The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 season will begin on April 7th with Chennai Super Kings taking on Mumbai Indians. The 50-day extravaganza will see all the eight original franchises playing in the league after a gap of two years.
When the T20 format was introduced in 2003, it was seen as a death knell for the bowlers, with batsmen having an upper hand, with large bats and fielding restrictions, hampering the bowlers. In its 15 years of existence, the T20 has become the format in which bowler has excelled quite a lot.
The IPL has been the prime evidence of that, in which bowlers have won the matches on regular occasions and the highest wicket-taker at the end of the tournament receives a Purple Cap during the presentation ceremony in the finals.
The Purple Cap keeps changing hands during the tournament and it is exciting to see the difference bowlers owning the cap during the course of the tournament.
Here are five bowlers who are the top contenders for the Purple Cap for IPL 2018:
RASHID KHAN (SRH)
17 wickets in 14 IPL matches with best of 3/19
The Afghan sensation, teenager Rashid Khan has taken the world of cricket by storm thanks to his exploits for the various leagues and for Afghanistan. The fast leg-break bowler has 135 wickets in 91 T20 matches with a best of 5/3.
Rashid made his IPL debut last season for Sunrisers Hyderabad and immediately made an impact with 17 wickets in the tournament for SRH. His leg spin was hard to read and his use of fast wrong ones was devastating for the batsmen. SRH bought him for Rs 9 crore in IPL 2018 auction and will hope that he continues his tremendous form in IPL 11 as well.
YUZVENDRA CHAHAL (RCB)
70 wickets in 56 IPL matches with best of 4/25
Yuzvendra Chahal is listed in the World Chess Federation’s official website and his chess player mind has helped him in becoming the go-to bowler for his captain in IPL and Team India. Chahal broke his way into the Indian team, thanks to his performance for RCB in the IPL.
Chahal has picked up 70 wickets in 56 matches for Royal Challengers Bangalore since IPL 2014. He has given many match-winning performances for the franchise including his best bowling performance of 4/25. The leg-spinner has become more proficient in picking wickets thanks to spending time with the likes of MS Dhoni in the Indian team.
Chahal was the only shining light in RCB’s dismal 2017 season, with 14 wickets and he would like to perform much better than that in the IPL 11 and even win the Purple cap for most wickets in the tournament.
KAGISO RABADA (DD)
53 wickets in 44 T20 matches with best of 3/12
Kagiso Rabada has been a revelation in international cricket since his international debut in 2014. He picked up a hat-trick and best bowling figures of 6/16 on his ODI debut against Bangladesh and since then, has gone on to reach new heights.
135 wickets in 28 Tests, 75 wickets in 48 ODIs and 53 wickets in 44 T20 matches across leagues and domestic tournaments, Rabada has become the bowler to watch out for. He made his IPL debut for Delhi Daredevils in the 2017 season, playing 6 matches and picking 6 wickets.
He was bought back in the IPL 2018 auction by Delhi Daredevils using the RTM card. Rabada will be the main weapon for Gautam Gambhir to unleash on the opposition, strengthening the bowling department which has Trent Boult, Mohd Shami, and Chris Morris. He will definitely be a contender for the Purple Cap in IPL 11 if he plays the full season.
JASPRIT BUMRAH (MI)
46 wickets in 47 IPL matches with best of 3/7
Jasprit Bumrah has become the main strike bowler for Team India since his debut in 2016. He came into limelight when Mumbai Indians bought him in IPL 2013. Though he didn’t get many matches to play in his debut year, he impressed enough for MI to retain him in further auctions.
His best IPL seasons came in 2016 and 2017 when he picked up 15 and 20 wickets respectively. He made a deadly pair with Sri Lankan quick bowler Lasith Malinga for a couple of seasons and helped Mumbai win the IPL title in 2017.
He has evolved so much over the last 2-3 years that he made his Test debut against South Africa in 2018 and impressed everyone. He has become inarguably one of the best death bowlers in international cricket and has learned almost all the tricks in very little time.
Though his IPL stats are a bit bewildering, when IPL 2018 starts, Bumrah will be considered a top contender for the most wickets, Purple Cap.
BHUVNESHWAR KUMAR (SRH)
111 wickets in 90 IPL matches with best of 5/19
Bhuvneshwar Kumar is the only bowler in IPL to win back to back Purple Caps in Indian Premier League. He won the Purple Cap for most wickets in IPL 2016 with 23 wickets and in IPL 2017 for 26 wickets.
Bhuvneshwar has 111 wickets in 90 IPL matches with a best of 5/19, the majority of his best performances have come after he was bought by Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2014. Known for his variations in pace and excellent use of the knuckleball, Bhuvneshwar Kumar is lethal both in the first six overs of the innings and death overs of the innings.
Along with Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar is widely regarded as the best death overs bowler in the world in limited overs format. It will be interesting to see whether Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be able to make a hat-trick of Purple Caps in IPL 2018.