With the advent of fast-paced T20 cricket such as the Indian Premier League (IPL), quality death bowlers have become hard to come by.
Last year, we saw only a few bowlers able to make a mark in the latter stages of innings, with a number of usually reliable options taken for runs mercilessly. Most teams attempted to address this problem by spending big in the IPL 2021 player auction, which was conducted in February earlier this year.
In this article, we attempt to predict the death-bowling pairs of all 8 teams and rank them in order from worst to best.
#8 RCB - Kyle Jamieson and Navdeep Saini
At the time of the auction, the pairing between Kyle Jamieson and Navdeep Saini was more than respectable.
But both players have poor track records. While Jamieson was thrashed by Australia in a recent T20I series and even lost his place in the New Zealand side, Saini hasn't played a lot of top-level cricket since his poor showing in IPL 2020.
Jamieson and Saini should still make the RCB playing XI, but they pale in comparison to the other combinations on this list. Kohli's death-bowling woes might be set to continue in IPL 2021.
#7 RR - Chris Morris and Kartik Tyagi
The absence of Jofra Archer, at least for the first half of the tournament, has left a gaping hole in the RR playing XI. While the Englishman might be replaced by either Mustafizur Rahman (once he is cleared to play) or Andrew Tye, death-bowling responsibilites might fall on Chris Morris and Kartik Tyagi.
Morris' astronomical price tag comes with equally astronomical expectations, and he'll have to either replicate or better his performances for the Royal Challengers Bangalore from last year . But the South African has extremely little game-time under his belt in the recent past and might be more than a bit rusty in IPL 2021.
Tyagi, on the other hand, impressed all with his yorkers and confidence in the last season, but never took multiple wickets in a game. While the youngster's ceiling is very high, this IPL may see RR leak a number of runs at the death.
#6 KKR - Pat Cummins and Andre Russell
Pat Cummins was retained for his massive IPL 2020 contract amount, and he'll have a lot to do in order to justify that price. He wasn't very effective at the death last year, but he is likely to be handed that responsibility this season.
Cummins' partner isn't anywhere near finalized. Andre Russell should make the cut to take up a role he was decent at in the previous campaign, despite his frequent injury struggles. Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Prasidh Krishna were used sparingly at the death in IPL 2020, while Sunil Narine is a shadow of the bowler he once was.
KKR will have to take a gamble on Cummins and Russell - one that doesn't seem like it has high chances of playing off.
#5 PBKS - Mohammed Shami and Jhye Richardson
On paper, the pairing of Mohammed Shami and Jhye Richardson looks lethal.
But Shami hasn't played competitive cricket since breaking his arm in the 1st Test of India's Australia tour, and might not be able to get back to his best immediately.
Richardson, meanwhile, is on the back of a prolific Big Bash League season. However, pacers who've found success in Australia's premier T20 competition have historically struggled in the IPL owing to the vastly different wickets on offer.
PBKS were woeful at the death last year, at least in the first half of the season. And while they are likely to show a few improvements, they may not be amongst the best death-bowling partnerships on display in IPL 2021.