The Indian Premier League (IPL) is renowned for producing enthralling cricket, particularly from batsmen who can hit the ball a long way. Over the years, though, bowlers have also made their impact in the IPL.
If we look at spinners, a number of them have developed variations to try and unsettle marauding batsmen. Some slow bowlers like to mix their deliveries up to flummox the batsman. Others tend to fire them through, trying to beat the batsmen for pace.
With the field restrictions and rules heavily loaded in favour of batsmen, spinners have a tough task on hand. To their credit, some have found out ways to succeed, though.
Five spinners who could have rousing IPL 2021 campaigns:
With the 2021 edition of the IPL all set to get underway on April 9, here’s a look at five slow bowlers who could make a significant impact in the tournament.
#1 Rashid Khan
The Sunrisers Hyderabad spinner has been the most effective slow bowler in the IPL over the last few seasons.
Having featured in a number of different T20 leagues across the globe, including the BBL, Rashid Khan has honed his skills in the format incredibly well.
What is amazing about the leg-spinner is his ability to deceive batsmen even when they are trying to play him out safely. Rashid Khan has numerous tricks in his bag to catch unsuspecting batsmen off guard, and he just seems to get better and better with every edition of the IPL.
Last year, Khan was among the top performers in the IPL. He picked up 20 wickets in 16 matches at a strike rate of 19.2. His economy rate of 5.37 is proof of how difficult batsmen found to get him away.
It was in IPL 2020 that the 22-year-old came up with his career-best performance of 3 for 7 against Delhi Capitals.
Rashid Khan has had an impressive IPL career so far, taking 75 wickets in 62 matches at a strike rate of 19.68 and an economy of 6.24. This season too, SRH will look at Rashid Khan as one of their trump cards.
#2 Varun Chakravarthy
On both occasions, though, his fitness let him down. Chakravarthy will be keen to make news for the right reasons when he steps out for the Kolkata-based franchise in IPL 2021.
Chakravarthy nearly ended up playing for India on the basis of an impressive showing for KKR in IPL 2020. The 29-year-old from Tamil Nadu claimed 17 wickets in 13 matches at a strike rate of 18.33 and an economy of just over seven.
In a match against Delhi Capitals, he registered career-best figures of 5 for 20. This performance earned Chakravarthy his maiden India call-up. DC needed 195 for win the contest, but the leg-spinner's exploits restricted them to only 135 for 9.
Chakravarthy used his wrong'un to great effect on the day, deceiving Rishabh Pant, Shimron Hetmyer and Axar Patel. He also got the scalps of Shreyas Iyer and Marcus Stoinis on what turned out to be a memorable day for him.
The leg-spinner made an inauspicious IPL debut in 2019 for Punjab Kings and was hammered for plenty in the only game he played. Last season, though, he demonstrated what he was capable of, something he would look to build on in IPL 2021.
#3 Shreyas Gopal
If you can bamboozle greats like Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers more than once, you have got some talent. Rajasthan Royals’ leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal did the unthinkable in IPL 2019.
He dismissed Kohli and De Villiers in Jaipur and was adjudged the Player of the Match award as RR won the contest by seven wickets. When the teams met again in Bengaluru, Gopal sent back Kohli, De Villiers and Stoinis to complete a hat-trick in a rain-curtailed game.
The 27-year-old from Karnataka was one of the most impressive performers with the ball in IPL 2019. He picked up 20 wickets in 14 matches at a strike rate of 14.4 and an economy rate of 7.22. Gopal’s ability to keep things tight and then slip in his variations worked wonders.
The leg-spinner suffered a setback of sorts in IPL 2020. Despite playing in all 14 games for RR, he only managed to claim ten wickets at a strike rate of 30. Gopal’s economy rate, too, was on the higher side - 8.54. Unlike in the previous season, he seemed to be lacking in rhythm.
Gopal’s struggles coincided with those of Rajasthan, as the franchise failed to impress and finished last. Towards the second half of IPL 2020, though, the leg-spinner seemed to have found some confidence.
In IPL 2021, RR would hope that Gopal rediscovers the form that troubled Kohli and De Villiers.
#4 Yuzvendra Chahal
IPL 2021 could be hugely significant for Yuzvendra Chahal. The experienced leg-spinner has had a torrid time in international cricket of late.
He was brutally smashed by Australia in the ODI series Down Under. Except for one match, where he came in as a concussion substitute, Chahal had a poor time in the T20I series as well.
Chahal’s fortunes did not change, as he was battered by England at home. In such a scenario, one may wonder whether Chahal would be effective in the IPL. However, for some strange reason, Chahal for RCB is a totally different proposition than Chahal for India.
By the time IPL 2020 came around, the 30-year-old had stopped being an automatic choice in the playing XI in the limited-overs formats for India. In fact, he seemed to have lost confidence as a bowler after being whacked by England in the 2019 World Cup encounter.
Nevertheless, he managed to come into his own in IPL 2020. Transforming himself into a match-winner once again, Chahal claimed a rich haul of 21 wickets in 15 matches at a strike rate of 16.33 and an economy rate of 7.08.
Kohli will hope that Chahal, the wicket-taking bowler, turns up in IPL 2021.
#5 Ravi Bishnoi
In comparison to the other names in the list, Ravi Bishnoi is a greenhorn. However, the confident manner in which he stood up against some class batsmen in IPL 2020 won the youngster many admirers.
He was one of the many heroes in India’s U19 World Cup campaign in 2020, which ended in a shock defeat to Bangladesh in the final. In fact, Bishnoi (17 scalps) was the highest wicket-taker in the tournament.
The 20-year-old was picked up by Punjab Kings in the IPL 2020 auction for INR 2 crore.
The franchise showed faith in him and played him in all 14 games in the tournament. Bishnoi repaid the trust with 12 wickets at 25.5 and an economy rate of 7.37 - highly commendable figures for a first-timer in the big league.
Beyond the numbers, it was the leg-spinner’s attitude that stood out. Every time he came on to bowl, it looked like Bishoi was ready for the battle.
He has displayed some serious talent during his short IPL career. His best of 3 for 29 came against SRH in a game where he got the better of established batsmen like David Warner and Jonny Bairstow.