The first half of the now-suspended IPL 2021 saw some stupendous bowling performances. We witnessed Harshal Patel's unforeseen rise to become a death-bowling superstar, Rahul Chahar's spin wizardry to bolster his team's middle-overs and Andre Russell's record-breaking fifer.
And, add to that consistency, adaptability and sheer aplomb and we have the frontrunners for the Purple Cap, which is awarded to the top wicket-taker every year.
Even the best in the white-ball business, including Rashid Khan and Yuzvendra Chahal, don't figure.
Last year's chart-toppers Kagiso Rabada, Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult and Anrich Nortje are nowhere near repeating the feat in IPL 2021, paving the way for new stars to emerge.
Let's look at three players who could have won the Purple Cap had IPL 2021 gone as planned.
3 players who could have won the Purple Cap in IPL 2021
#3 Chris Morris
Rajasthan Royals were lampooned for signing Chris Morris for a massive INR 16.25 crore. However, the South African all-rounder came good with both bat and ball.
In the pressing absence of both Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes, Morris stood up as skipper Sanju Samson's most experienced operator. In seven games, the 34-year-old picked up 14 wickets at a staggering average of 16.
His economy rate has hovered around 8.62, which is substantial considering he bowled in the most difficult phases of the game.
Morris' inconsistency with the ball was one of his most vexing issues in the past. But this season the all-rounder was on the money more often than not, hitting the hard lengths and rarely spraying on the leg-side.
Morris' spell of 4-23 against the Kolkata Knight Riders - which included the wickets of Russell, Dinesh Karthik and Pat Cummins - was one of the best of IPL 2021. Had the season continued, Morris would have been one of the front runners for the Purple Cap.
#2 Avesh Khan
Prior to IPL 2021, Avesh Khan had played just nine IPL matches across four seasons, collecting five wickets. He went wicketless in his last two campaigns and cost over 10 runs per over consistently in the last three years.
No one would have expected the same right-arm pacer to be IPL 2021's second-highest wicket-taker. In eight games this year, Avesh has accounted for 14 batsmen, including the big three in Indian cricket - MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
His average of 16.50 and an economy rate of 7.70 are nothing if not impressive. The 24-year-old kept to his strengths throughout the tournament, holding on to nagging lines and lengths, hurrying the batsmen with pace and using his cutters and slower-ones as the surprise ingredient.
Avesh's rise allowed the Delhi Capitals to sit Nortje out and play the extra overseas batsman in Steve Smith. This ultimately proved decisive for their stability on the points table.
Avesh's wicket-taking consistency could be gaged from the fact that he doesn't feature in the top-15 bowling performances but still ranks second on the total wickets chart.
With these skills, it wouldn't be a surprise if Avesh dons the Purple Cap at the end of IPL 2021.
#1 Harshal Patel
Harshal Patel took IPL 2021 by storm by romping to a five-wicket haul in the tournament opener. He won the Purple Cap for his efforts and has protected it ever since, with no one challenging him for the crown.
Harshal has picked up 17 wickets from seven matches at an unbelievable average of 15.12. The wiry all-rounder from Haryana also proved himself as the Royal Challengers Bangalore's death-overs specialist.
Virat Kohli often brought him in the eighth over and matched him up against every opposition's biggest hitters. And Patel delivered game after game, giving his captain the luxury of using other bowlers freely.
Patel's assortment of variations ranged from off-cutters, leg-cutters and slow-bouncers to blistering yorkers. Patel had the dexterity, the X-factor, the backing of the team management, and, perhaps, even luck on his side.
He, along with Avesh and Morris, will get the chance to fight for the Purple Cap when IPL 2021 resumes.