The importance of death bowling in T20 cricket can't be over-emphasized, and many of the highly-ranked teams have some top-notch death bowlers in their ranks. This is true for the IPL as well, a league where quite a few franchises have succeeded in solving the death bowling puzzle. Their rivals, however, still struggle to contain the runs in the end overs.
Year after year, death bowlers, mostly pacers, go for a lot of money in the auction, and that shows how desperate franchises are to sort out this crucial area. We've seen some exceptional death bowling performances in the IPL, and we've also seen some shoddy death bowling that has cost teams playoff spots or even the title.
On that note, let's now try to predict five bowlers who'll have the best economy rate in the all-important death overs.
Note: Overs 16-20 have been considered as death overs here.
Honorable Mentions: Rashid Khan (if he does bowl at the death), Nathan Coulter-Nile, and T Natarajan.
#5 Varun Chakravarthy (Kolkata Knight Riders)
This one is as much a suggestion as it is a prediction. Varun Chakravarthy rewarded the KKR management's faith in him in IPL 2020 and emerged as the highest wicket-taker for the side. With 17 wickets in 13 matches at a miserly economy rate of 6.84, Chakravarthy was one of the positives in a pretty sub-par season for KKR.
What was more impressive about his performance was his courage to bowl the tougher overs. While he usually bowled in the middle overs, he shone in the few opportunities he got bowling at the death. With Sunil Narine not likely to be a part of their first-choice playing XI, Varun is an able death bowling option for them to consider.
KKR plays three games in Chennai and four games in Ahmedabad, and both are spin-friendly venues for IPL 2021. On such surfaces, Varun, with his many variations and accuracy, could prove very effective.
KKR's death bowling was woeful last season, with Andre Russell and Lockie Ferguson emerging as the most dependable in their squad. However, with Russell's workload needing some management and Lockie unlikely to be a part of their playing XI, Varun is a great alternative to consider.
He's not only a defensive option but is also certain to pick up more wickets if he bowls at the death. So, while he isn't an established death bowler yet, Varun Chakravarthy has the potential to become one, and he certainly will have a great economy rate if he does bowl in those overs.
#4 Chris Morris (Rajasthan Royals)
While the last one involved considerable elaboration on my part, this one is much easier. Chris Morris had a solid season with the ball for RCB and he did a pretty good job bowling in the death. This season, there will be a lot of pressure on him since he comes into this tournament with a ₹16.25 crore price tag.
He'll also have to lead RR's pace battery with ace bowler Jofra Archer likely to miss out due to injury. Different people have different opinions on whether or not Morris will be able to handle the pressure, but his impressive numbers in T20 cricket suggest that he will.
Morris has a career economy of 7.81 in the IPL, and lots of those overs have come at the death. He has played over 223 T20 games and is just the experienced presence that RR needs.
Yes, RR plays ten of their fourteen games in venues that batters will favor (Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bangalore). However, Morris's experience and skill should ensure that he finishes among the top death bowlers this season.