Who in the world would’ve thought of IPL turning out to be such a game-changer in Indian cricket history? A tournament that architectured the modern-day game, the Indian Premier League continues to compete with some of the greatest sporting competitions in the world in terms of quality, money-making and crowd turnouts.
Brendon McCullum set arguably the most perfect platform a tournament could’ve asked for, with a sensational 158 in the inaugural fixture in 2008. The likes of Chris Gayle, David Warner, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli and most recently Andre Russell, have continued to better the glamour quotient of this amazing league.
The tournament will be entering its 13th season next April and that season promises to be even more exciting and challenging. Before we flood our brains with the excitement of the upcoming season, here’s a small tribute to the top ten batsmen the IPL has seen in these 12 seasons.
10. Gautam Gambhir
A two-time trophy winning captain, a leader par excellence and most importantly, a classy batsman who rarely failed to lead by example, Gautam Gambhir has been a sensational figure in this tournament’s history. A cult leader for the Knight Riders, Gambhir has also represented the Delhi Capitals for four seasons.
Gambhir is one of the most technically gifted batsmen, who barely gives anything away while he’s in the middle. Not many were convinced his style would be feasible in the shortest format, but as it turned out, the man was pretty astonishing with the willow in hand.
Incidentally, he’s also the 10th highest run-scorer and one among the ten batsmen in IPL history to score more than 4,000 runs. Despite scoring just 59 sixes in his IPL career, he’s amassed a staggering 4,217 runs at an average in excess of 30 and a strike-rate of 123.88.
9. Shane Watson
The Most Valuable Player of the inaugural season of IPL, Shane Watson had some glorious campaigns for the Rajasthan Royals and is often underappreciated for his services in this tournament. The talented all-rounder is 13th on the list of highest run-scorers and 17th on the list of highest wicket-takers in the tournament’s history.
Despite struggling for a couple of seasons with RCB and announcing retirement from international cricket in 2016, Watson made a stellar comeback with the Chennai Super Kings in 2018, scoring one of the greatest centuries of all time in the final against Sunrisers Hyderabad. He nearly replicated the heroics in 2019 final but fell just short.
With 3,575 runs in just 134 matches, Watson easily qualifies as a worthy member of this elite list. He also hit 177 sixes in the tournament, which is the 8th best tally for a batsman in this tournament.
8. Shikhar Dhawan
One of the most cunning run-scorers you could find, Shikhar Dhawan is the fifth-best in the list of most runs in an IPL career. He represented Mumbai Indians, Delhi Capitals and Deccan Chargers earlier before his career’s most glorious stint began with the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Alongside David Warner, Dhawan became the best second-fiddle batsman in IPL history, helping the Australian notch some remarkable big knocks with his valiant support from the other end. He moved back to the Delhi Capitals in 2019 in a move which saw three talented players exchanged with Hyderabad, a signing which signifies the player’s quality.
Dhawan has 4,579 runs in 158 innings, with a career-best knock of 97 not out coming in the 2019 season. He also scored the most fours in this tournament’s history and is the only batsman with more than 500 fours in a career (524 fours).
7. MS Dhoni
Perhaps it is a poetic justice that MS Dhoni‘s rank in this list matches with his iconic jersey – Number 7. The former Indian captain continues to lead the most celebrated franchise in IPL history, the Chennai Super Kings, with whom he won the title 3 times and made them reach the finals a record 8 times out of 10 seasons they played.
Dhoni has been the finest finisher of the 21st century and he’s done that many a number of times in the IPL as well. Whenever he’s come up the order, he also took on the responsibility to score hefty runs and stay at the crease for long, making him a very versatile presence in the team. Without a debate, he’s been IPL’s most influential figure.
Dhoni’s average in the tournament is second only to David Warner, amassing 4,432 runs at an outstanding 42.20 average and a strike-rate in excess of 135. He also scored more than 200 fours and sixes each, one of the three players in the tournament’s history to have achieved that double.
6. AB de Villiers
Wherever AB de Villiers goes, he adds colors and glamour to the tournament and with the IPL, it was no different. One of the most audacious and gutsy batsmen cricket ever witnessed, his ability to nurture runs from every corner of the ground made the fans bow down to him out of awe.
On numerous occasions, it was his class and audacity which resurrected dead Bangalore ashes back to life and he’s played some of the greatest knocks in T20 history in the last 9 seasons. He’s been a part of some remarkable partnerships with Virat Kohli over the years, gifting the fans a rare sight of the world’s two best in the same jersey batting for the same side.
His numbers speak for himself and the legend he is. In 154 matches, he scored 4,395 runs at an average a tinge under 40 and strike-rate over 150. The only thing which he hasn’t managed his career is not winning the tournament.
5. Rohit Sharma
The only captain in the history with four IPL titles, the only player in the history with five winner medals – Rohit Sharma is perhaps the most decorated name in IPL history. The third-highest run-scorer of the IPL, Rohit’s stint for both Deccan Chargers and Mumbai Indians have been equally memorable.
Rohit was named the best emerging player in 2009 when Deccan Chargers lifted the title and in 2011, Mumbai Indians signed him for a huge amount, but they never have repented even once. He’s been scoring runs when needed and leading by example in critical situations, making Mumbai the most triumphant franchise in the tournament’s history.
Rohit is on the verge of completing 5,000 runs in the tournament, currently standing at 4,898 in 183 innings. He scored one century at the Eden Gardens and 36 half-centuries, making him one of the most productive players of the tournament.
4. Chris Gayle
It’s hard to imagine the Royal Challengers Bangalore without the flabbergasting contribution made by Chris Gayle to improve their brand value. The legendary Jamaican joined them in 2011 after spending the first three seasons with Kolkata Knight Riders and the rest, as they say, is history.
He won two consecutive orange caps in 2011 and 2012 and scored more than 700 runs in 2013 as well. He holds the record for the most sixes in career, most sixes in an innings, most runs scored in an innings and most centuries in the tournament, already establishing his legacy as an IPL legend.
Gayle amassed 4,484 runs in just 125 matches and will be eager to add to that value with the Kings XI Punjab next season. His average too is pretty staggering at 41.13 and is the only batsman apart from AB de Villiers with a strike-rate more than 150 (More than 3,000 runs).
3. Suresh Raina
The Chinna Thala of IPL’s most successful franchise, Suresh Raina is one of the most loved cricketers in this country, especially in Chennai and Tamil Nadu. His remarkable consistency in amalgamating runs over the course of 12 seasons made him CSK’s most prolific figure besides their main man MS Dhoni.
Suresh Raina might’ve struggled in the last three or four seasons, but not one batsman could match up with his consistency in the first eight seasons. The classy left-handed batsman was a pivotal part of all the three titles CSK won and continues to be a part of that amazing unit.
Raina is the second-highest run-scorer in IPL, with a staggering 5,368 runs in 189 innings and was the first player to complete 5,000 runs in the tournament. He’s also the most capped player in IPL history, with 193 games to his name.
2. Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli’s progression in the tournament wasn’t as consistent as Suresh Raina’s or David Warner’s, but after he was made the captain of the Royal Challengers Bangalore, he’s been batting at a level very few have played in this format. If not for his first three or four seasons, he perhaps could’ve topped this list.
Kohli, in the company of Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers, mounted huge totals for fun and made RCB the hub of entertaining cricket. He came close to triumph in the tournament but fell short. He won the Orange Cap once in 2016 where he scored 977 runs in the season, most by a batsman in a single season.
Kohli is the highest run-scorer in IPL history, with 5,412 runs to his name at an average of 37.84. He scored five centuries and 36 half-centuries and is second on the list of most fifty-plus scores in the tournament, only behind the Australian talisman David Warner.
1. David Warner
For his jaw-dropping consistency to score runs in important games, one has to accept a fact that David Warner thus far has been the finest batsman in IPL history. Beginning his career in 2009 with the Delhi Capitals, Warner first scored 400-plus runs in his final season with the Capitals in 2013 and his standard never came down.
For a record-breaking five consecutive seasons, he scored more than 500 runs in an edition and won the orange cap thrice (More than any other player). He also led the Sunrisers to a title win in 2016 and in his comeback season the last edition, he hammered 692 runs in just 12 knocks, which included 9 scores of 50 or more.
Warner scored 4,706 runs in just 126 matches at a strike-rate in excess of 140. He also has the best average among all batsmen with more than 1,000 runs to their name. He still has a few good seasons left in him to consolidate his position at the helm and it’ll be interesting to see if the others in the list can come remotely close to the Aussie.
Honorable mentions: Kieron Pollard, Ajinkya Rahane, Robin Uthappa, Brendon McCullum, Adam Gilchrist, Virender Sehwag
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