In T20 cricket teams need a potent bowling unit in addition to an explosive top order despite the format being considered built for batsmen. Most successful teams in the IPL have had great bowling lineups and some top-notch bowlers in their side.
The demand and price paid for signing bowlers have increased phenomenally in the auctions. Pat Cummins, a fast bowler, was the most expensive player at this season's auction as he was bought for a whopping ₹16 Crore by KKR.
Let's now take a look at the bowling lineups of each team to try and rank them.
#8 Rajasthan Royals
The Royals possess a good pace battery, but most of that strength is derived from their overseas pacers like Jofra Archer, Tom Curran, and Andrew Tye. However, their overseas combination is such that they can field only one overseas pacer, and that significantly reduces their strength. The Indian options they have, except for Unadkat, aren't that reliable, especially in foreign conditions.
Their spin bowling attack is also one of the weakest on paper. Shreyas Gopal is the only experienced spinner in a side that contains no overseas spin-bowling option. With spin set to play an important role in the UAE, the lack of reliable spinners could hurt the Royals this IPL.
#7 Kings XI Punjab
Kings XI Punjab bolstered their bowling unit with some smart acquisitions in the IPL auction but their bowling line-up doesn't seem to be as strong as some of the other teams. They have a decent pace attack which Mohammed Shami and Sheldon Cottrell are expected to spearhead. They also have some able backup in Chris Jordan and Ishan Porel.
Their spin bowling line-up though, lacks big names, and someone to lead the attack. While Mujeeb will be a great option, it'll be tough to accommodate him regularly on the side. The likes of Gowtham and Ravi Bishnoi show great promise but haven't done enough to be called reliable.
So while the Kings can certainly exceed expectations with the ball in the IPL, they aren't as strong as most of the other teams, at least on paper.
#6 Royal Challengers Bangalore
RCB have certainly strengthened their bowling unit, but it still isn't up to the level of some of the top teams in the IPL. Part of the reason is the lack of a reliable Indian pacer. Navdeep Saini could take up that role this season, but he's a bit inexperienced.
Coming to the spinners, they do have a couple of world-class options in Yuzvendra Chahal and Moeen Ali. Fitting Moeen Ali into the team would be a challenge considering that they need overseas players in other roles in the team. The other options don't strike me as reliable, and Pawan Negi especially hasn't done enough to justify his retention.
All in all, RCB have a couple of great options and a decent bowling attack but lack depth in spin bowling options and reliable Indian pacers for IPL 2020.
#5 Sunrisers Hyderabad
Sunrisers Hyderabad were one of the best bowling attacks in the league till IPL 2018 but the 2019 IPL saw a dip in their performances. Their pace attack, though filled with Indian options, looks a bit weak, especially if you consider that the lead pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been ousted from the national side after his injury. The likes of Siddharth Kaul and Basil Thampi have been average at best in the domestic season and didn't do well in the last IPL season.
Their spin bowling line-up looks good mostly because of the Afghan duo of Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi. They must look to accommodate both of them on the side as they don't have too many reliable Indian options. Shahbaz Nadeem should be the third spinner alongside the two, but he wasn't able to replicate his DC success in the IPL at SRH.
#4 Mumbai Indians
Spin Bowling options: Anukul Roy, Jayant Yadav, Rahul Chahar, and Krunal Pandya.
Mumbai Indians' pace bowling attack is undoubtedly the best in the IPL, and it will be crucial to their success this season. Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, and Dhawal Kulkarni should be their Indian options while they have a host of overseas options to choose from. Now that Malinga could miss a part of IPL 2020, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Trent Boult will be favorites to make it to the playing XI.
While they have a strong pace attack, they're severely understaffed in the spin bowling department.
Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar are the main spinners for the side, and while they've been adequate, they aren't as good as someone like Chahal. They have no overseas option as backup and young Anukul Roy, and Jayant Yadav should be the back-up options.
#3 Delhi Capitals
Pace bowling options: Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Marcus Stoinis, Keemo Paul, Ishant Sharma, Avesh Khan, Mohit Sharma, Tushar Deshpande, and Harshal Patel.
Spin Bowling options: Sandeep Lamichhane, Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Lalit Yadav, and Amit Mishra
The Delhi Capitals are one of the stronger bowling sides this IPL. They have, however, been dealt a blow, as the in-form Chris Woakes opted out of the tournament leading them to replace him with Anrich Nortje. While they have a rich blend of overseas pacers, their list of Indian pacers is among the weakest in the league and that's the only weak area in their side.
They have a great spin bowling attack with big names like R Ashwin, Amit Mishra, and the consistent Axar Patel in the side. Sandeep Lamichchane provides a strong backup to the Indian trio and could even be played in tandem with them in case the wicket supports spin bowling.
#2 Kolkata Knight Riders
Pace bowling options: Pat Cummins, Harry Gurney, Andre Russell, Lockie Ferguson, Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Sandeep Warrier, and Prasidh Krishna.
Spin Bowling options: Sunil Narine, Chris Green, Kuldeep Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy, M Siddharth, and Nitish Rana.
This is a pretty easy decision. KKR have a very strong bowling attack despite the injury to pacer Harry Gurney. Big signing Pat Cummins will lead the pace attack which is set to consist of Andre Russell and a host of young Indian options.
While Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, and Sandeep Warrier will fight for a spot in the side, Prasidh Krishna's excellent showings for Karnataka in the domestic season guarantees him a place in the side.
They also have a great set of spinners. Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav will be the two main spin-bowling options, and they can control the play during the middle overs. Narine can also bowl during the powerplay or even at the death.
Chris Green is a solid backup option for Narine, while mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy will be the one to watch out for in IPL 2020. TN spinner M Siddharth, who impressed in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, is another good option.
#1 Chennai Super Kings
Spin Bowling options: Imran Tahir, Mitchell Santner, Piyush Chawla, R Sai Kishore, Harbhajan Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Karn Sharma, and Kedar Jadhav.
Given the conditions in the UAE, this is a no-brainer. CSK's spin bowling attack is undoubtedly the best in IPL, and they'll have a great time bowling in the UAE. Imran Tahir and Mitchell Santner are the two overseas options, and the former won the Purple Cap last IPL season.
Ravindra Jadeja, Piyush Chawla, Harbhajan Singh, Karn Sharma, and R Sai Kishore are their Indian spin-bowling options.
Their pace attack is good as well, and Sam Curran, DJ Bravo, and Lungi Ngidi are their main overseas options. Deepak Chahar's overs in the powerplay will be crucial for CSK's hopes in IPL 2020, although Shardul Thakur certainly needs to improve on his economy this IPL.