As the Indian Premier League enters its tenth edition (IPL 2017), the tournament which has redefined domestic T20 tournaments, has had the whole world trying to replicate its success. One of the reasons for its success is the presence of stars who have performed on a consistent basis.
When you have players performing on a consistent basis, the quality is bound to prepare and IPL owes a great debt to the players that have made it so successful. Unsurprisingly, players who have played with one team for a long team make the list of players who have played the most IPL games.
The likes of Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, and Yusuf Pathan only just miss out on the top five. Here are the 5 players who have played the most games in the IPL ahead of IPL 2017:
#5 Dinesh Karthik
Of all the players in the top five, Dinesh Karthik is the only player to have played for more than two teams in the IPL. He has played for Delhi Daredevils, Kings XI Punjab, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore and current side, Gujarat Lions.
Throughout the course of the nine editions of the IPL, Karthik has been bought for big sums by teams, including Delhi Daredevils, who have bought him twice, courtesy of the flexibility he brings to the side as a top-order batsman who can also keep wickets.
In total, he has played 138 matches and scored 2,542 runs at an average of 23.75 and strike rate in excess of 120. He hasn't scored a hundred in IPL and while his highest score is 86, he has 12 fifties to his name. While his numbers may not be extraordinary, there can be little doubt about his consistency and fitness, having taken part in the tournament since its inception and being the first-choice for quite a few teams.
#4 Virat Kohli
No player has scored more runs than Kohli in the history of the IPL. Only one has scored more centuries in the tournament (Chris Gayle has 5) than his four while he is one of only two players who have scored over 4,000 runs in the tournament. So there should be no surprise at his presence in this list.
The Indian captain is also the only person on this list to have played all his games for just one IPL team (Royal Challengers Bangalore). With 139 matches under his belt, Kohli takes the fourth spot on the all-time IPL appearances chart. Although he hasn't been able to add an IPL title to his kitty, he has almost done everything he possibly can for RCB.
All of Virat Kohli's four IPL centuries came in IPL 2016 but his tally of 4,110 runs at an average of 38.05 and strike rate of over 130 merely highlights his consistency in the format. His tally of 26 fifties in the tournament is only bettered by four players and there can be little doubt about his status as one of the best to have every played in the tournament.
#3 Rohit Sharma
No player has won the IPL more times than Rohit Sharma, who has won it thrice (twice with his current side, Mumbai Indians and once with Deccan Chargers) but despite being an integral part of two IPL sides, Rohit Sharma has to contend with third place on this list.
Only two players have scored more IPL fifties (Gautam Gambhir and David Warner) and runs (Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina) than Rohit Sharma who is closing in on becoming the third player to score 4,000 runs in the tournament. He has got there by playing in 142 matches, which is third only behind two of the most recognizable faces in the history of the IPL.
3,874 runs at an average of nearly 35 and a strike rate of 130 just highlights his immense success as an opener in the tournament. Yet, despite regularly featuring in the IPL play-offs, his 142 games in the tournament is only good enough for third place.
#2 MS Dhoni
IPL's most successful captain, MS Dhoni, unsurprisingly takes second spot in the list of most matches played in the tournament. Soon after leading India to glory in the inaugural World T20, Dhoni hasn't looked back at all and his tally of 143 IPL matches is beaten by only one player.
Among players who have scored at least 2,000 runs in the IPL, only Chris Gayle and Shaun Marsh, have a better average than MS Dhoni's 39.39. If averaging nearly 40 runs in a T20 game is impressive, what is even more is his strike rate of nearly 140, which means he gets consistent runs quickly as well.
Dhoni is one of only 10 players to have scored over 3,000 runs in the IPL and will play in IPL 2017 for the first time as a non-captain after Steven Smith was appointed as the skipper of Rising Pune Supergiants.
#1 Suresh Raina
If there is one player whose name is synonymous with IPL, that has to be Suresh Raina. The southpaw made a name for himself as arguably the most consistent player in IPL history, courtesy of his time at the Chennai Super Kings. Having missed his first IPL game in 2016 for the birth of his daughter, it is no surprise that he tops this list.
Raina tops most IPL lists and only just lost out to Virat Kohli in the most runs charts after the latter's incredible performances in IPL 2016 but he is still one of only two players to have scored over 4,000 runs in the tournament.
Not only has he scored a lot of runs but he has been consistent as well, evident from his average of nearly 35 and strike rate that is fast approaching 140. With 147 IPL games under his belt, Raina will be looking to become the first player to play in 150 matches in the tournament as the tenth edition of the competition gets underway next month.