IPL 2015 May 25, 2015

Starc and the old boys

The best bowling spells of IPL 2015

Mitchell Starc conceded only two sixes in 13 matches this season © BCCI

Ashish Nehra, 3 for 28 v Royal Challengers Bangalore, Qualifier 2

A quick bowler prone to injuries, aged 36, with four middling seasons of IPL behind him and little cricket in the build-up to this tournament? Not the CV of someone set for a stellar season, but Ashish Nehra has plenty of experience proving the doubters wrong. He took 22 wickets in 16 matches, tormenting Royal Challengers Bangalore the most - 4 for 10, 3 for 19, and finally 3 for 28 in the playoffs. With R Ashwin turning the ball away from the right-handers in the knockout game, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers targeted Nehra, who dismissed both in the same over to leave Royal Challengers hobbling.

Zaheer Khan, 2 for 9 v Chennai Super Kings

A quick bowler prone to injuries, aged 36, with no cricket behind him in nearly a year? Not the CV of someone who earned the fourth largest paycheck at the auction earlier this year, but Zaheer Khan showed he had lost none of his old guile after reaching full fitness midway through the season. The highlight was his dissection of Chennai Super Kings' openers as Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum poked and prodded against the moving ball. Zaheer returned to take the wicket of MS Dhoni in the penultimate over, as he finished with 19 dot balls of his 24. He wasn't done yet: he turned into an on-field bowling coach as he talked the young Gurinder Sandhu through every ball of the final over.

Brad Hogg, 4 for 29 v Chennai Super Kings

The third of our best spells of the season comes from a bowler well older than both Nehra and Zaheer - in fact, the oldest cricketer to have played in the IPL. Forty-four year-old Brad Hogg's chinaman bowling naturally attracted Kolkata Knight Riders, who have rarely been able to say no to an unconventional spinner. His Test debut was nearly two decades ago, but batsmen still struggle to pick his variations. Faf du Plessis was done in by the wrong 'un that has worked so well for years, and the mighty Super Kings came undone as Hogg took four and made Knight Riders forget they were missing the suspended Sunil Narine.

Mitchell Starc, 3 for 22 v Rajasthan Royals

Unlike with the performances of others on the list so far, there was zero surprise to see Mitchell Starc succeed in the IPL. Having been named Man of the Series in the World Cup, he established himself as the leading limited-overs bowler in the world, and provided exactly what Royal Challengers needed - a world-class bowler to help defend the scores put up by their batting megastars. Pace, movement and an unerring yorker that lasered towards the base of the stumps meant Royal Challengers were transformed as soon as he arrived: in his second game, he took three as Royals were stifled for 130, and Royal Challengers lost only one of their next seven matches.

Chris Morris, 4 for 23 v Kolkata Knight Riders

In a crunch game against Knight Riders which would decide whether they would make the playoffs, Rajasthan Royals began well as Shane Watson's century set up a tall total. It was a batting pitch though, and Knight Riders had plenty of depth - Shakib Al Hasan was slotted at No. 7. James Faulkner had another off day in a bad season, Watson and Dhawal Kulkarni were caned for more than nine an over, IPL debutant Brainder Sran was hit out of the attack, and it was left to Morris to keep Royals' chances alive. He did, with key wickets across the innings: Gautam Gambhir in the first, Man of the Series Andre Russell in the 14th to end another explosive cameo, and Shakib in the final over to put the result beyond doubt. All while giving away less than a run a ball.

Honourable mentions
Sandeep Sharma, 4 for 25 v Kolkata Knight Riders
Harbhajan Singh, 2 for 26 v Chennai Super Kings, Qualifier 1
S Aravind, 4 for 27 v Kings XI Punjab
R Ashwin, 2 for 5 v Kolkata Knight Riders

Which other spell should have made this list?

Siddarth Ravindran is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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  • Dummy4 on May 26, 2015, 15:12 GMT

    nehra 4 for 10!! its afterall what we expected to top the group!

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