Bowling is not necessarily the discipline that immediately comes to mind in connection with Twenty20 cricket and even less so with the Indian Premier League.
The whole ethos behind the IPL is geared towards providing entertainment via huge hitting and big runs— the more the ball clears the ropes, the better.
But a quality short-form bowler can be the real difference between winning and losing in T20 as has been shown so far in the UAE leg of this year's seventh edition of the IPL.
Taking wickets is the best way of slowing an opponents' run-rate down, while economical bowling in the middle overs can make a huge difference to a contest.
Kolkata Knight Riders' Sunil Narine has been the standout bowler so far in this tournament, and cricket writer Freddie Wilde indicates just how important the West Indian is to his team:
Slow bowling is the key in T20, not giving the batsman any pace to work with, and Narine has excelled so far in the tournament.
So, after Rajasthan's victory over Kolkata on Tuesday, let's take a look at the best of the lot in the bowling stakes so far in the UAE.
Leading Wicket-Takers and Best Figures
|Sunil Narine||Kolkata Knight Riders||9||107||4-20|
|Varun Aaron||Royal Challengers Bangalore||8||84||3-16|
|Mohit Sharma||Chennai Super Kings||8||106||4-14|
|Lakshmipathy Balaji||Kings XI Punjab||8||140||4-13|
Narine leads the way in terms of wickets, but with none taken against Rajasthan Royals, he only leads by the one to the other three on his tail.
The right-arm off-break bowler's best figures of the tournament came in the opening game against Mumbai Indians when he took 4-20 from his four overs as Kolkata restricted their opponents to a lowly 122.
Another terrific display from Narine was in the Knight Riders' two-run win over Bangalore when his 1-17 off four overs admirably restricted the Royal Challengers as they chased 151 for victory.
Lakshmipathy Balaji just edges Mohit Sharma for the best figures so far in the tournament, thanks to his 4-13 from four overs in Punjab's win against Hyderabad in Sharjah.
Kings XI have been the masters of the big-hitting so far this tournament, but with Balaji taking out the likes of David Warner, Aaron Finch and Darren Sammy in that game, they also have a very dangerous bowling attack.
Sharma's 4-14 came in a win against Mumbai in Dubai, the Chennai bowler's magnificent spell key to the Super Kings' victory that day.
Varun Aaron has been mighty consistent throughout the tournament with at least one wicket in every game that he has played.
Best Economy Rates
|Ravi Rampaul||Royal Challengers Bangalore||4||16||4.00|
|Yuzvendra Chahal||Royal Challengers Bangalore||19||101||5.31|
|Sunil Narine||Kolkata Knight Riders||20||107||5.35|
|Sandeep Sharma||Kings XI Punjab||11||62||5.63|
|Varun Aaron||Royal Challengers Bangalore||14.5||84||5.66|
Not the most glamorous of statistics but an absolutely fantastic measure of success in T20 cricket, bowlers with low-economy rates are gold dust in the shortest form of the game.
Ravi Rampaul's position at the top of this list is a slight misnomer as he has only bowled one spell of four overs this tournament for Bangalore, though a terrific bit of economical bowling it was.
His teammate Yuzvendra Chahal has been the real frugal bowler of the tournament, conceding only 101 runs from 19 overs in the competition, a remarkably efficient return.
Again, Narine makes this list, showing his ability both to keep down the run-rate as well as take wickets, a combination that has marked him out as the tournament's top bowler.
Kings XI's Sandeep Sharma has been arguably Punjab's best bowler throughout the tournament and has taken seven wickets, most importantly going at only 5.63 an over.
Backing up the batting performances of Kings XI Punjab admirably has been a strong bowling attack consisting of Balaji, Sandeep Sharma and Mitchell Johnson.
Their unbeaten UAE leg and position at the top of the IPL has been as much down to some fantastic bowling as the potentially more eye-catching big hitting.
All stats via IPLT20.com