Bowling attacks like Brett Lee - Jason Gillespie - Glenn McGrath, James Anderson - Stuard Broad - Graeme Swann and Zaheer Khan - Anil Kumble - Harbhajan Singh are difficult to be replicated in the IPL (Indian Premier League). That has less to do with their sheer quality and longevity but more to do with the fast-paced nature of the IPL that requires franchises to have strong bench-strength.
It is beneficial for IPL teams to have depth in their bowling ranks. That is because, it ensures a variety of bowling options at a team's disposal, something that comes in handy when a key bowler gets injured.
On that note, let us have a look at three teams with the strongest bowling attacks in IPL 2020:
3 teams with the strongest bowling attacks in IPL 2020:
#1: Chennai Super Kings
CSK are the only IPL team in which 13 of the 24 players can be trusted to bowl their full quota of four overs. Even more remarkably, six of them can also strike some meaty blows with the bat as well.
With Deepak Chahar to begin with the new ball and Dwayne Bravo to bowl the death overs, MS Dhoni will be spoilt for choices in IPL 2020. There will also not be any dearth of new-ball partners for Chahar. Dhoni could throw the ball either to Shardul Thakur, Lungi Ngidi or maybe to one of the new buys, Josh Hazlewood and Sam Curran.
South African Ngidi had a dream start IPL campaign in 2018 when he scalped 11 wickets in seven matches at an enviable economy and strike rate of 6 and 14.18 respectively. While we all know about Josh Hazlewood’s exploits in Test cricket, his T20 numbers of 89 wickets in 82 matches at an economy rate of 7.08 are not bad either.
Among spinners, CSK have the third and fourth-highest wicket-takers in IPL history in Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla respectively. The three-time IPL champions also have IPL 2019 Purple Cap-winner Imran Tahir in their ranks.
Both Tahir and Harbhajan Singh can operate in the powerplay overs. Apart from Tahir, CSK also have another leg-spinner in Karn Sharma, while left-arm spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Mitchell Santner always bowl their full quota of ten overs in ODIs.
What people often turn a blind eye to are the middle overs, an area in the IPL where CSK excels in. Harbhajan Singh and Jadeja are known to bowl their overs quite briskly. That is quite advantageous to CSK as opposition batsmen only tend to realise the same after consuming a significant number of deliveries.
Despite bowling the difficult powerplay overs, Harbhajan Singh picked up 16 wickets in 11 matches at an economy rate of 7.09 in last year’s IPL. Jadeja, apart from being the 10th highest wicket-taker in IPL history, averages 24.08 with the bat and dons the finisher’s role as well.
The depth and variety in CSK’s bowling department can let them play just five specialist batsmen because the likes of Jadeja, Bravo and Curran can also shore up the middle-order. While Bravo has made his name as a world-class all-rounder in the shortest format of the game, especially in the IPL, Curran is also slowly establishing himself as one.
Playing for the Kings XI Punjab in his debut IPL campaign last year, Curran picked up a hat-trick against the Delhi Daredevils. He also scored a 24-ball 55 against the Kolkata Knight Riders, which saw the English all-rounder promoted up the batting order to make optimum use of the powerplay overs.
The CSK top order has players like Shane Watson, Suresh Raina and Jadhav who can chip in with a few overs as well. But that won’t be needed because of the world-class spinners present in their roster who would be raring to let loose on the sticky, dry wickets in the UAE.
#2: Delhi Capitals
Delhi Capitals are a side who have the right balance of experience and talent in their ranks. They have express-pacer Kagiso Rabada, leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane and left-armer Axar Patel. The Capitals also have a rejuvenated Ishant Sharma, wily Amit Mishra and former Kings XI Punjab skipper Ravichandran Ashwin among their experienced bowling personnel.
The 22-man Delhi Capitals IPL side also has a plethora of pacers, with eight of their 12 specialist bowlers falling in the fast or medium category. So one thing is clear that Delhi Capitals have abundant new-ball options for exploiting helpful bowling conditions in IPL 2020.
Last year, Ishant Sharma registered his best-ever strike rate and second-best economy rate – 21.23 and 7.58 respectively – in an IPL season.
South African Kagiso Rabada also had a stellar IPL season as he was just one wicket shy of winning the Purple Cap. The South African picked up an impressive tally of 25 wickets at a phenomenal strike rate of 11.28. Both Sharma and Rabada can be equally potent in the death overs of the IPL as they are at the beginning.
Partnering the duo in the powerplay overs could be Ashwin and Lamichhane who have a lot of variations in their arsenals.
Apart from his classical off spin, Ashwin has the carrom ball and leg-spin in his repertoire. Sandeep Lamichhane is also quite a talent. The leg-spinner from Nepal picked up five wickets at a strike rate of 14.4 in three IPL matches in 2018 and has taken various global T20 leagues by storm since then.
Amit Mishra, the highest wicket-taker in IPL history, is quite capable of running through the opposition in the middle overs. There is also the Mitchell Santner-esque Axar Patel, who can get through his overs very quickly, and most importantly, without conceding too many runs.
Mishra can also be a contender to bowl the death overs in the IPL, as was the case at the 2014 T20 World Cup where the leggie scalped ten wickets in six games. Another candidate to bowl the death overs for the Capitals could be IPL 2014 Purple Cap-winner Mohit Sharma who can use his back-of-the-hand slower balls to great effect.
The Capitals also have young guns like Harshal Patel and Avesh Khan and foreign all-rounders like Keemo Paul and Marcus Stoinis in their squad. Recently, South African paceman Anrich Nortje was added to their squad as a replacement for Chris Woakes.
While Australian Stoinis is an established world-class talent, Paul and Nortje are slowly breaking into the mix of players making a name for themselves in the glittery T20 leagues around the world.
Nortje can bowl at 145 kmph while Paul boasts a strike rate of 17.2 in 51 T20 matches. Avesh Khan bowled at a decent pace with the new ball in IPL 2018, while Harshal Patel has been in and around the IPL since 2012.
Despite their bowling riches, batting remains Delhi Capitals’ strong point. But coach Ricky Ponting will know that wickets and tight overs from the bowlers could help the Capitals to their first IPL win.
#3: Sunrisers Hyderabad
For the past four years, Sunrisers Hyderabad have been hailed as the side with the best bowling attack in the IPL. And rightly so, because their bowlers have not only won two Purple Caps, the franchise has also qualified for the IPL playoffs every year since 2016. That is a remarkable achievement, considering their young bowling lineup.
Spearheaded by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rashid Khan, the side boasts talents like Basil Thampi, Sandeep Sharma, Siddharth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed, Shahbaz Nadeem and 35-year-old Mohammad Nabi. All of them have been a success in their own right. While Thampi won the ‘IPL Emerging Player’ award in 2017, all others got to represent their respective national sides on the back of strong IPL performances.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Sandeep Singh, who are likely to start proceedings with the new ball, have the ability to move the ball around.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the IPL Purple Cap winner in both the 2016 and 2017 editions of the competition, is capable of bowling both at the start and end of an innings. Sandeep Singh is effective with his knuckle balls.
Afghanistan internationals Rashid and Nabi, too, are capable of operating with the new ball. In fact, despite bowling the difficult overs, Rashid has the best economy rate – 6.55 – in IPL history. Besides, both can also tonk a few hits into the stands.
For the middle period in IPL matches, Sunrisers can choose from their India trio of Khaleel Ahmed, Kaul and Thampi. While Kaul burst onto the scene in IPL 2018, picking up 21 wickets in 17 matches, Khaleel Ahmed scalped 19 wickets in just nine matches last year. Both were subsequently rewarded with India callups.
The franchise could even choose from the likes of all-rounders Vijay Shankar, Australian Mitchell Marsh and left-arm spinner Fabian Allen to deliver the goods. For variety, they could employ the tall Billy Stanlake who can extract some bounce from the UAE surfaces where the ball generally stays low.
Such is the long and reliable list of bowling options at his disposal that captain David Warner may not mind playing just four specialist batsmen and seven others who could share 20 overs among them, and do so quite well.
However, bowlers alone can’t win you matches. The Sunrisers Hyderabad management will have to do all the permutations and combinations to set up a combination that will help the franchise win their second IPL title in five years.Published 19 Aug 2020, 23:58 IST