IPL's Deadliest Death Bowlers
Twenty20 has come to be known as something of a batsman's game. Big bats and small boundaries mean that bowling in this format is no easy task. Bowling at the end of a T20 innings, the death overs, is even harder.
Death bowling is now a fine and crucial art in T20 cricket. Death bowlers must be able to keep the batsman guessing through a variety of yorkers, slower balls, bouncers and slower-ball bouncers.
The yorker, however, is the staple of any death bowler's armoury. A good yorker prevents the batsman from managing to get under the ball, taking sixes out of the game. Miss yorker length by a touch and you have served up a half-volley and risk being dispatched out of the ground.
For this reason, death bowlers require both tremendous skill but also the ability to execute these skills under pressure. The following top five IPL death bowlers boast all these assets.
All statistics courtesy of www.iplt20.com
5. James Faulkner
While Rajasthan's James Faulkner bore the full brunt of Glenn Maxwell's onslaught bowling against Kings XI Punjab this week, he remains one of the top death bowlers in the tournament.
The Australian left-armer was second in the wicket-taking standings in 2013 with an impressive economy rate of 6.75. Faulkner has an effective yorker, a vital tool for any death bowler, as well as a brilliant back-of-the-hand slower ball.
Rajasthan Royals will be hoping that Faulkner can deliver at the death again this year as they look to make the play-offs in IPL 7.
4. Dwayne Bravo
Deadly Dwayne has honed his bowling skills at T20 tournaments all around the globe, and he is now an expert exponent of the art of death bowling.
Bravo combines an accurate yorker with a mixture of slower balls to ensure that his bowling is hard for batsmen to get away. The West Indian right-armer bowled 135 dot balls in last year's edition of the IPL, showing that he is a reliable option at the end of games.
Dwayne Bravo also has a knack of taking crucial wickets at regular intervals, picking up an orange cap-winning haul of 32 wickets last year. Bravo is not just brilliant with the bat but deadly with the ball as well.
3. Dale Steyn
Dale Steyn is widely regarded as the best fast bowler in the world over all forms of the game. An aggressive opening and closing bowler, Steyn boasts swing, pace and precision which makes him a real handful to face.
The Sunrisers paceman bowled the most dot balls in IPL 2013, with 211 dots in 407 balls. The South African not only stops the runs but takes regular wickets as well, blunting any late batting charges.
Steyn is one of the fastest bowlers in the tournament but has learnt to mix his pace and length well making him a difficult death bowler to face.
2. Sunil Narine
Sunil Narine is the only spinner on this list and is the best slow bowler in the world in the death overs.
Entrusting the final deliveries of any innings to a slow bowler is risky for a captain, but Gautam Gambhir knows that, with the West Indian mystery spinner, he is in safe hands.
Narine bowled a dot ball every 2.13 balls in IPL 6, taking 22 wickets at an average of 15.90. His figures are hugely impressive for a bowler that is used frequently in powerplay overs and at the death.
What makes Narine such a deadly death bowler is his unpredictability; the batsmen can't hit the ball for boundaries if they don't know which way it will spin.
The KKR spinner also changes his pace well to prevent batsmen setting themselves for the big shots they are searching for at the end of an innings.
1. Lasith Malinga
Lethal Lasith is undoubtedly the best in the death-bowling business. His low slingy arm makes the ball hard to pick up and even harder to hit over to the ropes.
Malinga took 20 wickets in IPL 6 at an average of 23.40, bowling a total of 147 dots from his 293 balls bowled.
His weapon of choice is the toe-crunching yorker, which is almost impossible to hit for six. When Malinga isn't rearranging your stumps, he is beating you with his well-disguised change of pace or his sharp short ball.
While Narine may confuse with his many variations, batsmen expect Malinga's yorker but are unable to do anything about it. That is what makes the Sri Lankan the deadliest death bowler in the IPL.