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IPL 2022, Top Indian Bowlers: Pacers Natarajan, Umran, Khaleel impress besides resurgent ‘Kulcha’

Top 5 Indian bowlers who have impressed in TATA IPL 2022 so far.

IPL 2022, Top 5 Indian Bowlers: Umran Malik is a solid contender for ICC Men's T20 world Cup after his IPL 2022 heroics | Walking Wicket (Images ©BCCI/IPL)
Sensational Umran Malik is a strong purple cap contender (Images ©BCCI/IPL)

"T20 cricket is a batter’s game," we have now been saying this for the past 14 odd years. With thicker bats, smaller grounds and bouncer restrictions, almost every second rule in the game of cricket is in favour of the batters.

Even with just about everything being in the batters’ kitty, there have been a few bowlers as well who have kept the batters in their pockets in this year’s IPL. The only thing favouring the bowlers is that a batter only needs to make one mistake and can be seen walking back to the pavilion, whereas the bowler has 24 deliveries in the T20 format to have the last laugh.

We will be scanning through five such bowlers, who have had the last laugh in this IPL, and have been winning games for their teams with match-winning performances with the white ball in hand.

IPL 2022, Top 5 Indian Bowlers: Yuzvendra Chahal, the current purple cap holder has 18 wickets from 8 games  | Walking Wicket (Images ©BCCI/IPL)
Chahal, current purple cap holder has 18 wickets from 8 games (Images ©BCCI/IPL)

Chahal checkmates batters with his leg breaks (18 Wickets, 8 Games)

The proud owner of the Purple Cap, Yuzvendra Chahal, has been absolutely sensational this year. After not being retained by RCB, Chahal was expected to go for big bucks in the mega auction. However, he was purchased by Rajasthan Royals (RR) for a pittance at INR 6.5 crores.

Rajasthan's leggie has picked wickets at regular intervals in the middle overs, breaking partnerships and turning the match in Rajasthan’s favour. Though the state-level chess champion went for far less than his actual worth in the mega auction, Chahal, with his skill-set and streak of smart bowling, has proved to everyone that he deserved way more than those mere six and a half crores.

Striking after almost every ninth ball, Chahal has picked up 18 wickets so far, with a decent economy of 7.09 runs per over. Chahal has played a huge role in Rajasthan being at the top three of the points table after 40 completed matches in TATA IPL 2022.

One special bowling masterclass of Chahal's came in the match against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). When the Knight Riders were cruising away towards the target, the leggie picked up four wickets within the space of a mere seven balls! Those 20 minutes of smart leg spin bowling won the game for Rajasthan out of nowhere. Yuzi also became the first player to take a hat-trick in the 15th edition of Tata IPL. Chahal just didn’t take a hat-trick and stop there. He also went on to pick the first fifer of the season in the same match and ended with match-winning bowling figures of 5/40.

After being ignored by the Indian selectors for ICC T20 World Cup 2021 held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Chahal had a lot to prove coming into this year’s IPL. Chahal was India’s main spinner in white ball cricket and had never been dropped before the T20 world cup. The big news came when RCB didn’t retain him, even with one more retention spot being vacant. Yuzi, with his performance, has bowled a googly to clean bowl all his critics who failed to pick him, just like he has bamboozled batters in the 15th edition of Tata IPL 2022.

IPL 2022, Top 5 Indian Bowlers: T Natarajan has 15 wickets from 8 games in IPL 2022 | Walking Wicket (Images ©BCCI/IPL)
Natarajan is just three wickets away from Chahal in Purple Cap race (Images ©BCCI/IPL)

Natarajan’s Nasty Yorkers (15 Wickets, 8 Games)

Thangarasu Natarajan, also known as Sunrisers Hyderabad’s yorker specialist, didn’t quite have luck on his side in 2021, as he was out with a knee injury in the first leg of IPL and then was infected with Covid-19, which caused him to miss all the matches in the UAE leg of IPL 2021. Despite being out for nearly a year, his former team Sunrisers supported him and purchased him in the mega-auction for a bargain price of INR 4 crores.

Natarajan has been chasing Yuzvendra Chahal for the purple cap, standing tall being third in the queue with 15 wickets in eight matches that he has featured for the Sunrisers this year. Natarajan has been picking up a wicket almost every 12 balls. He has been bowling at an economy of 8.41 runs per over. The Nattu we knew from the previous seasons used to pick the majority of his wickets in the death overs. Natarajan 2.0 now picks wickets even in the middle overs. Natarajan’s best bowling figures of 3-10 came against RCB in the 36th match, where he cartwheeled the stumps of RCB batters for fun with some outstanding swing bowling. The left-arm pacer, bowling from over the wicket, was angling the balls across right-handers and the Bangalore batters were having a nightmare facing him.

Natarajan, who has the fourth-best strike rate among top five wicket-takers in IPL 2022, is making a strong case for a spot in India's T20 World Cup squad, which will be held in Australia later this year. Also, India have been missing a strong left-arm seamer ever since the Zaheer era, and Natarajan could just be the bowler to fill those shoes for India.

IPL 2022, Top 5 Indian Bowlers: Kuldeep Yadav has bagged 13 wickets from 7 games for Delhi Capitals | Walking Wicket (Images ©BCCI/IPL)
Kuldeep Yadav has bagged 13 wickets from 7 games for Delhi Capitals (Images ©BCCI/IPL)

Kuldeep and the Game of Confidence

The Chinaman bowler from India had been struggling till recently to find his rhythm, especially post the Dhoni era. Kuldeep Yadav, who was neglected by KKR, and just played five matches for them in the 2020-21 season, was bought by Delhi Capitals for his base price of INR 2 crores. Kuldeep, who made a mark as a Chinaman bowler, was rated highly till the time Dhoni guided him from behind the wickets.

Delhi Capitals utilised the services of the mystery bowler well in the seven matches that they have played so far. The wristy left-arm spinner is currently at number four in the purple cap race with 13 wickets in seven innings. Kuldeep is also the highest wicket-taker for Delhi with 13 wickets. Bowling with a more than decent economy rate of 8.47, Kuldeep has a staggering strike rate of 12.30, meaning the Chinaman picks at least one wicket in a minimum of 12 balls. Kuldeep had only one player of the match in IPL until last year. In the 15th edition of the IPL, in a span of 23 days, he has grabbed the player of the match award three times and has been absolutely sensational for Delhi Capitals.

Kuldeep has shown the world why he is considered highly regarded in the Indian spin bowling circuit. In taking four wickets against his former team, KKR, Yadav helped his team defend a mammoth total of 216 in a high-scoring game. With Kuldeep picking up 40 per cent of the wickets taken by his team in that game against KKR, he definitely avenged the Knight Riders for the low confidence shown in his abilities by their management.

Kuldeep has not just picked wickets in the middle overs, but has been able to deceive batters with his wrong’uns and top-spinners. The confidence with which the Chinaman is bowling, an India comeback might just be around the corner for this improved version of Kuldeep.

IPL 2022, Top 5 Indian Bowlers: Pacer Umran Malik has taken 15 wickets from 8 games for SRH | Walking Wicket (Images ©BCCI/IPL)
Umran has taken 15 wkts from 8 games for SRH including one 5-fer (Images ©BCCI/IPL)

Umran ‘Bullet’ Malik

Umran Malik was one of the three players retained by Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH). When Malik was retained for INR 4 crores, he definitely raised a few eyebrows among the cricketing pundits. The 22-year-old boy has responded by consistently clocking over 150+ kmph and shackling all the batters. SRH had appointed Dale Steyn as their fast-bowling coach for IPL 2022 and the cricketing world was naturally ready to witness a lethal combination of Umran's deadly peace under the guidance of Steyn-gun.

A 30-yard run-up, running like a proper athlete, Umran rushes to the popping crease in a flash and breathes fire with those spicy 150 kmph deliveries. Malik has so far taken 15 wickets in IPL 2022, at a strike rate of 12.0. He hasn’t leaked runs either this season and has been pretty decent in terms of economy, giving away just 7.96 runs per over in the eight games he has featured so far for SRH.

Malik’s second best performance came against Punjab Kings (PBKS), where he wrecked terror in the minds of Punjab batters by bowling a double wicket maiden over. It wasn’t just any other over, it was the 20th over where he put a full-stop to the Punjab innings. Umran also became only the fourth bowler to bowl a maiden in the 20th over and only the second bowler in IPL history (after the legendary Lasith Malinga) to ever bowl a double wicket maiden over in the 20th over.

Malik's best performance came against Gujarat Titans (GT), where he took 5-25 and dismantle GT's top order. Umran Malik was named player of the match for his performance. However, SRH lost the game in the final over but Umran wins the heart of fans.

An action which has glimpses of the great Waqar Younis. Umran Malik can also become one of the fast-bowling greats for India in the future. If he manages to keep himself fit, Malik should definitely keep one eye on the T20 World Cup later this year, on the fast and bouncy pitches of Australia, where the skiddy fast bowler can definitely make batters smell the leather with his nerve-wracking pace and bounce.

IPL 2022, Top 5 Indian Bowlers: Khaleel Ahmed has taken 11 wickets from 6 games for Delhi Capitals | Walking Wicket (Images ©BCCI/IPL)
Khaleel Ahmed has impressed with his 11 wkts from 6 games (Images ©BCCI/IPL)

The unassuming Khaleel Ahmed

After a blunder in the mega-auction, Khaleel Ahmed was sold to Delhi Capitals for INR 5.25 crores, despite the last bid coming from the Mumbai Indians (MI) table. Khaleel, who has been rated highly for his pace and clever use of variations, has been amongst the pick of the bowlers in IPL 2022. After debuting for India in 2018, Khaleel has been quiet ever since.

This year’s IPL was Khaleel’s chance to come into recognition once again, as the left-arm seam bowling option is quite a rarity in the Indian setup. Having played six games so far, Khaleel has made his mark, picking up 11 wickets and standing eights in the race for the purple cap. Khaleel’s best performance came against KKR, when he derailed the Knight Riders in the chase by dismissing both the openers and then picking up the dangerous Sam Billings in the death overs to seal it for Delhi.

In the six matches he has played so far, Khaleel has not gone wicketless in even a single innings yet. In this edition of Tata IPL, Khaleel strikes with a wicket after almost every 13 balls in this edition of IPL.

Ahmed has been extracting extra bounce from the Mumbai and Pune pitches and has dismissed some of the stalwarts in T20 cricket like Faf du Plessis, Hardik Pandya, Ajinkya Rahane and Jonny Bairstow. With the Indian veteran pacers who have not quite shined so far for their respective franchises, Khaleel has been shining with the new ball by producing wickets for the Capitals. A left-hand seamer is always an asset with the angle, and a tall left-hand seamer is just the icing on the cake, which might just tempt the Indian selectors to give Khaleel the ticket to the ICC T20 World Cup 2022.


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