer's last campaign yielded only 5 wickets in 5 games, he is certain to have an impact at his new franchise, the Mumbai Indians (MI).
With Lasith Malinga getting on in his career, Boult is expected to partner Jasprit Bumrah throughout the course of the tournament. The presence of quality pacers around him will take some of the pressure off his shoulders, and he can be trusted by captain Rohit Sharma to bowl with the new ball and at the death.
Boult's chances of featuring in the XI are quite high for the second time in his IPL career, and he could go one better than his first.
#3 Pat Cummins
Pat Cummins is back at his first IPL franchise, KKR, and is the leader of the pace attack that has young guns like Prasidh Krishna, Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti. Since he was signed for the highest price in the history of the IPL auction for an overseas player, he can be expected to play all games.
Cummins has had only one season in the IPL so far with a fair run of games, for the Delhi Capitals in 2017 (15 wickets in 12 games at an economy rate of 8.07). The Australian's ability at the death hasn't been proven yet, but he is all but guaranteed to take up the responsibility.
With searing pace and adequate variations in his arsenal, Cummins could well stake a claim for the Purple Cap.
#2 Deepak Chahar
Deepak Chahar is a regular in the T20I setup for India now, and his worth in the shortest format of the game has been proven on many occasions in the IPL. The Rajasthan pacer has an accurate yorker and deceptive cutters, but more importantly, he has the backing of captain MS Dhoni.
Chahar picked up 22 wickets in 17 games in the 2019 IPL, finishing only 4 wickets behind his CSK teammate Imran Tahir. This time around, the 28-year-old could take it a step further and win the Purple Cap. With him bowling exclusively in the powerplay and at the death, all the signs point to Chahar having yet another splendid season in yellow.
Along with Dwayne Bravo, Chahar will have to bear the burden of CSK's pace bowling responsibilities, and he is likely to deliver again.
#1 Yuzvendra Chahal
Yuzvendra Chahal has always been in and among the wickets in the IPL, and he isn't as dark a horse as the others on this list. However, the leg-spinner has picked up only 18, 12, and 14 wickets in his last 3 seasons in the IPL, far behind the tallies of the Purple Cap winners.
RCB haven't really done much to address their bowling issues, and in the spin-friendly UAE conditions, Chahal might have to shoulder the burden of keeping his team alive in the tournament once again. The Haryana bowler will have bigger boundaries than the Chinnaswamy Stadium to fall back on, which would make taking him on even harder than usual.
Chahal could win the Purple Cap this IPL season, but even if he doesn't, he'll have to pick up a bucketload of wickets for his team to qualify for the playoffs.