Long gone are the days when T20 cricket was considered to be a batsman’s game. While boundaries galore in the game’s shortest format, we have also seen several low-scoring games where the bowlers did a brilliant job. The IPL 2018 game between Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore is one such game that comes to mind. RCB restricted KKR to 131 in the first innings at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. However, the hosts put up a wonderful bowling performance to dismiss the RCB batting lineup for a mere 49 runs in 9.4 overs.
With bowlers now being as important to a T20 game as batsmen, let’s look at five names that can win the purple cap in IPL 2022.
Avesh Khan – Lucknow SuperGiants
Avesh Khan made his IPL debut in 2017, but it was not before the 2021 season that he was properly utilised. Playing for the Delhi Capitals, the fast bowler picked up 24 wickets in 16 games at an average of 18.75. Following his impressive performances, Avesh was called up to the Indian squad for the limited-overs series against West Indies last month. He made his debut in the final T20I of the series, but failed to make the most of the opportunity. However, he was retained in the squad for the following T20Is against Sri Lanka, and this time, Khan made the most of the opportunity. In the final T20I of the series in Dharamshala, he picked up two wickets in his four overs at an economy of 5.75. The medium pacer will now be looking to shine in the upcoming IPL, where he will be playing for the Lucknow SuperGiants.
Harshal Patel – Royal Challengers Bangalore
Harshal Patel was the highest wicket-taker in IPL 2021 with 32 scalps in 15 games, and will be looking to retain the purple cap this year. Given his phenomenal performances for RCB in 2021, it was no surprise that the Bangalore-based franchise brought him back in the team by spending a whopping Rs 10.75 crore in the auction last month. The right-arm seamer with a big outswinger made his T20 international debut in November 2021, and has since then been a constant in the playing XI. With the experience of playing eight T20 internationals since winning the purple cap last year, Harshal will be looking ahead to another IPL season with a lot of confidence.
Jasprit Bumrah – Mumbai Indians
Little needs to be said about Jasprit Bumrah’s exceptional exploits in the IPL, which also made way for him in international cricket. But the fact that one of the finest bowlers in the tournament has never won the purple cap does not sit right with fans. The medium pacer has been among the top-wicket takers each year since making his debut in 2013, but is yet to top the wicket-takers chart. He was the third-highest wicket-taker last season with 21 wickets, and will be looking to climb up the ladder in the forthcoming season. In all, Bumrah has 130 wickets in 106 IPL games – no mean feat.
Kagiso Rabada - Punjab Kings
The purple cap winner of IPL 2020, speed gun Kagiso Rabada is another prime contender for the big prize this season. He was in a league of his own in 2020, ending the tournament with 30 wickets. And while Rabada wasn’t exactly unimpressive in 2021 – he picked up 15 wickets in as many games – the Delhi Capitals parted ways with him. But his impressive IPL numbers – 76 wickets in 50 games – always meant that he was going to fetch a handsome package in the auction. Punjab Kings signed Rabada for Rs 9.25 crore, and will be expecting the South African to repay the investment.
Rashid Khan – Gujarat Titans
For the first time since making his IPL debut in 2017, spin wizard Rashid Khan will be playing for a team that is not Sunrisers Hyderabad. Rashid, who scalped 93 wickets in 76 matches for the Sunrisers, has been roped in by the Gujarat Titans for Rs 15 crore for the 2022 season. One of the best T20 bowlers in the world, Rashid bowled at an economy of 6.24 in the recent Pakistan Super League, and will be looking to carry that form into the IPL. What’s even better is that he can be a match-winner with the bat too!