The Indian Premier League (IPL) is one of the most looked forward to events of the cricket year yet not even the cash-rich league could escape the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
The tournament got delayed but is set to take place in the UAE behind closed doors. While T20 cricket is generally seen as a batsman’s game, over the years a number of bowlers have made their mark in the league.
Here we take a look at the ten bowlers with the most number of wickets in the history of the tournament.
Lasith Malinga (M – 122, W – 170, BBM – 5/13)
The Sri Lankan pacer, widely considered one of the modern-day greats in white-ball cricket, has been a consistent performer in the IPL since he made his debut in 2009. The fact that he tops this list despite having not played the tournament on three separate occasions – 2008, 2016 and 2018 – speaks volumes about his class. His IPL career has seen him play for the Mumbai Indians since Day 1 and he has always remained a consistent threat. Injuries have slowed him down in recent years but his ability to bowl yorkers on demand while also being able to mix up his pace with great effect means Mumbai continue to rely on him – and he is able to deliver every single time.
Amit Mishra (M – 147, W – 157, BBM – 5/17)
The wily leg-spinner has been a key cog in whatever side he has represented since the first season of the IPL. Mishra’s career has largely seen him turn out for the Delhi Daredevils – now Delhi Capitals – but the Delhi-born spinner has also turned out for the Deccan Chargers and Sunrisers Hyderabad. Spinners have often found success in the shortest format of the game and Mishra has been a consistent performer in the tournament. Mishra’s success came from him sticking to the basics; he preferred to actually toss the ball up and look for spin instead of going flat and hard. His best season came in 2013 when he took 21 wickets and the veteran took a respectable 11 wickets in 2019.
Harbhajan Singh (M – 160, W – 150, BBM – 5/18)
The veteran Indian off-spinner has tasted plenty of success on the international stage and he used his years of experience to become a canny operator in the IPL as well. Harbhajan has tasted plenty of success with both his franchises – Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings – and has almost always been one of the first names on the team-sheet for his sides. He has had to change his approach to bowling over the years, going flatter and relying less on spinning the ball a long way. However, he has remained both economical and among the wickets for as long as he has played, a testament to both his longevity and ability to improvise with the times.
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Piyush Chawla (M – 157, W – 150, BBM – 4/17)
Chawla’s biggest weapon over the years in the IPL has been a well-disguised googly. Never the greatest turner of the ball, the leggie has made a career out of bowling in consistent lines and then troubling batsmen with the occasional one that turns the other way. He spent the first three seasons of the IPL with Kings XI Punjab where he was a consistent performer but never tasted much success otherwise. His move to Kolkata Knight Riders in 2011 changed that; Chawla would be a key part of the sides that lifted the trophy in 2012 and 2014, including scoring the winning runs in the 2014 final. Now playing for Chennai Super Kings, he will hope to add to his impressive tally of 150 wickets.
Dwayne Bravo (M – 134, W – 147, BBM – 4/22)
Another player who has established himself as a consistent performer in T20 cricket around the world, it is no surprise that Bravo is as entrenched in IPL history as he is. His career started with the Mumbai Indians but his legendary status in the IPL came largely when he moved to Chennai Super Kings. His ability to bowl well at any time of the match – and especially so at the death – have seen him become a fan favourite of the Yellow Army. The fact that he can take wickets almost at will certainly doesn’t hurt. He has made useful contributions with the bat as well but it is with the ball that Bravo has become one of CSK’s most deadly weapons.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (M – 117, W – 133, BBM – 5/19)
The fact that Bhuvneshwar is on this list is impressive in itself given that he only made his IPL debut in 2011, by which time 3 editions of the tournament had been played. Bhuvneshwar had short stints in the now-defunct Pune Warriors as well as in Royal Challengers Bangalore but it is for the Sunrisers Hyderabad that he has shone the most. Comfortable with both new ball and old while also possessing both an impressive change of pace and an eye for the yorker, it is no wonder he features on this list. Recent seasons have seen him struggle a bit but his impressive past showings and obvious talent sees him remain a vital cog for the Hyderabad franchise.
Ravichandran Ashwin (M – 139, W – 125, BBM – 4/34)
Ashwin first rose to national prominence thanks to his performances for home side Chennai Super Kings in the IPL. His ability to bowl in consistent lines as well as an eagerness to never stop searching for innovations – he has a doosra, a carrom ball and even the odd leg-spinner in his arsenal – saw him become an effective operator for CSK. Recent years have seen his wicket tally drop just a bit but he has grown as a player – aside from occasionally chipping in with the bat, he was also captain of Kings XI Punjab in 2018 and 2019. Now with the Delhi Capitals and free from the captaincy burdens, Ashwin will doubtless be looking to make his mark as a bowler again.
Sunil Narine (M – 110, W – 122, BBM – 5/19)
The West Indian spinner made an instant impact on the Kolkata Knight Riders side when he joined in 2012, his 24 wickets being a major reason for them winning the IPL for the first time. He took 22 wickets in what was a disappointing 2013 campaign but starred once again in 2014, taking 21 wickets as KKR claimed the trophy for a second time. A need to remodel his bowling action saw his effectiveness with the ball drop in recent years but he remains a vital operator for the side. He is now more of an opening batsman who can bowl but Narine will hope to add more wickets to his tally and remind the world of what made him such a deadly operator in white-ball cricket.
Umesh Yadav (M – 119, W – 119, BBM – 4/24)
Umesh is largely seen as someone better suited to the longer format of the game but his IPL career has been a decent one as well. He has represented three franchises in his career thus far, having made his debut with the Delhi Daredevils before moving to the Kolkata Knight Riders and later Royal Challengers Bangalore. While he was never the man around whom the bowling attack revolved for any of his sides, the speedster has chipped in with wickets regularly and has won the IPL twice with KKR. His IPL form in recent times has been up and down – he took 20 wickets in 2018 but only 8 in 2019 – and will be looking to do more in 2020.
Ravindra Jadeja (M – 170, W – 108, BBM – 5/16)
Jadeja made his IPL debut in 2008 itself and the man Shane Warne dubbed a ‘rockstar’ won the tournament with Rajasthan Royals. Interestingly, he took no wickets at all that year but he has consistently been among the wickets since then. The Saurashtra all-rounder’s biggest strength is his consistency; he is able to bowl at a consistent line and length and gets through his overs quickly, meaning batsmen never realty settle into a rhythm with him. His recent form in white-ball cricket for India has also been stellar so Chennai fans can expect more from him in the coming years. He claimed a respectable 15 wickets in 2019 and could very well top that figure this year.