In India the month of April signifies two things: the onset of the summer season and the commencement of the new season of the Indian Premier League. The roller-coaster ride that each edition has proven to be, IPL 2017, which gets underway on the 5th of April when the defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad take on the mighty Royal Challengers Bangalore, will be an exciting affair.
T20 cricket is essentially considered to be a batsman’s game, the small sized boundaries and larger bat sizes only further tilting the balance in their favour. Every year batsmen make merry on Indian pitches which are dead after the long home season.
We see teams scoring incredibly quickly and posting huge totals on the scoreboard, in turn being overhauled by the chasing team. We have had stellar batting performances across the IPL and every edition has had some batsman or the other leaving his stamp on the entire tournament. To honour this achievement, the Orange Cap is annually awarded to the leading run scorer in the league.
Let us take a look at the winners of the Orange Cap through the history of the IPL.
#2008 Shaun Marsh, Kings XI Punjab
M: 11, Runs: 616, Avg.: 68.44, SR: 139.68
Shaun Marsh may not have been as consistent for the Australian team as he has been for his franchise Kings XI Punjab. His entry into the league was a bit delayed but he set the stage alight upon his arrival. Scoring a ton (115 vs Rajasthan Royals) and five half centuries, the Aussie was a reliable opener and became the fulcrum of the team’s batting.
His sound batting technique and ability to score swiftly without taking many risks helped him a great deal to excel at the top of the batting order. His IPL exploits proved to be the ideal platform for him to showcase his talent as it later helped him earn a call-up to the Australian team at the international level.
#2009 Matthew Hayden, Chennai Super Kings
M: 12, Runs: 572, Avg.: 52.00, SR: 144.81
The second season of the IPL was shifted to South Africa due to the General Elections in India. It was another Aussie batsman who stole the show this time around as well. The explosive and intimidating batsman that he is, Matthew Hayden scored five 50+ scores in the tournament ensuring that his team got off to the ideal start every time they came out to bat.
His runs which were scored at a healthy average of 52 often proved as the deciding factor in the games won by Chennai. The then 37-year-old ‘Haydos’ also showed that the T20 format could be dominated by a veteran of the game as opposed to the general opinion that only young legs can rule the shortest format of the sport.
#2010 Sachin Tendulkar, Mumbai Indians
M: 15, Runs: 618, Avg.: 47.53, SR: 132.61
When one is talking about leading run scorers, be it any format of the game, Sachin Tendulkar’s name cannot be far behind. The ‘Little Master’ created the record for the most runs in a single IPL season as he went past Marsh’s tally of 616 runs. His 618 runs included 5 half centuries, scored @ 47.53 runs per dismissal and a strike rate of 132.61.
The striking feature of his 2010 campaign was that he hit just 3 sixes in the entire tournament, which is a testimony to the fact that he hardly needed to play risky shots to score his runs quickly. With umpteen batting records already to his name, the Orange Cap was just another feather in his well-decorated hat.
#2011 Chris Gayle, Royal Challengers Bangalore
M: 12, Runs: 608, Avg.: 67.55, SR: 183.13
One of the biggest moves in the history of the IPL was when Royal Challengers Bangalore acquired Chris Gayle, who was earlier unsold at the auction, as a replacement for the injured Dirk Nannes, after the start of the 2011 edition.
Gayle, also known as the ‘Six Machine’ drastically changed the entire image of the league with his devastating batting at the top of the batting order. Becoming the first batsman to score two centuries in a single edition of the league, he topped the batting charts, scoring his runs at an astounding average of 67.55.
His strike rate of 183.13 in the 2011 IPL remains a record for all Orange Cap holders till date.
#2012 Chris Gayle, Royal Challengers Bangalore
M: 15, Runs: 733, Avg.: 61.08, SR: 160.74
Christopher Henry Gayle started off the 2012 season from exactly where he left in the previous year. His staggering batting and six hitting ability gave him a demi-god status amongst the Bangalore fans, the craziest fan base any cricket franchise can boast of.
He also established the record for the most runs in a single IPL season as he scored an astonishing 733 runs with the help of a glittering ton against Delhi Daredevils. Bowlers and fielding team captains were left clueless and the spectators were in for a treat every time the Jamaican walked into bat.
His performances in the IPL saw him signing handsome contracts with cricket franchises across the globe and also helped him return to his national team.
#2013 Michael Hussey, Chennai Super Kings
M: 17, Runs: 733, Avg.: 52.35, SR: 129.5
‘Mr. Cricket’ Mike Hussey, is yet another Australian to make this list. Hussey opened the innings for Chennai Super Kings in the 2013 season and scored his runs at a healthy average in excess of 50.
He was the pillar of their batting as he laid a solid platform for the likes of Raina and Dhoni to come and explode in the death overs, helping their team post daunting totals.
Equaling Gayle’s record for maximum runs in a single season, Hussey scored six half centuries en-route to his Orange Cap award winning performance in 2013.Then 38-years-old, Michael Hussey remains the oldest recipient of the Orange Cap in the history of the tournament.
#2014 Robin Uthappa, Kolkata Knight Riders
M: 16, Runs: 660, Avg.: 44.00, SR: 137.78
After decent performances for Royal Challengers Bangalore and Pune Warriors India, Robin Uthappa’s breakthrough season came in 2014 when he helped his team KKR achieve the silverware.
Opening the batting with captain Gautam Gambhir, Uthappa crossed the 40-run mark 11 times in the tournament, breaking the record earlier held by Hayden. Eight of these scores came in consecutive matches which is in itself a T20 record.
In addition to being the team’s wicketkeeper, Uthappa also proved to be their most reliable man with bat in hand. This was also the first and till date the only instance of the Orange Cap winner belonging to the IPL winning team.
#2015 David Warner, Sunrisers Hyderabad
M: 14, Runs: 562, Avg.: 43.23, SR: 156.54
The fourth Australian opener to top the batting charts in the IPL, ‘pocket-sized dynamo’ David Warner almost single-handedly won matches for his team Sunrisers Hyderabad. Scoring seven 50’s with a best of 91, Warner did the bulk of the scoring for his team.
Leading from the front, Warner seldom let his fans and teammates down as he often ensured respectable totals on the board, giving his bowlers enough to defend. The only other thing he would have wished for would have been helping his team win the title, which did not happen as the Sunrisers crashed out after the league stage.
#2016 Virat Kohli, Royal Challengers Bangalore
M: 16, Runs: 973, Avg.: 81.90, SR: 148.14
Prior to the 2016 edition, Virat Kohli was criticised for not having been able to score a single century in the T20 format. By the end of the 2016 season, he had four centuries to his name. Records came tumbling as the RCB skipper wielded his bat like a magic wand, casting a spell on the cricket fans and silencing all his critics.
Coming close to scoring a thousand runs in a single season, the current Indian captain helped his team reach the finals of the tournament. Injury also could not stop him from flaunting his batting talent as he raced his way to one of the centuries against Kings XI Punjab with stitches in his left (bottom) hand.
There hardly seemed a bowler who could trouble him, let alone get him out. The only thing he could have asked more for was laying his hands on the IPL trophy, agonisingly falling a step short of it for the third time. But as they say, true champions do not need trophies to show their class and pedigree.