T20 cricket has not been very kind to the bowlers. It’s like a passionate dancer or a singer struggling at a corporate job in the IT sector, where their perseverance really gets tested pretty much every single minute. Life has become difficult ever since this format offloaded. One of the key contributors towards making bowlers’ life difficult was IPL, which saw batsmanship new levels of audacity.
While this opinion did come true to a great extent, it didn’t apply with some exceptional cases. A lot of them expected the art of leg-spin to extinct, but that never happened. Instead, their value has gone up drastically than ever before. But one type of bowlers whose value never was doubted nor came down are the death bowlers.
Here are the 10 best death bowlers IPL has ever witnessed
10. Mustafizur Rahman – 5.5/10
A lot of them call Mustafizur Rahman a one-season wonder, but what he pulled off in the 2016 season will be remembered for a long time in IPL history. The only foreign cricketer ever to have won the best-emerging player award, Mustafizur Rahman was a brilliant addition for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in their title-winning season.
Mustafizur and Bhuvneshwar formed a deadly death bowling duo, which made the Sunrisers impenetrable. Mustafizur’s metronomic accuracy to hit the blockholes and also his ability to curtail runs towards the end made him untouchable.
Mustafizur had an economy of 6.9 in the 16 matches he played in 2016, picking up 17 big wickets. His iconic yorker to Andre Russell is still remembered as one of the best deliveries bowled in IPL history. He later played for the Mumbai Indians but failed to create a similar impact.
9. James Faulkner – 6/10
One of the most underrated all-rounders in recent years, James Faulkner did a fantastic job while he was in his prime. During his stint with the Rajasthan Royals, Faulkner managed to escalate his status as a T20 all-rounder capable of winning games with both bat and ball.
Faulkner picked up 28 wickets in the 2013 edition, nearly finishing as the highest wicket-taker. He bowls most of the tough overs for the Royals and has done a tremendous job in his first few seasons. Yet, he lost his touch and was axed from the squad before he joined Gujarat Lions in 2016.
Faulkner picked up 59 wickets in 60 IPL matches and is one of the few players to have picked two five-fers in a single season (2013). Despite his economy being on the higher side, his incredible strike-rate of 20.79. Currently, he’s trying his best to find a way through the IPL ranks once again.
8. Ashish Nehra – 6.5/10
Ashish Nehra made his IPL debut for the Mumbai Indians, before he moved to the Delhi Capitals for a couple of seasons. He wasn’t at his best as a death bowler in these early years, but his move to Chennai Super Kings after a failed stint with Pune Warriors India, he became a death bowling genius.
Nehra was Dhoni’s one of main weapons alongside Dwayne Bravo in the death and the Super Kings took giant strides towards greatness. He picked up 22 wickets in the 2015 season and played a crucial role in helping CSK reach the finals.
He then joined the Sunrisers Hyderabad, but injuries never helped him contribute much to the franchise. He picked up 106 wickets in 88 matches, with an economy of 7.84 and a strike-rate of 18. Nehra retired from the game in 2017 after the T20I series against New Zealand.
7. Mohit Sharma – 7/10
Another one of Chennai Super Kings‘ fine products, Mohit Sharma managed to enter the World Cup squad in 2015 courtesy some outstanding death bowling he displayed during 2014 IPL. He made his debut in 2013 and didn’t take long for the Haryana pacer to enter the Indian side.
Mohit Sharma had an amazing back off the hand slower delivery and could hit the blockholes on regular intervals. He won the Purple Cap by picking 23 wickets in the 2013 edition, where the Super Kings made it to the finals and lost to Mumbai Indians.
He then picked up 14, 13 and 13 wickets in the next three seasons before he was shipped off to the Kings XI Punjab. He has 91 wickets to his name in 85 matches in the tournament, at a strike-rate just less than 20 and an economy of 8.41.
6. RP Singh – 7/10
Before he moved out of the Deccan Chargers, RP Singh was perhaps the best bowler in the IPL. The left-arm pacer played a huge role in India’s 2007 World T20 triumph before the Deccan Chargers signed him up for the first-ever IPL season.
He won the purple cap when Deccan Chargers won the title in 2009, where he picked up 23 wickets in 16 matches and also bowled the last over in the final under severe pressure. He was Adam Gilchrist’s go-to option in the death and the fast bowler responded well pretty much every time.
He followed it up with 13 wickets the next season, before moving to Kochi Tuskers Kerala. He later represented the Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rising Pune Supergiant. He picked up 90 wickets in 82 matches and managed to have a brilliant economy of 7.90.
5. Dale Steyn – 7.5/10
One of the greatest fast bowler to have ever played the game, Dale Steyn made a lot of youngsters pick up fast bowling as a profession. Fierce pace, metronomic accuracy and tremendously passionate, he was a box office fast bowler who made life difficult for the batsmen no matter what the colour of the ball was.
Steyn was a part of the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the first three seasons, before moving to the Deccan Chargers. But his best time in the IPL came with Sunrisers Hyderabad. When the team was heavily banking on him to bowl the tough overs, he stood up and did a fabulous job nearly every game. Sunrisers also created an identity for themselves to defend low scores at regular intervals.
Steyn was left from the Sunrisers squad after the 2015 season and later represented Gujarat Lions and Royal Challengers Bangalore very briefly. He picked up 96 wickets in 92 matches, at an outstanding economy of 6.76.
4. Bhuvneshwar Kumar – 8/10
Perhaps the best death bowler Sunrisers Hyderabad had in an amazing pool of bowlers, what Bhuvneshwar Kumar managed to achieve with this club will be remembered for a long time to come. He won the purple cap twice in the six years he’s spent thus far in Hyderabad, winning the title once in 2016.
He’s one of the finest exponents of knuckle balls and blockholes India has produced and also played a good role for the country in the 2017 Champions Trophy and 2019 ICC World Cup. After an injury-driven 2018 edition, he struggled a bit to get back but came back with a decent 13-wicket tally in 2019.
He’s one of the most prolific wicket-takers in IPL, picking 133 wickets in 117 matches. He bowls mostly the tough overs in the game, still has an economy of 7.24, which speaks volumes of how brilliant he’s been with the roles he was assigned with.
3. Jasprit Bumrah – 8.5/10
It won’t take long for this man to take the top spot in these rankings. Jasprit Bumrah is the best bowler in the world across all formats right now and his ability to lock down batsmen made experts compare him to the Windies legendary fast bowlers from the 80s.
Bumrah made his debut in 2013, but people began to notice his death bowling skills in 2016, where he picked up 16 wickets in the season. He then picked up 20, 17 and 19 in the next three seasons, making him Mumbai’s perfect replacement for their legendary Lasith Malinga.
He also turned out to be a massive asset for the Indian team, playing a crucial role in India’s semifinal finish in the 2019 World Cup. Thus far, he’s picked up 82 wickets in 77 matches and has an economy of 7.55 despite bowling most of the tough overs.
2. Dwayne Bravo – 9/10
In his early days as a cricketer, not many realized Dwayne Bravo’s skills as a death bowler, but he managed to polish his skills with the Chennai Super Kings when he joined them in 2011. He was perhaps an above-par player before 2011, but once he moved to Chennai, he became a legend of the format.
He made his mark in the 2012 season, picking up 15 wickets and followed it up with two purple cup winning performances in 2013 and 2015 (Ruled out of 2014 season due to an injury). He holds the record for the most wickets taken in a single season, picking up 32 wickets in 17 matches in 2013.
He was a part of two IPL winning sides in 2011 and 2018 and was a sensational presence in the slog overs. His slower deliveries, off-cutters and out of the box blockholes were really unpredictable and made life miserable for the batsmen. He’s picked up 147 wickets in 134 matches thus far in IPL.
1. Lasith Malinga – 9.5/10
Not just in the IPL, Lasith Malinga could perhaps be the finest death bowler of all time. He’s played for one club throughout his career and has helped the Mumbai Indians reach the pinnacle of the tournament like no other. Mumbai won the trophy four times and on each occasion, there was a Malinga stamp on it.
Malinga was always a threat with his sideway-slinging action and the dip he generated was often difficult to read. He was also pinpoint accurate with his yorkers, making him a Picasso of the art. He won the purple cap twice in a row in 2011 and 2012, picking up 28 and 22 wickets respectively.
He’s the highest wicket-taker in IPL history, picking up 170 wickets in 122 matches at an incredible economy of 7.14. He bowled a sensational final over in the 2019 final against Chennai and those six balls shows why he’s hailed as the best death bowler in white-ball cricket history.
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