NEW DELHI: Bowlers have always played an important role in the Indian Premier League since its inception. In the last few seasons, the league has witnessed some stunning match-winning spells by spinners and seamers alike.
Here is a look at the top five bowlers, who are expected to make a difference in the 15th edition of the lucrative event.
Kagiso Rabada (Punjab Kings)
After spearheading the bowling unit for four seasons at the Delhi franchise, where he also won the Purple Cap in 2020, Rabada will now turn out for Punjab Kings. Known for his breathtaking fast bowling and toe-crushing yorkers, South Africa's premier pace bowler Rabada has established himself as a force to reckon with.
At Punjab, the 26-year-old will be their most experienced pace bowler and will be expected to produce some remarkable performances with the ball in hand. With ample bounce expected at Wankhede and the Brabourne Stadium, Rabada, who is a proven match-winner, could prove to be lethal.
The pacer would also be keen to make up for the underwhelming outing he had last season.
Yuzvendra Chahal (Rajasthan Royals)
In the past few years, Chahal has established himself as a vital cog in the Royal Challengers Bangalore set-up, becoming the backbone of the team's bowling line-up. The fact that he is ninth on the list of all-time leading wicket-takers in the league, having claimed 139 scalps in 114 games since 2013, speaks volumes about his skills.
He enters the new season on the back of a good run of form and could be bowling match-winning spells in tandem with senior India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin for the Rajasthan Royals, especially on the the spin-friendly Wankhede track.
As the tournament progresses the tracks will get slower and spinners are expected to play a vital role.
Jasprit Bumrah (Mumbai Indians)
One of the best bowlers in modern-day cricket across all formats there is no denying that Bumrah is an impact player. The death overs specialist and perhaps the best T20 bowler around the world right now, Bumrah has been a consistent performer for Mumbai Indians with an ability to take wickets at will.
Since his debut in the IPL in 2013, Bumrah has taken 130 wickets in 106 games at an economy of 7.42. A consistent performer, Bumrah has been among the top 10 leading wicket-takers in every season since 2016.
His brutal pace and movement up front, and accuracy at the death, makes him one of the most dangerous bowlers in the league and he is expected to continue troubling the batters on Mumbai and Pune pitches.
Rashid Khan (Gujarat Titans)
After serving as the bowling mainstay of Sunrisers Hyderabad since his arrival in the league in 2017, Rashid Khan will now ply his trade for new entrants, Gujarat Titans. The star Afghan leg-spinner boasts of the best economy rate of 6.33 in the history of the tournament while also taking 93 wickets in 76 matches.
He is known to choke the opposition for runs every time his captain hands him the ball, as batters often just opt to play out his four overs without taking any risks. And this season is expected to be no different for Rashid.
The 23-year-old, currently ranked number five in the world in the shortest format of the game, is proficient in bowling flighted leg-spinners, googlies, flippers alongside other variations as well which make him a lethal player.
With the league phase being played in Mumbai and Pune where the conditions would aid the spinners, Rashid could be lethal.
Harshal Patel (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Having made his IPL debut way back in 2012, Harshal Patel enjoyed his breakthrough season last year with Royal Challengers Bangalore. He picked up a record-equalling 32 wickets in 15 games to win the Purple Cap in the 2021 edition of the league.
The 31-year-old was extremely effective in the death overs, a department RCB had lacked in before and that was the reason why the franchise shelled out a whopping Rs 10.75 crore to secure his services once again.
A right-arm seamer with a big outswinger, Patel uses smart angles and variations to make up for his medium pace. Slower bouncers, variations in yorkers and cutters are all part of his arsenal. Having played eight T20Is for India, Patel would look to continue in similar vein as last season.