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The death bowlers of IPL 2018

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Death_bowlers_IPL_CricketBoard room meetings are done, plans are drawn up and the promotions are in full swing. Yet another season of the Indian Premier League has begun and the excitement is sky high with the two teams returning from suspension. The teams have identified their go-to men and chalked out their strategies for the first half of the tournament at least.

While batsmen are the toast of T20 cricket, bowlers win matches. Franchises will be keen to get the most out of their best bowlers. The do or die death overs constitute the most important part of a T20 game and death bowlers are worth their weight in gold.

Chennai Super Kings

Shardul Thakur

Shardul Thakur made headlines in the Nidahas Trophy for his hit or miss spells. He was tonked mercilessly by Kusal Perera in one game but returned strongly, bowling well at the death. Analyze his performances closely and you notice that he has good variations up his sleeve for the death overs.

The Mumbaikar was a revelation for Rising Pune Supergiant last season which could well be his turnaround year in IPL. At Chennai Super Kings, he will have Dwayne Bravo to aid him at the death but could be more of a threat given Bravo's one-dimensional strategy.

Delhi Daredevils

Chris Morris

The South African all-rounder was retained by Delhi Daredevils more for his incessant hitting skills than his bowling. That said, Morris is a fabulous death bowler with a strong control over his length when the batsmen turn on the gas.

He has been South Africa's assigned death bowler in limited-overs cricket for a long time and stepped up for Delhi last season. If he can come into his own after being entrusted with more responsibility, Daredevils could finally break their jinx in the Indian Premier League.

Mumbai Indians

Mustafizur Rahman and Jasprit Bumrah

The Fizz was a sensation in Sunrisers Hyderabad's title-winning campaign in 2016. His unplayable off-cutters, smart pace variations and pin point yorkers made him an instant hit in the IPL. Add to that the searing yorkers of Jasprit Bumrah and you see how Mumbai Indians aced the IPL auctions without really going overboard.

The contrasting skills of Bumrah and Mustafizur makes Mumbai Indians a real threat this season where they notably miss the presence of the dropped Lasith Malinga. Bumrah and the Fizz could, however, more than make up for Malinga's absence with their worthy skill sets.

Kolkata Knight Riders

Andre Russell

After a horrendous IPL auction and a bad first few games, Kolkata Knight Riders look seriously short of firepower in most departments. Their retentions were viewed with skepticism, but in West Indian all-rounder Andre Russell, they have a real match-winner capable of turning the game on its head with his batting, bowling and fielding.

Bowling isn't his strongest suit but with a thinking captain like Dinesh Karthik at the helm, one hopes to see Kolkata Knight Riders employ Russell more at the death where his pace variations and yorkers could come in handy. The season is likely to be a litmus test for the franchise and Russell would be a trump card for them.

Rajasthan Royals

Jofra Archer

Jofra Archer was the uncapped foreign player who made the most ripples before the IPL auctions in January. A cult figure in his maiden Big Bash League season for Hobart Hurricanes, Archer would pull off stunning catches and bowl remarkable spells at the death at speeds in excess of 150kmph.

Rajasthan Royals were smart enough to pouch his services and the West Indian, who plays in England, will be a key bowler for them at the death when he is fully fit. His ability to adapt to the pitch, conditions and opposition, as evidenced by his seamless integration to different leagues, makes him a player to watch out for this IPL season.

Kings XI Punjab

Andrew Tye

Kings XI Punjab was hurried and tensed in the first few hours of the IPL auctions and went about bidding for anyone and everyone. While it seemed stupid, they stopped short of going over the top with the cash register and ended up with some real good players, one of them being the talented Australian Andrew Tye, whose knuckle balls and slower deliveries made him invaluable at the Gujarat Lions last season.

In 2017 alone, Tye picked up three hat-tricks in cricket across leagues. His exemplary skills in the final few overs make him a worthy bowler for any franchise. Kings XI has traditionally struggled in the death overs but Tye’s addition has given them some much needed oomph.

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Basil Thampi and Bhuvneshwar Kumar

The best death bowler going around, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, was retained without a blink of the eye by Sunrisers Hyderabad. Economical whenever he comes on to bowl, Bhuvneshwar has aced the art of T20 bowling. He was the purple cap winner the last two editions of the IPL and all signs point towards a hat-trick of purple caps.

Accompanying him is Kerala speedster Basil Thampi, whose sharp yorkers for Gujarat Lions caught the eye of many. Thampi’s task could just be backing up Bhuvneshwar Kumar at the death, but expect him to share some limelight with the international seamer. One good season could catapult Thampi into the Indian limited-overs teams.

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Tim Southee

As has always been the case, Royal Challengers Bangalore appears beefed up on the batting front but this time, for a change, they seem to have a good battery of bowlers at their disposal. The presence of quite a few overseas batsmen limits the number of overseas bowlers they can deploy, but Tim Southee's exceptional death bowling skills will see him become an important figure in the later part of the season.

The Kiwi seamer is fresh off a fabulous Test series against England and found some much needed form ahead of the IPL. Those who have watched Southee know his sharp cricketing mind and would trust him with their life in the death overs.

 

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