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Deepak Chahar, Rashid Khan and more: who you should back to finish as each franchise’s Top wicket-taker

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Back Chahar to finish IPL 2021 as CSK's Top wicket-taker

@ IPL T20

Deepak Chahar, Rashid Khan and more: who you should back to finish as each franchise’s Top wicket-taker

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They call T20 a batsman’s game, but the first 16 matches of IPL 2021 have largely dished out wickets that have let the bowlers dominate proceedings. Plenty of individuals have stepped up, but we’re here to tell who you should be backing to finish as each franchise’s Top wicket-taker.

Chennai Super Kings - Deepak Chahar

Dafabet odds: 1.50

Current tally of wickets in IPL 2021: 8

Current rank in Chennai Super Kings: 1

Difference between Chahar and CSK’s second-highest wicket-taker:  4 wickets

Closest competitors: Moeen Ali (4), Sam Curran (4), Lungi Ngidi, Shardul Thakur and DJ Bravo (3)

Why you should back Deepak Chahar

It’s quite funny that Deepak Chahar has 8 wickets to his name as he’s gone wicketless in half the matches he’s played this season, but that’s exactly what he does: blow opponents away when on song. This time around he’s already taken a four-wicket lead and that is pretty big. Usually, you’d expect the CSK spinners to catch up, but with the side playing six of its remaining 10 matches on the flat surfaces of Mumbai, Bangalore and Eden, any spinner going on a rampage and catching up can be pretty much ruled out. That leaves Ngidi, Curran, Thakur and Bravo as Chahar’s biggest competitors and here’s why we believe it’s the Rajasthan man who’ll be the hot favourite. Unlike Chahar, both Ngidi and Bravo won’t play all games and that’ll significantly hurt their chances of topping the charts. Curran will, but not only is the left-armer someone not guaranteed to bowl his full quota of four every match, but he is also not a wicket-taker, as proven by his IPL wickets-to-match ratio of 1.00. That essentially makes it a 1 v 1 battle between Chahar and Thakur, and with the Mumbaikar terribly out of form - 3 wickets in 4 games @ ER of 11.27 - it is pretty much a no brainer to lay your faith in Chahar.  The right-armer finished as the franchise’s second-highest wicket-taker in his ‘lean’ season in IPL 2020, so it’s almost a given that he’ll top the charts this time around. 

Delhi Capitals - Kagiso Rabada

Dafabet odds: 2:25

Current tally of wickets in IPL 2021: 4

Current rank in Delhi Capitals: 3

Difference between Rabada and Delhi’s highest wicket-taker: 4 wickets

Closest competitors: Avesh Khan (8), Chris Woakes (5) and Amit Mishra (4) 

Why you should back Rabada

The purple cap winner last edition has had a rough start to this season, but make no mistake, he will bounce back. In our Top Batsmen article, we spoke about how the likes of Warner and Kohli just know how to top the charts, and Rabada is the bowling equivalent of those two behemoths. Since 2019, the South African has taken 9 more wickets than any other bowler in the competition despite having missed a good chunk of games and in the same time frame, has taken 37 more wickets than any other Delhi bowler, while also finishing as the side’s Top wicket-taker in each of the last two editions. Among his competitors, both Woakes and Mishra can be ruled out owing to them being horses-for-courses options and with Nortje yet to play a game, it leaves Avesh Khan as Rabada’s biggest threat. Avesh has been spectacular this season, but it is to be noted that 6 of his 8 wickets have come before the death - meaning, he’s made the most out of favourable conditions, but still is operating in a wicket-taking model that is unsustainable. Where Rabada has the edge is that he simply will nip out cheap wickets owing to bowling predominantly at the death. Since 2019, a staggering 59% (35 wickets) of Rabada’s wickets have come in the final four overs and he’s only bound to add to these numbers with Delhi playing all but one of their remaining games on the flat tracks of Ahmedabad and Kolkata. Regardless of whether he’s in or out of form, Rabada simply will feast on wickets due to being the side’s designated death bowler. Like it or not, he *SHOULD* be the guy you need to be backing to top the charts for DC again, despite the four-wicket lead Avesh Khan has. 

Dafabet odds: 3.50

Current tally of wickets in IPL 2021: 4

Current rank in Mumbai Indians: 3

Difference between Bumrah and Mumbai’s highest wicket-taker: 4 wickets

Closest competitors: Rahul Chahar (8 wickets) and Trent Boult (6 wickets)

Why you should back Bumrah

It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? Mumbai Indians is synonymous with Jasprit Bumrah. Last season he finished as the top wicket-taker for the franchise and since 2017, Bumrah has finished 1st, 2nd, 1st and 1st in the wicket-taking charts for Mumbai. Yes, he is lagging behind this season, 4 behind the top wicket-taker Chahar, but it is worth noting that at the same stage last season, the right-armer was ranked joint-third in the charts (alongside Pattinson) before he burst his way to the top as the season progressed. As is the case with Rabada, Bumrah bowls the death overs, and thus gets gifted cheap wickets, but where he’s even better than the South African is his prowess in the powerplay. Bumrah’s biggest competitor last time around was Boult, but with wickets outside Wankhede providing no assistance for the seamers, it’ll be impossible for the Kiwi to sustain his current form. Keep calm and trust Bumrah is all we’d like to say.

Punjab Kings - Mohammed Shami

Dafabet odds: 1.90

Current tally of wickets in IPL 2021: 4

Current rank in Punjab Kings: 2

Difference between Shami and Punjab’s highest wicket-taker: 1 wicket

Closest competitors: Arshdeep Singh (5 wickets), Jhye Richardson (3 wickets)

Why you should back Shami

Mohammed Shami is not an elite T20 bowler - let us make that clear. But he is, however, a blessed wicket-taker. Expensive or economical, the right-armer always ends up with a bunch of wickets under his belt. Shami has been the top wicket-taker in each of his two seasons with the Punjab franchise and, since 2019, only Rabada and Bumrah have scalped more wickets than his tally of 43. How Shami achieves this is by going on a mad burst every season. Last season, for instance, there was a 5-game burst where he took 10 wickets, and in 2019 too, he went on a 4-match wicket-taking spree, where he dismissed 8 batsmen. One of his competitors this season, Richardson, can be ruled out because he is not a guaranteed starter, and it leaves us with only Arshdeep. The left-armer has had a sound start to the season and is also Punjab’s designated death bowler, but here’s the thing: there are no guarantees that Arshdeep will play every single game. Last season he was inexplicably dropped in the final game of the season despite being integral to the team’s mid-season turnaround, and Punjab is one such franchise notorious for making rubbish selection calls. Even if he plays, it goes unsaid that Arshdeep’s bowling lacks penetration and he is someone who is reliant on the batters to make mistakes. Even if Shami endures an ordinary season, it is almost inevitable that he will still top the wicket-taking charts for Punjab. 

Kolkata Knight Riders - Varun Chakravarthy

Dafabet odds: 3.50

Current tally of wickets in IPL 2021: 4

Current rank in Kolkata Knight Riders: 2

Difference between Varun Chakravarthy and KKR’s highest wicket-taker: 3 wickets

Closest competitors: Andre Russell (7 wickets), Pat Cummins (4 wickets), Prasidh Krishna (4 wickets)

Why you should back Varun Chakravarthy

KKR’s top wicket-taker in 2020, Varun Chakravarthy took 5 more wickets than any KKR bowler last season and that despite playing on wickets that were not conducive to spin bowling, at all. Chakravarthy was among one of just three spinners in the Top 10 wicket-takers in IPL 2020 - Chahal and Rashid being the other two - and was simply outstanding in largely batsmen-friendly conditions. Why this is being stressed upon is that with KKR playing 9 of their next 10 matches on the flat decks of Ahmedabad and Bangalore, Chakravarthy will continue to remain Morgan’s go-to man; the x-factor wicket-taker. Bowling in all three phases of the game means that he has an obvious edge over both Cummins and Prasidh, and why it’s almost certain that he’ll go past Russell is simply because he’ll bowl more. It needs to be remembered that 5 of Russell’s 7 wickets this season came in one match, and with him bowling, not more than 2 overs a game, it’ll be next to impossible for the Jamaican to sustain his current SR of 7.7. Two seasons on, a plethora of batsmen are yet to decode Varun’s mystery, and a large chunk of those cricketers will invariably fall, victim, when they match up versus the Tamil Nadu man. The bookmakers are favouring Russell, but it’ll be prudent to instead punt on Varun CV.  

Sunrisers Hyderabad - Rashid Khan

Dafabet odds: 1.55

Current tally of wickets in IPL 2021: 5

Current rank in Sunrisers Hyderabad: 1

Difference between Rashid Khan and SRH’s second-highest wicket-taker: 1 wicket

Closest competitors: Khaleel Ahmed (4), Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jason Holder (3)

Why you should back Rashid Khan

Okay, we’ll save your time here. Having to justify picking Rashid is silly but we’ll say this: in his 3 seasons at SRH, he’s finished 1st, 2nd and 1st in the wicket-takers list for the side. Two of his competitors, Holder and Khaleel, are not regular fixtures in the side, and his other competitor, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, picked up an injury in the previous encounter. Furthermore, SRH will play each of their next five games in spin-friendly venues (Chennai and Delhi). Surely nobody needs more convincing?

Royal Challengers Bangalore - Harshal Patel

Dafabet odds: 1.36

Current tally of wickets in IPL 2021: 12 wickets

Current rank in Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 (purple cap holder)

Difference between Harshal Patel and RCB’s second-highest wicket-taker: 6 wickets

Closest competitors: Kyle Jamieson (6), Mohammed Siraj (5)

Why you should back Harshal Patel

So, unlike any of the aforementioned names, there is no historical evidence to back Harshal Patel’s case; he just happens to be having a freak season. But that’s a completely valid reason to lay your faith in him, you know? It’s a bit like the kind of season Jaydev Unadkat had in 2017 - you kept thinking that he’d fail but he kept going on and on and on. A three or four wicket-lead is decent, but Harshal already has a six-wicket lead. He has, in four games, picked 3 wickets on average and is yet to not pick up at least 2 wickets in a single encounter. And yes, like Rabada and Bumrah, he will keep taking wickets because he almost bowls exclusively at the death. 10 of Harshal’s 12 wickets have come at the death and he’s bowled 56% of all his overs this season between overs 16-20. Kohli, in game one, made it clear that Harshal is RCB’s designated death bowler, and this means that, regardless of how expensive he turns out to be, he will always end up with wickets next to his name due to really being the side’s go-to death bowler. In all fairness, thanks to Chahal’s dwindling form, there’s every chance Harshal might end as RCB’s top wicket-taker even if he gets injured mid-way through the season. He’s in the midst of a crazy, crazy season. 

Rajasthan Royals - Chetan Sakariya 

Dafabet odds: 2.35

Current tally of wickets in IPL 2021: 6 wickets

Current rank in Rajasthan Royals:  1

Difference between Sakariya and RR’s second highest wicket-taker: 1 wicket

Closest competitors: Chris Morris (5 wickets), Mustafizur Rahman and Jaydev Unadkat (3 wickets)

Why you should back Sakariya

Chetan Sakariya is an interesting pick and perhaps our boldest one yet, but there is a reason why we want you to back him. The youngster has had a pretty mad start to his IPL career - two 3-wicket hauls in four games - but in a way, this was coming. In 2020/21 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Sakariya took 12 wickets in just 5 games and in his overall T20 career, he takes 1.7 wickets per game on average. This proves that he has a habit of taking wickets, and is not just a one or two-game wonder. He swings the new ball, yes, but his variations with the old nut are top tier - it is precisely why the youngster has been Samson’s go-to man at the death. 5 of Sakariya’s 6 wickets this season have come in the second half of the innings, and it was something he did in SMAT 2020/21 too, where he picked 9 off his 12 wickets in the final five overs. It is evident that he is RR’s go-to left-arm seamer over both Fizz and Unadkat - both of whom cannot be called guaranteed starters - so the youngster is essentially competing only with Chris Morris. It’d be a bit over-the-top to say that Sakariya “will” take more wickets than Morris, but he has every chance to finish ahead of the South African owing to the right-armer’s wretched injury history. 2013 was the last time Morris played all 14 group games in a season, and across each of his last four IPL campaigns, the Protea speedster has never touched double digits in terms of appearances. Morris’ dodgy fitness is one of the reasons why he was let go by RCB, and so there is no reason why Sakariya, even if he endures a mid-season lean patch, cannot finish atop RR’s wicket-takers chart. 

Chennai Super Kings - Deepak Chahar @ 1.50

Delhi Capitals - Kagiso Rabada @ 2.25

Mumbai Indians - Jasprit Bumrah @ 3.50

Punjab Kings - Mohammed Shami @ 1.90

Kolkata Knight Riders - Varun Chakravarthy @ 3.50

Sunrisers Hyderabad - Rashid Khan @ 1.55

Royal Challengers Bangalore - Harshal Patel @ 1.36

Rajasthan Royals - Chetan Sakariya @ 2.35

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