From left: Mohit Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Akshar Patel, Pravin Tambe and Yuzvendra Chahal © IANS
After a month and a half of extravagant cricket that saw some tremendous performances with both bat and ball, the Indian Premier League (IPL) 7 has drawn to a close. While this was a tournament that saw scores in excess of 200 being chased down with consummate ease on more than one occasion, there have also been instances where the bowlers came out on top. Shiamak Unwalla looks at the top 10 best bowlers of IPL 2014.
These are not necessarily the top wicket-takers. It is a combination of their effectiveness for their respective sides, their ability to contain opposition batsmen, and the unquantifiable factor that no statistics can quite support but is still apparent in performances.
Mohit Sharma (CSK): Mohit emerged as the leading wicket-taker in IPL 7 after putting in consistent performances throughout. His record speaks for itself: 23 wickets at 19.65 per wicket. His economy rate of 8.4 runs per over was on the higher side, but a bagful of wickets more than made up for that. He frequently bowled at the death, and was effective more often than not.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (SRH): Undisputedly the most impressive pace bowler on display, Bhuvneshwar made the new ball talk and was far more successful than his opening partner Dale Steyn. What really stood out about Bhuvneshwar this season was his ability to bowl effectively at the death. With 20 wickets in 14 games at an average of just 17.7 and an economy rate of merely 6.65, Bhuvneshwar was by far the best bowler for SRH.
Sunil Narine (KKR): That Narine’s name appears on this list should surprise no one. Narine has been one of the best T20 bowlers in the world for a long time, and this season proved no different for the Trinidadian. While the Purple Cap may have eluded him again this time, there is little doubt that Narine was a major reason in KKR’s eventual victory. His figures tell a familiar tale: 21 wickets at 19.38 and an economy of 6.35 — bloated somewhat by the pounding he took in the final. One feels that Narine would have been far more effective had there been consistent support for him early in the tournament.
Lasith Malinga (MI): Perhaps one of the most unfortunate things about Mumbai Indians’ campaign was that their main bowler had to leave for national duty just when they were approaching peak form. Perhaps if Malinga had been there to play the Eliminator against Chennai Super Kings, the story might have been different. In his brief stay, Malinga took 16 wickets in 10 games at an astounding average of just 15.81 and a miserly economy rate of 6.45 to go with it. Malinga was undoubtedly MI’s only real wicket-taking bowler, and his absence could have been a factor in MI’s fourth-place finish.
Akshar Patel (KXIP): The Emerging Player of the Tournament, Akshar spearheaded the Kings XI Punjab’s spin attack, and kept even the seasoned veteran Murali Kartik out of the side. He did not take a lot of wickets, but was very difficult to hit, and invariably gave away very few runs. Akshar eventually finished at the sixth position in the wicket-takers charts, but with an economy of just 6.13, he was the most economical bowler of IPL 7.
Ravindra Jadeja (CSK): While he wasn’t at his miserly best, Ravindra Jadeja was nevertheless an integral part of Chennai’s success. He was more successful than Ashwin, but also more expensive. With 19 wickets in 16 games mean that he was the fourth highest wicket-taker in the tournament, but an economy rate of 8.15 was a bit too high for someone who excels at tying the batsmen down.
Pravin Tambe (RR): The grand old man of the IPL, 42-year-old Pravin Tambe enjoyed yet another successful season with the Rajasthan Royals. Perhaps the highlight of his career, he took a hat-trick to leave eventual champions Kolkata Knight Riders gasping in a match that turned on its head.. Tambe finished with 15 wickets in 13 games at an economy rate of 7.26, but his true worth doesn’t come out in those numbers. He was the man skipper Shane Watson turned to whenever RR were under pressure, and invariably Tambe delivered by taking a wicket — or three in one case!
Shakib al Hasan (KKR): Another bowler who makes the list not for his wicket-taking, but his ability to sustain pressure. The former Bangladeshi captain was an integral part of the KKR set-up with some tight spells which saw him end with an economy rate of just 6.68 with 11 wickets. It was his bowling that pressurised batsmen to try and hit out, which invariably resulted in wickets for the other bowlers.
Harbhajan Singh (MI): While he was not quite amongst the wickets, Harbhajan was MI’s best bowler after Lasith Malinga. He took only 14 wickets in 14 matches, but he was one of the few miserly bowlers for MI. Almost every other bowler from Zaheer Khan to Pragyan Ojha were frequently taken apart by the batsmen, but Bhajji managed to keep virtually every batsman he bowled to quiet. Perhaps with better partners, he could have been a more potent weapon in the MI arsenal.
Yuzvendra Chahal (RCB): The lone spark for an otherwise disappointing Royal Challengers Bangalore attack, Yuzvendra Chahal impressed one and all with his guile. Perhaps bearing the burden of the RCB attack almost exclusively on his shoulders was too much in the end, as his figures suffered in the last few games he played. However, one feels that with a little more teeth in the rest of the attack, Chahal could well have ended up with much more wickets than just 12. An economy rate of seven is the result of a few expensive games in the latter part of the tournament, as he was usually around the 5-runs per over mark for the first few games.
Honourable mentions: Varun Aaron (RCB) 16 wickets, Mitchell Starc (RCB) 14 wickets, Ravichandran Ashwin (CSK) 16 wickets, Karn Sharma (SRH) 15 wickets, Umesh Yadav (KKR) 11 wickets, Sandeep Sharma (KXIP) 18 wickets and Karanveer Singh (KXIP) 11 wickets.
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(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)