The IPL is generally perceived to be a batsman's game, but many bowlers have made an impact in the T20 tournament with their guile and variations. Be it bowling in the powerplay overs or at the death, bowlers need to think on their feet to counter marauding batsmen.
The IPL awards the Purple Cap to the bowler who takes the most wickets in a season. The cap is worn by the player with the most wickets at any given time during an IPL campaign. The Purple Cap award is eventually presented to the highest wicket-taker in that edition of the IPL.
With IPL 2021 set to start on Friday, let’s delve into the 13-year history of the tournament and look at the bowlers who have donned the prestigious Purple Cap.
IPL 2008 Purple Cap Winner – Sohail Tanvir (Rajasthan Royals)
Matches 11 | Wickets 22 | Ave 12.09 | BB 6-14 | Economy 6.46 | 4w 1 | 5w 1
Rajasthan Royals (RR) signed Sohail Tanvir for only US$ 100,000 ahead of the inaugural IPL 2008 season. But he went on to outshine some of the biggest names in the tournament.
Against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in Jaipur, Tanvir registered fabulous match figures of 4-0-14-6, the then best figures in T20 cricket. Unsurprisingly, he played a massive role in RR’s triumph that season, picking up 22 wickets in 11 games.
ESPNCricinfo’s statistical analysis rated the Pakistani left-arm pacer as the tournament's most successful player in the league stage. They also named him the second-most valuable player in the tournament after Shaun Marsh, taking his performance against salary as key factors.
Unfortunately, Tanvir never returned to play the IPL, as Pakistan players have not been included in the competition since 2009 due to the political unrest between the two neighbouring countries.
IPL 2009 Purple Cap Winner – RP Singh (Deccan Chargers)
Matches 16 | Wickets 23 | Ave 18.13 | BB 4-22 | Economy 6.98 | 4w 1
A year-and-half later, when the IPL moved base to the rainbow nation due to the parliamentary elections in India, RP Singh, once again, made merry on the South African pitches, taking 23 wickets to help the now-defunct Deccan Chargers (DC) to a title win.
RP Singh was especially exceptional in the death overs in the tournament final. With Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) needing 31 off 18 balls, the left-arm pacer bowled a four-run over.
He returned to defend 15 off the final over, producing match-winning figures of 4-0-16-1, phenomenal numbers for someone who bowled in the Powerplay and the death. He also got the wicket of Jacques Kallis with the new ball.
IPL 2010 Purple Cap Winner – Pragyan Ojha (Deccan Chargers)
Matches 16 | Wickets 21 | Ave 20.42 | BB 3-26 | Economy 7.29
The Purple Cap did not leave the DC camp in IPL 2010, as a left-arm bowler won the award for the third consecutive season.
In a spinner dominated edition, Pragyan Ojha, with 23 wickets, became the first of two spinners to have won the Purple Cap in IPL history.
DC had a good season, finishing second in the points table, but lost to CSK in the semi-final.
IPL 2011 Purple Cap Winner – Lasith Malinga (Mumbai Indians)
Matches 16 | Wickets 28 | Ave 13.39 | BB 5-13 | Economy 5.95 | 5w 1
Finally, a right-arm bowler won the IPL Purple Cap award. And quite fitting that it was Lasith Malinga who bagged it, as he was in the form of a lifetime.
With 28 scalps, Malinga became the first bowler to breach the 25-wicket mark in an IPL season. The Sri Lankan pacer also became the first Purple Cap winner to go under six runs an over.
In the fourth game of IPL 2011 in Delhi, Malinga dismantled the Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals) lineup with a five-for.
Mumbai Indians (MI) had a good outing in 2011 courtesy of the Malinga show, but a Chris Gayle hurricane caught them in the second qualifier. Gayle’s 47-ball 89 took the game away from MI, despite Malinga returning figures of 4-0-24-0.
IPL 2012 Purple Cap Winner – Morne Morkel (Delhi Daredevils)
Matches 16 | Wickets 25 | Ave 18.12 | BB 4-20 | Economy 7.19 | 4w 1
Delhi Daredevils (now called Delhi Capitals) had a fabulous campaign in IPL 2012. Riding on the success of Morne Morkel, who took 25 wickets, they topped the league table to cruise to the qualifiers.
One of Morkel’s most memorable outings came against RR. With the Royals needing a manageable 15 runs to win off the final two overs, the lanky South African pacer delivered a sensational three-run over, dismissing the well-set Brad Hodge to help Delhi win the game.
After losing that first qualifier, the Daredevils surprisingly benched Morkel for the knockout clash against CSK. The tactic spectacularly backfired and the Daredevils were knocked out of the competition.
However, the mention of IPL 2012 would be incomplete without naming KKR’s Sunil Narine. He set the tournament alight with 24 wickets at 13.5 and an economy rate of 5.47. He bowled the Kolkata side to tournament glory but missed the Purple Cap by a solitary wicket.
IPL 2013 Purple Cap Winner – Dwayne Bravo (Chennai Super Kings)
Matches 18 | Wickets 32 | Ave 15.53 | BB 4-42 | Economy 7.95 | 4w 1
In IPL 2013, Dwayne Bravo became the first bowler to breach the 30-wicket mark in the competition.
Used mainly as a death bowler, Bravo starred for CSK, helping them top the league stage and qualify for the playoffs for the sixth consecutive time.
One of the best shows from the West Indian all-rounder came in the tournament final. Bravo picked up 4 for 42, cleaning up the Mumbai Indians’ lower middle-order. However, his efforts went in vain, as CSK failed to cross the finish line against Mumbai Indians.
Click here for today IPL match stadium.
IPL 2014 Purple Cap Winner – Mohit Sharma (Chennai Super Kings)
Matches 16 | Wickets 23 | Ave 19.65 | BB 4-14 | Economy 8.39 | 4w 1
After impressing in the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy season, Mohit Sharma landed an IPL contract with CSK. He was brilliant for the Chennai-based franchise in IPL 2014, picking up 23 wickets at an average of 16.3.
The 2014 edition of the IPL saw the first half of the tournament played in the UAE due to the parliamentary elections in India. But Mohit Sharma adjusted well, continuing from where he had left off in the previous season.
CSK qualified for their seventh straight IPL playoffs, with Mohit Sharma playing a significant role to win the Purple Cap. His best show came against the defending champions Mumbai Indians, where he had match figures of 4-0-14-4.
However, CSK lost in the second qualifier to Kings XI Punjab (now called Punjab Kings). Less than a year later, though, Mohit Sharma played in the 2015 50-over World Cup for India.
Sunil Narine again came close to winning the Purple Cap, claiming 21 wickets and going for only 6.35. His efforts saw KKR lift the IPL title for the second time in three years.
IPL 2015 Purple Cap Winner – Dwayne Bravo (Chennai Super Kings)
Matches 17 | Wickets 26 | Ave 16.38 | BB 3-22 | Economy 8.14
The Purple Cap didn’t leave the CSK camp, as it returned to Dwayne Bravo in 2015.
The Trinidadian all-rounder enjoyed a consistent campaign as CSK qualified for the final, where they once again failed to cross the Mumbai Indians hurdle.
Bravo picked up the crucial wickets of Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya in the final. But CSK were chasing 42 runs too many in the tournament final.
Nevertheless, Dwayne Bravo became the first bowler to win the IPL Purple Cap twice, taking 26 wickets in 17 games.
IPL 2016 Purple Cap Winner – Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Matches 17 | Wickets 23 | Ave 21.3 | BB 4-29 | Economy 7.42 | 4w 1
Bhuvneshwar Kumar carried the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) bowling in a batsman-dominated IPL edition in 2016, as SRH became the newest IPL winners.
Bhuvi mastered the powerplay and death overs, providing the much-needed cushion to his batters. He found able support from his fellow pacers – Mustafizur Rahman and Barinder Sran.
The 2016 IPL final saw an average scoring rate of 10.2, but Bhuvneshwar Kumar returned fabulous figures of 4-0-25-0. RCB required 37 runs off the final three overs, but Bhuvi pegged them back by conceding only 14 in two.
Not only did he pick the crucial wickets (23 in total) during the tournament, he also kept the runs in check.
IPL 2017 Purple Cap Winner – Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Matches 14 | Wickets 26 | Ave 14.2 | BB 5-19 | Economy 7.05 | 5w 1
Bhuvneshwar Kumar continued his good form in the IPL 2017 season too. The edition saw him pick his first five-for in the IPL.
The right-armer brought up the feat against KXIP, helping SRH defend their 159-run total by five runs. He bagged the top three and later returned to clean the tail, bagging fabulous match figures of 4-0-19-5.
Despite David Warner and Bhuvi bagging the Orange and Purple Caps, respectively, defending champions SRH failed to reach the playoffs, though.
Nevertheless, Bhuvi became the second player to bag two IPL Purple Caps after Dwayne Bravo, but the first to do so in consecutive editions of the competition.
IPL 2018 Purple Cap Winner – Andrew Tye (Kings XI Punjab)
Matches 14 | Wickets 24 | Ave 18.66 | BB 4-16 | Economy 8 | 4w 3
Not often does a team with the tournament's leading wicket-taking bowler languishes near the bottom of the points table. But that was what happened to KXIP in 2018.
Despite a brilliant show by Andrew Tye, who took 24 wickets in 14 games, KKR found novel ways to lose matches as they ended the tournament in the second-last position.
In his previous IPL campaign, Tye became the first player to claim a hat-trick on his IPL debut. In 2018, he claimed three four-wicket hauls, but KXIP lost all on each occasion.
Nevertheless, Tye became the first Australian and first Kings XI Punjab player to win the IPL Purple Cap.
IPL 2019 Purple Cap Winner – Imran Tahir (Chennai Super Kings)
Matches 17 | Wickets 26 | Ave 16.57 | BB 4-12 | Economy 6.69 | 4w 2
The Purple Cap returned to the CSK camp in 2019, as Imran Tahir almost guided the yellow brigade to their fourth title in the competition.
The South African leg-spinner, in the process, became the second spinner to bag the IPL Purple Cap, Pragyan Ojha in 2010 being the first. With 26 wickets, Tahir registered the most scalps by a spinner in a single IPL campaign.
Dismissing CSK's Dad-Army moniker, the then 40-year-old Tahir bowled CSK to wins against KKR and DC with four-fors. He was a threat in the tournament final as well, dismissed the dangerous duo of Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan.
In one of the most thrilling finals in IPL history, CSK ended up losing against MI by a solitary run, though.
IPL 2020 Purple Cap Winner – Kagiso Rabada (Delhi Capitals)
Matches 17 | Wickets 30 | Ave 18.26 | BB 4-24 | Economy 8.34 | 4w 2
Kagiso Rabada missed the Purple Cap in the IPL 2019 season by a single wicket. Nevertheless, he made amends in 2020 by becoming the second bowler in competition history to breach the 30-wicket mark.
Competing in the bubble, playing away from home conditions and with new rules such as a ban on saliva use, the COVID-19 pandemic presented unique challenges to bowlers in IPL 2020 in the UAE.
However, Rabada displayed immense mental fortitude to triumph against the odds. Along with his compatriot Anrich Nortje, Rabada helped the Delhi Capitals to success in the Arabian dustbowls.
With raw pace and guile, he rattled RCB in a league match, claiming 4 for 24. He also starred in the wins against CSK, RR and SRH in the second qualifier.
Rabada had a rare off day in the tournament final, though, and Mumbai Indians capitalised on the same. Delhi did well to finish second, losing the trophy to the best team in the tournament – Mumbai Indians.