T20 is said to be a batsman’s game. However, over the years, bowlers too have left their imprint in the shortest format of the sport. Apart from using the traditional yorkers, the pacers have developed slower ball yorkers and knuckle balls. Slow bowlers too have been adding variety to their repertoire, in an endeavour to stand up to the challenge posed by aggressive batsmen. Over the years, the IPL has seen some class acts as far as spinners are concerned. In his feature, we profile five of the best.
1. Amit Mishra
His India career fizzled out sooner than expected, but Amit Mishra is an IPL legend. The veteran leggie’s sheer volume of numbers prove it. He is second on the list of leading wicket-takers in the IPL, only behind Lasith Malinga. Mishra also holds the record for having claimed most hat-tricks in the IPL – 3. One of the last links to the traditional school of spin, the 38-year-old’s success in the league vindicates that art never dies. Mishra believes in beating the batsman in flight and has won many battles against the best. Does the Delhi Capitals tweaker have another fight left in him?
Mishra’s IPL stats: Matches – 150, Wickets – 160, SR – 19.75, Economy – 7.34
2. Ravichandran Ashwin
The Tamil Nadu cricketer was the original spin superstar to come out of the IPL, and is now on the verge of becoming an India legend. Under the guidance of MS Dhoni, Ravichandran Ashwin flourished at Chennai Super Kings. Later, the duo repeated the magic playing for India as well. Ashwin’s carrom ball was one of the most dangerous deliveries in the league during the initial years of the tournament. He was one of the architects in the rise of CSK as a champion side. He now represents Delhi Capitals, and will be hugely confident in the wake of his success against England in the Tests.
Ashwin’s IPL stats: Matches – 154, Wickets – 138, SR – 23.40, Economy – 6.87
3. Yuzvendra Chahal
Yuzvendra Chahal’s India career may be on the wane, but he is certainly managing to keep his RCB captain happy with his performances in the IPL. Last season, he claimed 21 wickets in 15 games at a strike rate of 16.33 and an economy of just over 7. Chahal success over the years has been due to his ability to catch the batsmen unaware of his variations. A product of the T20 era, he doesn’t believe in giving the ball air, but instead prides himself on hurrying up the batsmen. He does have impressive variations to boot. It remains to be seen whether his struggles in international cricket will affect his confidence.
Chahal’s IPL stats: Matches – 99, Wickets – 121, SR – 17.60. Economy – 7.67
4. Sunil Narine
The most successful mystery spinner in the history of the IPL, KKR’s Sunil Narine was next to impossible to pick at his peak. With players getting used to his variations, and the tweak in his bowling action following concerns being raised over the legality, he hasn’t been the same bowler since. However, Narine dominated IPL long enough to make this illustrious list. It was amazing to watch him release by the ball using different grips and the batsmen playing down a completely non-existent line. At his best, Narine produced T20 bowling of the highest quality.
Narine’s IPL stats: Matches – 120, Wickets – 127, SR – 21.93, Economy – 6.77
5. Rashid Khan
He’s only 22. But Afghanistan leggie Rashid Khan is already touted to become the next great spinner in world cricket. He has tasted amazing success in various T20 leagues across the globe, and the IPL has been no different. Unlike Chahal and Narine, Rashid is a little more in the traditional mould. He doesn’t mind beating the batsman in the air, but is equally good at bamboozling them with his variations. Unflinching accuracy is one of his strengths, and Rashid has the ability to take wickets even when the batsmen are looking to defend him.
Rashid’s IPL stats: Matches – 62, Wickets – 75, SR – 19.68, Economy – 6.24