That this format belonged to the batsmen and that bowlers would be butchered was a common notion towards the IPL and T20s in general a few years ago. But the bowlers, particularly those of the spinning variety, have been able to hold their own in the middle of the pandemonium and have done rather well. The likes of Lasith Malinga and Sunil Narine have been a revelation in this format and in the IPL as well, and this year too, the bowlers will definitely have their say.
Here is a look at five bowlers to watch out for this season:
Last year's Purple Cap holder for most wickets in an IPL season, South Africa's Morkel has done well to come out of the shadows of his more illustrious bowling partner, Dale Steyn. With 25 wickets in 16 matches, Morkel proved to be a handful with the ball last season. In IPL, a general pattern has been of fast bowlers going for plenty with spinners ruling the roost, but Morkel has been able to stand his ground. With his height he is able to extract maximum out of the placid Indian wickets and has a very good knack of bowling variations. He is tactical when it comes to varying his length and the use of effective slower deliveries is a big weapon for the lanky pacer. Unlike Steyn, who went for many in the last edition, Morkel kept things tight at one end and reaped rewards with wickets.
With a mohawk and a tardy bowling action, Narine turned around the fortunes of Kolkata Knight Riders almost single-handedly taking 24 wickets from 15 matches with an enviable average of 13.50 and an impressive economy of 5.47 in IPL 5. The mystery bowler who boasted of having six different deliveries to fox a batsman proved to be the nemesis for every IPL team, helping KKR scrape through from losing positions on couple of occasions last year. Narine's biggest weapon in IPL 5 was his accuracy and consistency. He maintained pressure with his immaculate line and length, and with batsmen clueless regarding which way the ball was going to spin, the West Indian became an instant sensation propelling a selection to the national side as well. He also went on to play a crucial role in West Indies' successful ICC World Twenty20 campaign. His lack of form recently led to his axing from the Test matches in the home series against Zimbabwe but in ODIs and T20Is, he has shown decent form.
He was out with an injury for three months and will be playing the domestic T20 tournament to access his recovery ahead of the IPL. Though he won't feature in all the matches in the IPL, Yadav's presence and impact in a game is massive as was the case last year. In 17 matches, Yadav picked up 19 wickets at an average of 23.84 and the most impressive thing about him was his raw pace. He was able to beat of the batsmen with his pace and lethal yorkers. He turned in a couple of decent performances in the death overs and with Ashish Nehra and Morkel for company, Delhi will be banking on his bowling attack to deliver the goods.
The phenomenon of the IPL, Malinga, even if he is in terrible form of late, cannot be ruled out as a potential match-winner for Mumbai Indians. That slinging action has worked for the Sri Lankan and Mumbai many a time over the course of five years and to expect anything different this year would be foolish. He has the most number of wickets in the IPL (83) and to maintain an economy of 6.36 runs per over overall is staggering. Malinga can change the course of the game in one over and has done that for Mumbai a lot. To get runs in the death overs off Malinga is as hard as Chris Martin trying to get a run with the bat. His ODI performances over the past one year have been dismal but in the Big Bash League, Malinga was able to impress one and all churning up a miserly economy 4.13 runs per over in the tournament.
The Chennai offspinner is in hot form with the ball and looks set to deliver in IPL 6. He took variations out of his bowling for the Test series against Australia, but he will be back will his bag of tricks for IPL, and not to forget that start-stop bowling stride. Last year, Ashwin was not particularly impressive bagging 14 wickets in 19 games but was able to maintain a healthy economy of 6.54 runs per over. His overall IPL economy is also very good (6.22) and along with Shadab Jakati, Ashwin forges a dangerous partnership in the middle overs, cutting out the runs during the particular phase of the match and getting the crucial breakthroughs as well.
Ashwin apart, it is imperative to mention some of the slow bowlers to watch out for in IPL 6. Sunrisers Hyderabad's Amit Mishra, who is the second highest wicket-taker in the IPL, and the under-utilised but very effective Nathan McCullum would be another pair to watch out for. Also Pragyan Ojha, who will be playing for Mumbai, could pack a punch and a certain Ravindra Jadeja too enjoys the big stage.