The first edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the most-watched cricket league in the world, was played in 2008. Since then, several star batsmen have emerged from the tournament.
The event is renowned as a farming ground for young players. Quite a few precocious Indian batsmen, such as Ajinkya Rahane, Yusuf Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja, earned national call-ups after their IPL exploits.
Thanks to the flat pitches, we saw huge individual scores from 2008-2019 (of which Chris Gayle’s 175 against Pune Warriors India is the highest). The IPL has seen 10 batsmen breach the 4000-run mark.
But which five players have scored the most runs from that select group? Here's the list:
#5 Shikhar Dhawan (4579 runs)
Shikhar Dhawan, one of India’s regular limited-overs batsmen, is a well-known figure in cricketing circles.
He rose to eminence through his positive approach at the top of the order. Early on in his innings, Dhawan tends to dispatch any over-pitched delivery to the boundary; he almost invariably provides a fast start for his team.
The left-hander is a prolific run-scorer in the IPL. He has scored 4579 runs at a handy average of 33.42 and a strike-rate of 124.
Dhawan, who hails from Delhi, has represented as many as five teams (in chronological order: Delhi Daredevils, Mumbai Indians, Deccan Chargers, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Capitals) since the first edition in 2008.
Dhawan smashed 340 runs in his debut season for DD. He was then traded to the Mumbai Indians in 2009 in exchange for Ashish Nehra.
But true to his roots, Dhawan returned to his home town in 2019 and slotted back in seamlessly. He amassed 521 runs in what was a hugely successful return for the Indian opener.
Dhawan's best innings was against Kolkata Knight Riders when he smashed 97 off 63 balls. It was a classic example of his modus operandi: he was aggressive from the start, and once set, played a few lovely cover drives.
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#4 David Warner (4706 runs)
David Warner, the once-volatile but now much more relaxed Australian, is at No. 4 on this list.
Warner certainly has fond memories of the IPL. The tournament gave him a second chance, which he grabbed with both hands.
A year after the ball-tampering scandal, in April 2019, Warner made his return to professional cricket and it was to be a huge test of his character. The combative batsman came through with flying colors.
Warner smashed 692 runs in 12 IPL matches and won the Orange Cap in the process. He looked in excellent form throughout his stay in India and was at his imperious best against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Warner joined hands with Englishman Jonny Bairstow (114 runs) as the opening pair plundered 185 runs for the first wicket.
After a successful IPL 2019, Warner's overall stats read: 4706 runs in 126 matches at an average of 43.17.
#3 Rohit Sharma (4898 runs)
Rohit Sharma is one of the most aesthetically-pleasing batsmen in the world. When one watches him bat, it is easy to see that he is highly gifted.
When Sharma plays a shot, the ball is caressed instead of bludgeoned. He is renowned for his good timing, and even his defensive push can send the red leather all the way to the boundary.
The Mumbai Indians captain has showcased all of the above in the IPL. Overall, he has scored 4898 runs at an average of 31.6.
Sharma started his career with the Deccan Chargers (2008-2010) and enjoyed moderate success with the 2009 tournament-winning team.
In 2011 he was sold to Mumbai Indians, and Sharma has been a stellar performer for them ever since. He has also proved to be an inspirational captain, having led them to four IPL titles (the latest one came in 2019).
The Mumbai Indians will fancy their chances of defending the trophy in 2020 if Sharma is at the helm.
#2 Suresh Raina (5368 runs)
Suresh Raina has scored the second-most runs in IPL history.
With 193 matches under his belt, Raina is also the most experienced player in IPL history. He has been around the block for almost as long as cricket fans can remember.
Raina has played almost all his cricket for Chennai Super Kings, and is one of their stalwart players. His batting is marked by sweet timing, excellent match-awareness and a remarkable ability to find gaps at will.
The 33-year-old made his debut in 2008. He enjoyed a brilliant IPL 2010, when he amassed 520 runs at a strike-rate of 142.
Raina's affiliation with CSK was temporarily halted in 2016 when the IPL was rocked by a match-fixing scandal. The respective owners of CSK and Rajastan Royals (RR) were found guilty of illegal betting, and their franchises were banned for two years (2016 and 2017).
The Gujarat Lions and Rising Pune Supergiants teams were hastily formed to make up the numbers and Raina was appointed the captain of Gujarat. He led the side with aplomb in a demanding situation, as they reached the playoff stage.
With the embargo over, Raina retuned to CSK’s ranks. He is still going strong and scored 383 runs in IPL 2019.
#1 Virat Kohli (5412 runs)
At the top of the pile is none other than Virat Kohli.
There are almost no superlatives left in the dictionary to describe his incredible batting feats. Kohli, who is ranked No. 1 in the ICC ODI rankings and No. 2 in the Test rankings, continues to pile up the runs in international cricket.
But many people tend to forget that he has a superb IPL record as well. The RCB captain has scored 5,412 runs at an average of 37.84. He has already registered five centuries in the tournament (no mean feat when one considers the limited amount of overs and the tendency to hit the ball in the air). Four of those 100-plus scores came in a single year - 2016.
Kohli, considering his lofty standards, endured a disappointing start to his IPL career. He averaged 15, 22. 36 and 27.90 in the first three editions. But he enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2011, when he smashed 557 runs.
2016 was easily his best year. He scored 973 runs at an out-of-this-world average of 81.08, and dominated all bowling attacks in tandem with South Africa's AB de Villiers.
Currently, Kohli has 44 runs more to his name than Raina. It will be fascinating to witness their mini-battle in 2020, and to find out who will end the year as the all-time leading run-scorer in the IPL.