The global popularity of IPL today is on par with the ICC tournaments. It attracts the biggest names in the cricketing circuits and the broadcasting rights of the IPL are unparalleled. With the 2021 season coming to an end, we have witnessed 14 complete seasons of IPL. In the interim, teams have been added, some teams have been relegated, players have been transferred, teams suspended, players suspended, and some incredible cricket.
Just as in international cricket, we have witnessed certain cricketers achieving legendary status, IPL too has seen cricketers who have become legends in the tournament. There are cricketers who have consistently performed at the highest level have today etched their names in the record books of IPL. They may be international or Indian superstars but they irrespective, they are household names in India. There are bowlers, batsmen, and all-rounders who would qualify in this list.
There are players who have shown brilliant skill and put up some noteworthy performances in a single season. However, we look at the 5 all-time best performers in the IPL who have season after season excelled and contributed to the team’s success.
1. Lasith Malinga
One of the most important proponents of Mumbai Indians gigantic success over the years. Malinga transformed the T20 game on the back of his ability to bowl incessant slow balls and choke run flow at the death. In all-time wicket-takers, Malinga takes pole position. He has 170 wickets to his name. His death bowling prowess needs no introduction. On the list of bowlers with the best economy in death overs, Malinga ranks 3rd.
2. David Warner
Between 2015 and 2020, David Warner has transformed T20 batting in the IPL. He currently stands 5th on the list of all-time run-scorers in IPL history with more than 5600 runs at an astounding strike rate of 140. Among batsmen with more than 100 IPL games, he averages the highest. All of this after considering that he was banned for a year in 2018. With 7 seasons of 400 or more runs in IPL, Warner is an IPL superstar. His contributions between 2014 and 2019 where he scored more than 550 runs in almost every season cannot be forgotten. He won the trophy for SRH in 2016.
3. Virat Kohli
King Kohli has been the heartbeat of Royal Challengers Bangalore and one of their fiercest loyal soldiers. Just like international cricket, Kohli has his name across most batting records in IPL as well. He leads the charts of the most number of runs in IPL with a mammoth 6283 runs. He has 4 IPL hundreds with 3 of them coming in 2016 itself. His record of 2016 may never be broken where he amassed 973 runs in a single season. If he can his franchise to win an IPL trophy, he will be one of the greatest IPL players.
4. Suresh Raina
Just like Kohli, Suresh Raina is the fiercest soldier that Chennai Super Kings has been instrumental in their IPL wins so far. The franchise has won 4 IPL trophies until now and Raina has been a key man in all. From 2008-2020, he has played every game for his franchises except for sitting out for one. This record may go unchallenged. Raina is the 4th highest run-scorer in IPL history and has the most number of innings after Rohit Sharma (this is after he sat the entire 2020 season out).
5. Dwayne Bravo
Another CSK legend on this list is Bravo. He has proven over the years that age is just a number and he can deliver at the highest level even at this age. Sitting second after Lasith Malinga on the list of highest wicket-takers of all time with 167 scalps. Bravo’s average also is among the top 5 bowlers of all time. He has two purple caps to his name and also holds the record for the highest number of wickets in a single season with 32 wickets. Bravo, just like Malinga, is an expert death bowler with his competency in the slower ball and toe-crushing yorkers.
6. AB de Villiers
This list was supposed to have the greatest 5 IPL cricketers of all times but it would unfair to not include these two names. They make it to the list as honorable mentions. AB has been the most impactful IPL cricketer thus far. On the run-scoring chart, he makes it at the 6th spot with more than 5100 runs. It is his average of 40 and strike rate of 152 when coming at the death overs to bat at 4 and 5 which is marvelous. To come out and tonk the best bowlers on will put AB in a different league of cricketers. For any batsman who has played 50 innings, he has been ranked the best finisher by Wisden Cricket as the best death overs finisher in IPL history.
7. Kieron Pollard
The second honorable mention on this list is the Mumbai Indians beast, Pollard. One may not find on the list of most runs scored or wickets were taken, but that is because of Pollard’s batting position in the team. He is the quintessential finisher for the team coming out after the 16th over. Most often than not, he has got the job done for the team. He has played innings where his team was down and out but he alone has been able to salvage a win from the most unlikely situation. Pollard will always be considered an IPL champion for what he has done for his team.