Bowlers get a raw deal in T20 cricket, with the shorter format geared towards monumental totals and big hitting.
It’s understandable, for T20 brings the type of explosive action that gets the punters through the gate and makes for such an intriguing spectacle, especially in the case of the IPL 2014.
With batsmen looking to smash every other ball out of the ground, it’s tough for the majority of bowlers. But for the finest in the field, it represents an opportunity.
The very best exponents of the limited overs game will take advantage of players looking to play in an ultra aggressive manner and help themselves to wickets. Just as important in T20 cricket though, is being economical and restricting the opposition's scoring.
Sunil Narine has been the standout bowler in the tournament so far. After his superb spell in the opening game of the tournament, legend of the game Wasim Akram paid tribute to Narine's skill set, per Bobilli Vijay Kumar of The Times of India:
"I have tried to stand at the umpire's position and play him in my mind. Each time, the ball turned in exactly the opposite direction," Akram said.
So after the Chennai Super Kings beat the Delhi Daredevils by a whopping 93 runs on Monday, let's run the rule over the bowlers that are impressing in this tournament so far in terms of wicket taking, economical bowling and the best averages.
Top Wicket Takers And Best Figures
|IPL 2014: Top Wicket Takers|
|SP Narine||Kolkata Knight Riders||5||38||4/20|
|SL Malinga||Mumbai Indians||5||52||4/23|
|R Ashwin||Chennai Super Kings||4||44||2/3|
|JD Unadkat||Delhi Daredevils||4||57||3/32|
|YS Chahal||Royal Challengers Bangalore||3||35||2/17|
The Kolkata Knight Riders’ Narine and the Mumbai Indians’ Lasith Malinga lead the way with five wickets each at the top of the wicket-taking standings, as both took four-wicket hauls in their opening game of the tournament.
The two squared off in the very first match of the competition on a surface which each of the team’s batsmen struggled on. West Indian Narine caused plenty of problems with his right-arm off-break bowling, giving away few scoring opportunities and frustrating the Mumbai batsmen into making errors.
Narine finished with impressive figures of 4/20 in the IPL curtain raiser and he was again economical in Kolkata’s second game, posting figures of 1/18 against the Delhi Daredevils.
He has led the race for the purple cap from the very first game, which is awarded to the leading wicket taker in the competition:
After leading Sri Lanka to victory in the 2014 T20 World Cup, Malinga went into this IPL tournament in great form and rife with confidence. His figures of 4/23 against Kolkata are a similar return to Narine, but their bowling styles couldn’t be more different.
The Sri Lankan paceman is a limited overs specialist, capable of tearing through the top order with raw pace at the start of the innings, or bamboozling batsmen in the final knockings with a combination of yorkers and slower balls.
A little further down the rankings, Indian spin bowler Ravichandran Ashwin has impressed with his off-spin deliveries, and you expect him to bowl his way to the top of the standings sooner rather that later.
He bowls for the Chennai Super Kings and really impressed in the World T20 for India. As the tournament moves on to India and the spinning pitches in the later stages of the tournament, expect bowlers like Ashwin to play an increasingly influential role.
Best Economy Rates And Top Averages
|IPL 2014: Best Economy Rates|
|KV Sharma||Sunrisers Hyderabad||2.0||8||4.00|
|YS Chahal||Royal Challengers Bangalore||8.0||35||4.37|
|BW Hilfenhaus||Chennai Super Kings||2.0||9||4.50|
|SP Narine||Kolkata Knight Riders||8.0||38||4.75|
|Z Khan||Mumbai Indians||8.0||44||5.50|
Whilst Malinga and Narine both lead the race for the purple cap with five wickets, it’s the latter who has been much more economical.
Malinga is a strike bowler who has a dynamic, intense style that brings him plenty of wickets, but he does occasionally leak runs.
Narine’s economy is only bettered by two bowlers at this juncture. The first is Karn Sharma of the Sunrisers Hyderabad who has conceded an average of 4.00 runs per over from his two overs in the tournament so far. The second is Yuzvendra Chahal, who has been consistently tight with his line and lengths for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, conceding just 4.37 runs per over from his eight bowled.
But the very best bowlers not only restrict the batsmen, they take wickets too, and the coveted combination of wicket taking and economy is best represented by a bowler's average. Once again it’s Narine who leads the way in this department, getting his five wickets at an average of 7.60 runs.
Trailing him is Ben Hilfenhaus who picked up one wicket for 9.00 runs in his solitary game for the Chennai Super Kings. Malinga and Ashwin have picked up their wickets at an average of 10.40 and 11.00 runs respectively. Chahal has picked up his wickets at an average of 11.66 runs.
All statistics courtesy of ESPNcricinfo.com