The highest wicket-takers in the Indian Premier League (IPL) are a fairly predictable bunch. Lasith Malinga, Amit Mishra, Piyush Chawla, Dwayne Bravo and Harbhajan Singh, are all frontline bowlers who have featured in the tournament since its early days.
Time and again, these bowlers have delivered match-winning performances for their teams. However, on certain occasions, players who are well-known for their batting ability have been able to spring a surprise with the ball.
5 times prolific batsmen picked up wickets in the IPL
1. Adam Gilchrist
Adam Gilchrist was a T20 batsman before the format was even invented and the Australian keeper played several match-winning knocks for his country. Given that he was in one of the all-time great bowling units, he never got the chance to turn his arm over for his side.
It was in his final IPL game that Gilchrist decided to give bowling a try. The game had already been sealed by Kings XI Punjab when Adam Gilchrist brought himself on for the final over.
Funnily enough, wicket-keeping duties were given to bowler Praveen Kumar and not someone with keeping experience like David Miller or Gurkeerat Singh. The batsman on strike was Harbhajan Singh.
And it worked. An innocuous delivery by Adam Gilchrist, which Harbhajan Singh sought to deposit in the stands, fell into the hands of the long on fielder, Gurkeerat Singh. Adam Gilchrist was ecstatic and even broke into a Gangnam Style-inspired dance celebration.
2. Kevin Pietersen
The former England star was a prolific spinner in his younger days. In fact, it was his performances as an all-rounder for Kwazulu-Natal that attracted the attention of then England captain Nasser Hussain.
Pietersen's bowling was hardly needed by the English setup as he prospered at the international level as a batsman. That didn’t stop him from getting 18 international wickets across the format.
While the representation of England's players was restricted in the early days of the IPL, due to clashes with the English domestic season, Kevin Pietersen still managed to play in a handful of IPL matches. He picked a total of 7 wickets at an average of 30.71.
His best performance came in his season as RCB captain, where he picked 4 wickets. However, he couldn’t complement his bowling form with his batting and Royal Challengers Bangalore lost 4 out of 6 games under his leadership.
3. Virat Kohli
The India captain put his bowling skills on display in the early days of his international career.
His dibbly-dobbler style has not earned him many wickets, though he has some prominent victims in international cricket such as AB De Villiers, Quinton De Kock and Brendon McCullum.
In the Indian Premier League, he has four wickets at an average of 92 runs. His best effort came against the Deccan Chargers in 2008, when he picked 2 wickets for 25 runs in a game that Royal Challengers Bangalore won.
4. Rohit Sharma
The phrase "lazy elegance" has become synonymous with Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma. His batting has been a game changer for India and Mumbai Indians in several matches. However, we tend to forget that in his earlier days, he was a genuine part-time bowling option for his teams.
He has 11 international wickets to his name, but has found greater success as a bowler in the IPL and has a total of 15 wickets in the tournament.
Eleven of these came in the 2009 season for the Deccan Chargers. His best bowling performance of the season was his figures of 4/6 versus the Mumbai Indians, which included a hat-trick.
5. Ajinkya Rahane
India's specialist batsman Ajinkya Rahane is one of the most surprising entries on this list. His inclusion is unique because his T20 bowling career comprises of a solitary over in IPL 2009.
Playing for Mumbai Indians, he clean bowled Luke Pomersbach of Australia in the 15th over of the Kings XI Punjab innings. He gave away five runs and got a wicket, which was more than his skipper Sachin Tendulkar could’ve asked for.