T20 cricket is as much a bowler’s game as it is a batter’s, despite the format being tilted towards the men with the willow. A popular quote says that a team can only win if they manage to pick all the wickets in a game, and the same holds true in the IPL as well.
Over the years, teams with a successful bowling attack have tended to do better – a major reason why a strong Royal Challengers Bangalore are yet to win the IPL, despite having big guns like Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers over the years.
We look at the players who will be crucial for the team’s chances this season, and could end with the Purple Cap.
Jasprit Bumrah (Mumbai Indians):
One of the best T20 bowlers in the world, Bumrah has been one of the finds of the IPL. He has become Kohli’s go-to player while playing for Team India and will be expected to lead the charge for Mumbai Indians as well, especially in the absence of Lasith Malinga, who has pulled out of the IPL due to personal reasons.
Bumrah has been with Mumbai since 2013, but was only able to pick up 11 wickets in his first three seasons with the franchise. However, he had a season to remember in 2016, when he got 15 wickets and impressed with his yorkers in the death overs. MI skipper Rohit Sharma has been using him across the innings since last year, giving him short over spells, and it is a move that has worked wonders.
Bumrah looks to stall the run-flow, and is often among the wickets as batters look to end with maximum runs in the death.
Yuzvendra Chahal (Royal Challengers Bangalore):
The spinner has been Kohli’s main bowler in the IPL at the Chinnaswamy Stadium over the years. The RCB franchise does not have the best bowling line-up and is often hammered at the small ground in Bengaluru, but Chahal has managed to impress. He picked up 12 wickets in his maiden IPL season and ended with 23 wickets in 15 matches in 2015. The next season, he ended with the second-most wickets in the IPL, with 21 wickets in just 13 games.
The wickets in the UAE will suit his bowling style, and one can expect the Indian wrist-spinner to be on the mark.
Rashid Khan (Sunrisers Hyderabad):
The young Afghan spinner can deliver across various conditions and has plenty of experience. The leg spinner has been vital to SRH’s fortunes over the years and has made a valuable contribution. His best showing was in IPL 2018 when he picked up 21 scalps and helped his team get into the playoffs. SRH has relied on getting runs on the board, with Rashid and Bhuvneshwar Kumar having the responsibility of defending the target.
Rashid can send down his overs in the powerplay overs, can stall the runs in the middle overs and can bowl economically in the death as well, which makes him the perfect bowler to have in any team. He has a bowling economy of just 6.55 in the history of the IPL and has the third-best strike rate – 21.69 – among bowlers who have played in at least 35 games.