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The Top 5 players in IPL history

IPL 2020 is in full swing, with the world’s biggest and best cricketers all travelling to the United Arab Emirates to play in the world’s biggest franchise tournament. This year’s competition looks set to be a cracker and we’ve already seen some thrilling matches that have gone right down to the wire.

But who are the best players to ever play in this prestigious tournament? We’ve picked who we think are the top five players in IPL history. If you think we’ve got it wrong, or that you’ve got a brain for picking players and predicting matches, then you can always put it to the test by downloading the Tenner app and predicting IPL matches today, all for free!

5. Suresh Raina

Suresh Raina Chennai Super Kings IPL

If you asked Alexa to define ‘underrated cricketer’ then it’s almost certain that she would respond by saying the name Suresh Raina. The unassuming batsman has long been an underappreciated limited overs player who perhaps does not get the plaudits he deserves.

Raina is the second highest IPL run scorer of all time, playing a record 158 consecutive matches for the Chennai Super Kings in his favourite number 3 position. As if these individual stats weren’t enough to put Raina in our top five, he has won the IPL three-times, making him a certified IPL legend and one of the greatest IPL players of all time.

Steady accumulator and explosive smasher all in one

While the CSK legend might be best known for his stealthy but lethal accumulation of singles and twos, many people seem less aware of the number 3’s power hitting capabilities and ability to move into top gear. This is best exemplified by Raina’s innings that ultimately came in a losing cause against Kings XI Punjab back in 2013.

After Virender Sehwag had blasted 122 off 58 balls for the Kings XI, the Chennai Super Kings were set a daunting 227 to win. What followed was a staggering 87 runs off 25 balls by Raina striking at a rate of 348 runs for every 100 balls faced. It was the second-fastest fifty in IPL history off just 16 balls, featuring a beautiful lofted cover drive for six off Sandeep Sharma’s bowling.

Ultimately, Raina’s heroics weren’t enough for CSK who fell short of the target, but the innings served as a permanent reminder to all IPL fans of Suresh Raina’s adaptability, class, and destructive capabilities.

4. Sunil Narine

Sunil Narine Kolkata Knight Riders IPL

Arguably the most difficult spinner to face in IPL history, and a handy pinch hitting batsman at the top of the order, Sunil Narine more than deserves a spot in this top five. With an average IPL match performance of 21 runs off 11 balls and 1 for 26 in 3.5 overs, Narine’s numbers are as good as they get for a limited overs all rounder.

Narine the bowler

Sunil Narine is probably best known for his mysterious spin and wicket taking capabilities in the shortest format of the game. Being able to turn the ball both ways meant that batsmen found it hard to score off him, and as a result he was able to provide control for his team even when his team mates were getting smashed all over the park by the opposition batsman.

Until last year’s IPL, Narine had bowled 426 overs in the IPL and conceded just 6.67 runs per over. The only other bowler to bowl over 400 overs with an economy rate less than 7 is Ravichandran Ashwin, another IPL great. Narine’s achievement is even more striking when you consider that most of his overs were bowled in the powerplay (at the start of the innings) and the death overs (at the end). These are traditionally the periods in which most runs are scored by the opposition, making Narine’s miserly economy rate even more impressive.

Narine the pinch hitter

But Narine’s ability to bowl excellently controlled spin is not the only string to his bow, recently the bowler’s pinch hitting skills were discovered somewhat out of the blue. When he was picked as an opening batsman for the Kolkata Knight Riders as an experiment three years ago plenty of eyebrows were raised from IPL fans, pundits, and ex-professionals. We think it’s fair to say the experiment worked though and since then Narine has scored at a strike rate of 183.90, higher than any other opener since 2017.

Being able to get his team off to a flying start alongside years of incredible bowling performances give us no choice but to include Sunil Narine in our top 5 players in IPL history.

3. Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma Mumbai Indians IPL
Rohit Sharma is the only player in IPL history with a hat-trick and a hundred to his name

There’s no way you can make a list of the top five players in IPL history and not include one of the best limited overs players of all time. Rohit Sharma has the highest individual score in ODI history and is the highest ever run scorer in T20 Internationals. He’s also an IPL superstar and has been for many years. With the bat and as captain Rohit Sharma has all the essentials of an IPL great: cool under pressure with an abundance of flair.

Captain fantastic

The stats don’t lie, Rohit Sharma is the most successful IPL captain ever, having led Mumbai Indians to four titles. Sharma has always led from the front, opening the batting in a team known for its incredible competition for places. This makes it all the more remarkable that the Mumbai Indians captain is the third-highest run scorer ever in the IPL. He has been successful opening the batting, batting in the middle order and believe it or not, the batsman even has an IPL hat-trick to his name!

2. Lasith Malinga

Lasith Malinga Mumbai Indians IPL

Arguably the first specialist limited over bowler, Lasith Malinga ripped up the coaching manual on bowling when he burst onto the scene with his unusual but incredibly effective slingy action.

‘Slinger Malinga’

Lasith Malinga’s bowling action broke the mould in limited overs cricket and his skill and ability to bowl yorkers and slower balls at the end of an innings surpassed any other T20 bowler of his generation. The round-arm action Malinga employed allowed him to create angles that batsmen had never faced before in this form of the game, with his trademark in-swinging yorker proving practically impossible to face.

T20 specialist and IPL superstar

Of course, many cricketers have had unusual bowling actions, but far fewer have been able to adapt and utilise them in as effective a way as Malinga has. This made Malinga a must-have for IPL teams when the competition formed, and since then the Sri Lankan quick bowler has taken the competition by storm.

Malinga remains the leading IPL wicket taker of all time, taking the most wickets of anyone in the 2011 tournament. Eight years later he took a wicket off the final ball of the match in order to help the Mumbai Indians to a one run victory in the IPL final.

The evergreen T20 specialist is a joy to watch and could easily have come first in our list on another day.

1. Chris Gayle

Chris Gayle IPL

Chris Gayle, the Universe Boss, the coolest man on the planet. You can call him whatever you want, this guy is an absolute T20 genius and we challenge you to find anyone else on the planet who is more entertaining to watch on a cricket field. Chris Gayle comes top of our list for a number of reasons: the sheer weight of runs he has scored in the IPL; the rate at which he has scored them; and the hilariously nonchalant way in which he has done it all.

Gayle’s record in the IPL is nothing short of a joke. He has scored 2,512 runs in 59 matches at an average of 52.33 and a strike rate of 160.20. Those runs include 16 fifties and four hundreds, it’s fair to say that Chris Gayle does not shy away from the big stage.

The big West Indian makes hundreds for fun and holds a place in IPL folklore for what is still the fastest T20 hundred ever.

The Universe Boss does not feel pressure

One area Gayle is not given enough credit is in his ability to score runs quickly on difficult surfaces. Perhaps Gayle’s most underrated innings came in the opening match of the 2013 IPL while playing for RCB. On a sticky wicket Gayle made 92 off 58 balls, for context, the next highest score for his team was 24 scored by Virat Kohli and only one other batsman in the match scored more than 30. When it came to batting in the IPL, Gayle was one of a kind and this makes him our pick for the greatest IPL player in history.

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