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Arun Gopalakrishnan in Mumbai 26 May 2014 - 06:42pm IST

IPL 2014: Best Bowlers

From timely wickets to economical spells, these players gave batsmen nightmares

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Performance in league season of Pepsi IPL 2014 | Matches – 14, Wickets – 20, Economy – 6.65
Watching Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowlin the Pepsi IPL 2014 was like watching a surgeon using his scalpel. Delicate stuff. There was rhythm in the run-up, not too much effort in the delivery, yet the bowler got the desired result – getting the ball to move off the surface and causing damage at the business end. The 24-year-old got the ball to swing both ways and that is definitely good news for Indian cricket fans. Opening the bowling for Sunrisers Hyderabad, the medium-pacer was unplayable at certain times. He was sensational while bowling in the powerplay overs, bowling dot deliveries to the extent of 58.3% and conceding runs at 5.53 runs per over. He struck telling blows right at the start, as half of his 20 wickets in the league season were of either the opening batsmen or the one-drop batsman.

They say it is best to nip problems in the bud. If one were to equate batsmen as problems for bowlers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar applied that theory to the ‘T’ by dismissing plenty of batsmen early on in their innings. 15 of his 20 wickets in the league season were of batsmen who had scored 4 runs or fewer!

Yuzvendra Chahal



Performance in league season of Pepsi IPL 2014 | Matches – 14, Wickets – 12, Economy – 7.01
Twenty20 can make or break careers and reputations pretty quickly – especially those of bowlers. The one bowler who has most definitely come out with an enhanced reputation after taking part in Pepsi IPL 2014 is Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Yuzvendra Chahal. The leg-spinner from Haryana, who got only one outing in three years with the Mumbai Indians, played in every one of RCB’s 14 matches this season. Bustling with energy, 23-year-old Chahal found his rhythm right from the first match when he returned with figures of 1 for 18 from his four overs against the Delhi Daredevils and became a better bowler as the tournament progressed. He bowls the brisk leg-break, and on surfaces which offer a bit of bounce, could be a handful.

In his 14 outings for RCB, he not only kept the runs down, but also picked up some big wickets. Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard, Jacques Kallis, Shane Watson, David Miller, Virender Sehwag, Glenn Maxwell and Kevin Pietersen were among his 12 scalps this season. There were days he came in for some stick. But those were far and few, and that he finished the season with an overall economy rate of 7.01 speaks volumes of how good he was on the remaining days.

Sunil Narine



Performance in league season of Pepsi IPL 2014 | Matches – 14, Wickets – 20, Economy – 5.91
Sunil Narine has played 45 matches so far in the IPL – and at least 4 matches against each opponent. Heavy bats, licence to go after the bowling from the word go, small boundaries, assistance to batsmen in the form of video analysis and familiarity notwithstanding, batsmen still cannot seem to score runs off the Kolkata Knight Riders spinner on a regular basis. There is certainly an element of mystery to his bowling, given there are few give aways if the ball would dart in off the surface or go the other way. But it is indeed baffling that even batsmen who’ve played him previously fail to pick him. The approach to playing him out hasn’t been too convincing. One would expect teams to take one of two possible approaches: 1) play him out and not give him wickets or2) take a few chances against him and hope to score a few quick runs, even if they end of losing a couple of wickets. In Pepsi IPL 2014, neither seem to be happening. The Trinidadian went wicket-less only thrice, but more importantly for KKR he kept things quiet at his end and concededa run-a-ball or fewer in nine of the 14 league matches.

Harbhajan Singh



Performance in league season of Pepsi IPL 2014 | Matches – 13, Wickets – 12, Economy – 6.45
There’s a lot being spoken about leg-spinners, mystery spinners and variations being used by bowlers in Pepsi IPL 2014. But it’s been a joy to watch Harbhajan Singh deliver the goods just as effectively, but by employing the traditional and classical methods of off-spin bowling. The 33-year-old has done everything the old-timers will relish; he has predominantly bowled from over the stumps (unlike modern off-spinners who prefer to operate from round the stumps even to right-hand batsmen), has not been afraid to toss the ball, has discovered the right pace to bowl at and has hit the right areas consistently. The most important aspect of all – he has stuck to the conventional off-break, and has seldom had to use the doosra or the top-spinner. He’s not got as many wickets as he would have liked, but there’s no denying the fact he’s bowled beautifully and has made life difficult for batsmen at the crease. Ask David Warner, who faced more Harbhajan Singh deliveries than any other batsman this season!

Sandeep Sharma



Performance in league season of Pepsi IPL 2014 | Matches – 10, Wickets – 17, Economy – 8.67
Mitchell Johnson – after his exploits in the Ashes and against South Africa – was expected to spearhead the Kings XI Punjab bowling attack in Pepsi IPL 2014. For Sandeep Sharma to outperform the Australian by itself explains how good he has been. The youngster from Patiala, who turned 21 very recently, wasn’t a first-choice selection. But when he got a chance to play in the XI, he made sure the team management would not turn backwards. He was sensational in the UAE leg of the tournament, picking up seven wickets in three matches, and collecting two Man of the Match awards. He carried that form when the tournament returned to Indian shores, illustrating that he had the ability to swing the new ball irrespective of the conditions.

Leaving aside his ability to swing the ball briefly, let’s look at the damage he has caused. 12 of his 17 wickets are of batsmen who bat in the top three – no other bowler has taken as many top-order wickets in Pepsi IPL 2014, and 13 of his 17 victims were dismissed for single-digit scores. Gautam Gambhir, Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and Dwayne Smith were some of his victims in the season. Doesn’t that paint the picture?

The one area the youngster needs to work on is death bowling. He has lacked control in the death overs, has sprayed the ball, and has leaked plenty of runs at the end. In Pepsi IPL 2014, the 7.1 overs he has bowled in the final quarter of the innings have cost him 94 runs – that’s 13.11 runs per over. If he aims to play higher grade cricket, this is one area Sandeep Sharma needs to improve in rapidly. 

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