One of the major attractions of the IPL is batsmen scoring at a rapid pace and putting the bowlers under pressure. While crowds do enjoy yorkers crashing stumps, most still prefer the sight of the ball behind launched into the stands. This is exactly why batsmen who can clobber the ball are always in high demand in the IPL. As yet another edition gets underway, we take a look at seven of the most dangerous hitters in the Indian T20 league.
1. Andre Russell
When it comes to monstrous hitting, Andre Russell is an IPL legend. He can tonk the ball a long way, and so frequently that bowlers are forced to get demoralized. Some of the most amazing knocks in the IPL have come from Russell, when KKR have had their backs to the wall, especially in the 2019 edition. That season, he hammered 510 runs in 249 balls at an incredible strike rate of 204.81, with four fifties. It was almost a one-man show for KKR that year as Russell was their trump card. It was not a one-off though. Russell registered 300-plus runs in the 2015 and 2018 seasons at strike rates of 192.89 and 184.79 respectively.
Andre Russell’s career strike rate in the IPL: (182.33 after 74 matches)
2. Chris Gayle
Big-hitting is a somewhat West Indian trait. If Russell is a sensation, Chris Gayle is the original boss, having made a mockery of bowling attacks for over a decade. Even after crossing 40, he refuses to stop. Gayle still holds the record for the fastest hundred, the highest score and most sixes hit in an IPL innings. All three records were registered when he blazed away to an unbeaten 175 representing RCB against Pune Warriors in 2013. He raced to a hundred in 30 balls and smashed 17 sixes. Last year as well, Gayle managed to whack 288 runs in seven games for Punjab Kings at a strike rate of 137.14. Gayle has blasted as many as six hundreds in the IPL, the most by any batsman in the T20 league.
Chris Gayle’s career strike rate in the IPL: (150.11 after 132 matches)
3. AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers is not referred to as Mr. 360 for nothing. He can play incredible strokes all-round the ground. Be it the bouncer or a yorker, ABD has the ability to turn good deliveries into boundary. And if you bowl length to him, only god can save you. Over the years, de Villiers has won matches for RCB from positions when everything seemed lost. He cracked three consecutive sixes off a Jaydev Unadkat over to turn a match against Rajasthan Royals last season. In another game where even Virat Kohli struggled, de Villiers eased away to a 70-plus score. South Africa are desperately missing his services in international cricket following his shock retirement decision in May 2018.
AB de Villiers’ career strike rate in the IPL: (151.91 after 169 matches)
4. Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya’s rise to fame began in the IPL. Over the years, he has come in and struck those crucial 30s and 40s in no time. Often these knocks have proved to be the difference between victory and defeat for Mumbai Indians. Despite possessing a wiry frame, Pandya has the ability to hit the ball a long way. And it is his consistency at getting those crucial cameos which is his biggest asset. Pandya has progressed to do the same job for India, with an equally telling effect. He was tested against the short ball by England’s bowlers. It would be interesting to see if fast bowlers target him in his susceptible area in the IPL.
Hardik Pandya’s career strike rate in the IPL: (159.26 after 80 matches)
5. Virender Sehwag
T20 cricket was, in a sense, devised for destructive batsmen like Virender Sehwag. Although the former India cricketer played only a handful of matches in the format for the country, he enjoyed his time in the IPL. He plied his trade first for Delhi Capitals and later for Punjab Kings. He cracked five consecutive fifties in the IPL in 2012, a record which has since been equalled by Jos Buttler and David Warner. Just like during his playing days, Sehwag adopted the “see the ball, hit ball” approach in the IPL as well, and ended up cracking two hundreds and sixteen fifties. Fans were lucky to witness the best of swashbuckling Sehwag in the IPL.
Virender Sehwag’s career strike rate in the IPL: (155.44 from 104 matches)
6. Kieron Pollard
It is least surprising that another West Indian batsman’s name has cropped up in the list. The current West Indies limited-overs skipper, Kieron Pollard is the latest batsman to hit six sixes in international cricket. In the IPL, playing for Mumbai Indians, his ball-hitting ability has never been in doubt. He was the man of the match with an unbeaten 60 from 32 when Mumbai Indians lifted the IPL trophy for the first time back in 2013. Pollard hammered seven fours and three mighty sixes in his knock. In 2015 final, he again contributed 36 from 18 as Mumbai won the crown for a second time. The emergence of Hardik and Krunal Pandya has eased the pressure on Pollard, but he remains an integral part of Mumbai Indians’ big-hitting set up.
Kieron Pollard’s career strike rate in the IPL: (149.87 from 164 matches)
7. Rishabh Pant
It was a close fight between two maverick wicketkeeper-batsmen for the final slot – Delhi Capitals’ Rishabh Pant and Rajasthan Royals’ Jos Buttler. There was hardly anything to choose between the two. In the end, the Indian won the vote for his slightly superior average and strike rate. Pant has had an exceptional run in international cricket over the past few months, culminating with him being named DC captain in the absence of injured Shreyas Iyer. However, Pant has done reasonably well as a batsman too for the franchise. He smashed a scintillating 128 not out from 63 balls (15 fours and seven sixes) in IPL 2018 against an SRH attack comprising Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shakib Al Hasan and Rashid Khan. He also has 12 fifties to his name from 68 games, which is quite an impressive conversion rate. The expectations from Pant will be at an altogether different level this time.
Rishabh Pant’s career strike rate in the IPL: (151.97 from 68 matches)