The trend of heavier, better bats and shorter boundaries in the age of T20 cricket risks making bowlers an endangered species. The prevalence of flat pitches and the restrictions on bowlers and their field placings compound the fears. But a three-time World Cup winner, the smiling assassin, and the Jumbo are among those who stifled the batsmen and put a lid on the scoring in the IPL over the years.
1. Rashid Khan — 46 matches, 55 wickets at 6.55 per over
Rashid Khan, the leg-spinner, played his maiden IPL for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 10th edition. He smashed an unbeaten 34 off 10 balls, before claiming three for 19 in his four overs as Hyderabad beat Kolkata Knight Riders to reach the IPL 2018 final. He is an integral component of the Hyderabad bowling attack.
2. Anil Kumble — 42 matches, 45 wickets at 6.57 per over
Anil Kumble took over as Royal Challengers Bangalore captain midway through the second season, which saw him pick 21 wickets at an economy rate of 5.86, including a spell of 5 for 5 in Cape Town against Rajasthan Royals. Kumble eventually hung up his boots before the 2011 auction.
3. Glenn McGrath — 14 matches, 12 wickets at 6.61 per over
Glenn McGrath is one of the only two pacers — the other being Dale Steyn — in the top-10 list of bowlers with the best economy-rate. Turning up for the then Delhi Daredevils in 2008, he picked 12 wickets, including a match-winning 4 for 29 against Royal Challengers Bangalore, at 6.61.
4. Sunil Narine — 110 matches, 122 wickets at 6.67 per over
Sunil Narine, one of the key architects of Kolkata Knight Riders’ two title victories in 2012 and 2014, shot into the limelight with his carrom balls, knuckle balls and skidders. He has bowled an astonishing 1051 dot balls in the IPL so far and boasts the joint-highest number of four-wicket hauls — 6.
5. Muttiah Muralitharan — 66 matches, 63 wickets at 6.67 per over
Muralitharan plied his trade with the Chennai Super Kings for the first three seasons, his miserly spells powering Chennai to its maiden title in 2010. He continued to impress with his bowling during his time at the now-defunct Kochi Tuskers Kerala and Royal Challengers Bangalore, before calling it a day in 2014.
6. Roelof van der Merwe — 21 matches, 21 wickets at 6.74 per over
Van der Merwe played for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the second and third seasons, before being signed by Delhi Daredevils ahead of IPL 4. In 2009, after general elections-related circumstances did not guarantee security cover, the second season was played in South Africa where van der Merwe snapped up nine wickets at 7.29 in front of his home crowd.
7. Dale Steyn — 92 matches, 96 wickets at 6.76 per over
The Royal Challengers Bangalore paceman Dale Steyn was ruled out of the last IPL with a shoulder injury after he had impressed in his two outings against KKR and CSK, picking four wickets. In 2013, Steyn’s 19 wickets at 5.66 led the Sunrisers Hyderabad to the playoffs in its debut season. The 31-year-old was signed by Bangalore for his base price of Rs. 2 Crore at the IPL auction for the 2020 season.
8. Rahul Chahar — 16 matches, 15 wickets at 6.77 per over
The 20-year-old leg spinner was picked by Mumbai in 2018 for Rs 1.9 Crore. Chahar starred in Mumbai Indians’ record title-winning season in May last year, taking 13 wickets at an economy rate (6.55 rpo) that kept the batsmen under check. He subsequently won a call up for the three-match Twenty20 series against the West Indies.
9. Daniel Vettori — 34 matches, 28 wickets at 6.78 per over
The former New Zealand skipper played for the Delhi Daredevils and subsequently, Royal Challengers Bangalore. He led RCB to the 2011 IPL final, spearheading the charge with 12 wickets at 6.01. Vettori was with Bangalore as head coach since 2014, before being replaced by Gary Kirsten two years ago.
10. Ravichandran Ashwin — 139 matches, 125 wickets at 6.79 per over
Ashwin’s 13 wickets at an economy rate of 6.10 were instrumental in Chennai Super Kings winning its maiden title in 2010. Under M. S. Dhoni’s captaincy, Ashwin became a potent weapon both in the Powerplay and in the death overs. Recently, Delhi Capitals became the fourth IPL franchise to sign Ashwin after Chennai Super Kings, Rising Pune Supergiant and Kings XI Punjab. His overall figures in the IPL are the best among all Indian bowlers with 50-plus wickets.
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