Controversial, maybe, but we’ve been bold enough to rank the top ten greats in Indian Premier League (IPL) history. Do you agree with our selection of danger men, all of whom will feature in IPL 2019?
The 12th edition of the tournament, a prelude to a highly-anticipated summer of white-ball cricket culminating with the World Cup 2019, is almost upon us.
But there are some IPL players who have, over the course of its short history, become institutions at the annual event – the big guns, if you will. They are the crowd pullers, the impact players, and the match-winners. It is these players who make the IPL the spectacle it is.
10. David Warner (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
David Warner is back with Hyderabad, after being banned by the BCCI in the immediate aftermath of the ball-tampering scandal of March 2018. He has been welcomed with open arms on his return, and that is no surprise. He is the captain to have led them to their only IPL title in 2016, and his return to the top of the order will provide much-needed experience to Hyderabad, especially after they had to trade Shikhar Dhawan, their former captain, to Delhi Capitals.
Warner is the highest scorer among overseas players in the IPL: he has 4014 runs at 40.54 and a strike rate of 142.13. Given Hyderabad reached the final without him last year, his addition this time makes them a big favourite for the trophy.
9. Chris Gayle (Kings XI Punjab)
The ‘Universe Boss’ will be back in India after proving to the IPL fraternity last year that a change of teams can bring about a change in fortune. Bangalore released Gayle after his diminishing returns in 2016 and 2017, but after Punjab snapped him up, he roared back to form in 2018, hitting 368 runs at 40.88. His IPL strike-rate of 150.17 is among the highest in the league, and he has an average of 41.17 to go with it. He’s had a fine year so far in 2019, and he looks set to dazzle the Indian crowds again.
8. Sunil Narine (Kolkata Knight Riders)
With 112 wickets from 98 matches, Narine is the third-highest wicket-taker in the IPL among overseas players. His mystery spin was his calling card, but now he’s unearthed some excellent ball-striking ability at the top and at the death. He’s scored 628 runs at a strike rate of 168.81.
In fact, Narine holds the record for the joint second-fastest fifty in the IPL, requiring a mere 14 balls against Bangalore in 2017. This, coupled with his much-vaunted mystery spin, makes him a crucial member of the Kolkata line-up.
7. Andre Russell (Kolkata Knight Riders)
Grappling with a bad knee and yet turning out for Kolkata season after season – that’s been the story of Andre Russell’s IPL career. He has played only 50 games since his debut in 2012, and missed the entire 2017 season. However, his value to the team hasn’t diminished. Why? He strikes the ball at 177.29, batting in the lower-middle order, and averages 26.96. He has also taken 44 wickets with his pace and accuracy, both with the new ball as well at the death. He can win matches, both with bat and ball.
6. Dwayne Bravo (Chennai Super Kings)
Perhaps the most potent all-rounder in the history of the league, Bravo has 1,379 runs and 136 wickets from 122 games, and is an automatic selection in the Chennai XI. The different variations of his slower balls, the ability to outsmart any batsman in the world, and his knack for exploding with the bat, all make him a key cog in Chennai’s wheel. He’s the one who can make maximum impact on a match, and Chennai will rely heavily on his services.
5. Shane Watson (Chennai Super Kings)
Shane Watson is 38 in a few months. But, somehow, he continues to excel in T20 franchises the world over, no more than with Chennai. Last year, he scored a century in the final against Sunrisers Hyderabad and was Player of the Match as Chennai won. He heads into this tournament in similar form, having won the Player of the Tournament and Batsman of the Tournament awards during PSL 2019.
Watson doesn’t bowl as much as he used to, but when needed, he can still roll his arm over to great effect. Time has flown since he won the inaugural IPL in 2008 with Rajasthan Royals, but Watson still keeps those performances coming, and Chennai will be glad for that.
4. Jasprit Bumrah (Mumbai Indians)
He is now the No.1 ODI bowler in the world and India’s biggest strike bowler, but it all began six years ago, when Mumbai fielded this curious talent with an unorthodox action for two matches. He built his reputation the next year, with some excellent death bowling, overseen by the yorker-specialist Lasith Malinga.
Over the years, he has picked up 63 wickets from 61 matches while conceding less than eight an over. Add to that Bumrah’s rise as an all-conditions, all-formats bowler in the last 12 months, and you get a gem that Mumbai would do anything to keep.
3. Rohit Sharma (Mumbai Indians)
The Mumbai captain is the highest scorer for his team in the IPL and has led them to three titles, the joint-highest with Chennai. He is third on the all-time scorers’ list with 4,493 runs at 31.86, with 34 half-centuries. His ability to open the batting or be the middle order enforcer gives Mumbai much-needed flexibility. He has also shown himself to be a shrewd captain. If there is one player that epitomises this Mumbai side, it is Rohit Sharma.
2. MS Dhoni (Chennai Super Kings)
Three-time IPL-winning captain. Champion finisher. The heart and soul of Chennai Super Kings. Dhoni has been a fixture at Chennai since the very first IPL in 2008, and over the years he has seen a young side grow into a group of seasoned professionals, most of whom have stuck together either side of a BCCI-imposed two-year ban. And on their return last year, Dhoni led them to a famous triumph.
Dhoni has scored 4,016 IPL runs at 40.16, saving his best for the comeback season last year when he hammered 455 runs at 75.83 and a strike-rate of 150.66. Another good season for the captain could lead them to a fourth title.
1. Virat Kohli (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Virat Kohli. There could be no one else at No.1. Batsman nonpareil – as passionate a captain as they come and the biggest enigma in India cricket. Kohli has scored 4,948 runs from 163 games with 34 half-centuries and is involved in a tussle with Suresh Raina to become the tournament’s all-time top-scorer. He has scored at least 500 runs in three of the last four seasons, and he could well end up the best batsman in the league’s history.
All said, though, Bangalore have never won the IPL. Kohli’s legacy will feel incomplete without an IPL trophy. Is this the year?