Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 November 2019

IPL 2019 – Lasith Malinga, Sunil Narine, Ravichandran Ashwin and the T20 league's other pioneering bowlers

Here is a look at the 10 highest wicket-takers in the 11-year history of the Indian Premier League T20 competition

When the Indian Premier League took off in 2008, cricket purists were filled with dread. This is a competition where bowling careers will go to die, some may have remarked.

Eleven years later, it is safe to say that has not been the case. Careers have been made (such as that of India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin), and they have been revived (like in the case of Ashish Nehra, the now-retired India fast bowler).

Sure, our interpretation of what makes good bowling figures have changed: gone are the days when an economy rate of 4.00 or 4.50 used to be looked down on. Today if a bowler can keep it down to about 6.00 or 6.50, that is good effort from him.

That said, there has been plenty of progress to take note of.

For instance, the other big concern in the early days was whether spin bowlers would be able to survive sustained onslaughts from batsmen on flat pitches and small grounds. Here, too, there has been plenty of progress. Five of the 10 most successful bowlers in IPL history are spinners.

Granted the advent of T20 cricket has forced many of them, especially the finger-spinning types, to bend the rules (no pun intended here). The doosra – an invention of former Pakistan off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq nearly 20 years ago – went from fringe to mainstream.

A new bowling category emerged, that of the 'mystery spinner'. "Is he an off-spinner or a leg-spinner?" "Neither. He is a mystery spinner." Sunil Narine of the West Indies, Sri Lanka's Ajantha Mendis and the South African Johan Botha are notable examples.

Narine has been one of the IPL's biggest success stories and, although his bowling recently came under scrutiny due to his action, he has managed to reinvent himself to continue being relevant in this format.

Another interesting development in the modern game for which the IPL deserves some credit is the return of the wrist spinner. If Shane Warne is recognised for reviving the craft in the early 1990s, it was going out of vogue around the time the competition got off the ground more than a decade ago.

Today the world's most sought-after bowlers are leggies, such as Rashid Khan, Adil Rashid, Yuzvendra Chahal, Amit Mishra, Piyush Chawla, Sandeep Lamichhane, Adam Zampa and Samuel Badree.

In fact, two leg-spinners – Mishra and Chawla – appear on the all-time wicket-takers list.

Meanwhile, Brad Hogg and Kuldeep Yadav may belong to different generations, but might their success in the IPL herald the rise of more left-arm leg-spinners? We will have to wait and see.

And what to say about the fast bowlers? Quite evidently, it has taken all kinds to do well in the IPL.

In short, even the purists will concede that the IPL, with all its ills, has provided the stage for all kinds of bowlers – to not only thrive but also make loads of money on top of that, which has to be the hallmark of a healthy competition.Lasith Malinga has used his slingy action and toe-crunching yorkers to top the bowling chart, but more conventional medium pacers have done well, too, such as Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Dwayne Bravo. Out-and-out fast bowlers – both right-armers (like Umesh Yadav) and left-armers (like Nehra) – have also taken plenty of wickets.

To see the list of the most successful batsmen in the tournament's history, check out the photo gallery above. To move on to the next image, click on the arrows, or if using a mobile device simply swipe.

Updated: March 23, 2019 05:44 PM

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