One of the primary reasons why the Indian T20 League has remained the best 20-over league in the world for thirteen long years is its ability to be unpredictable. Despite featuring some of the top cricketers from across the planet for more than a decade, none could boast of mastering the art of winning the league even today.
From the king of consistency to the greatest entertainer that the game has seen to the most brutal wielder of the willow, here’s the list of top cricketers who have managed to lit up the IPL time and again but never lifted the title.
Reaching yet another milestone some days back as he became the first Indian to reach 9000 T20 runs, Virat Kohli has been one of the most prolific scorers IPL has ever seen. An RCB loyal from the very first season, Kohli has hardly seen an underwhelming season in the world’s best T20 league. His best IPL season had come in 2016 when the skipper had amassed an unreal 973 runs in a single season, grabbing four centuries in the process. RCB had reached the final and fought a losing battle against SRH, which remains Team Bangalore’s best shot at IPL till date. Kohli has an envying five centuries and 37 half-centuries in IPL so far.
A batting legend in the making, KL Rahul had announced his arrival in IPL back in the 2016 season when Kohli was sweeping everyone off their feet. The 25-year-old had scored 397 runs with four fifties, before his injury ruled him out of IPL 2017. RCB made the mistake of not retaining him and the batsman has since gone from strength to strength. He returned with KXIP and tallied 659 runs in 2018, before amassing 593 runs in 2019. Though KL Rahul hasn’t seen twelve IPLs like Virat Kohli, his T20 acumen – which ranks him fourth in ICC T20I World Rankings – was insufficient to fetch him an IPL title by now.
AB de Villiers
A T20 cricketer, who was chosen on this list purely for his qualitative attributes over quantitative, AB de Villiers shares the same fate as Virat Kohli – loved by the world but no luck with the IPL title. It was after three uneventful IPL seasons with Delhi Daredevils that de Villiers decided to join RCB and his life was never the same again. Having teamed up with stalwarts like Rahul, Kohli, Chris Gayle and others in RCB’s daunting batting order, the South African superstar has become India’s darling over the past decade. Whether it was his one-hand jumping catch at the edge of the boundary rope, or the absolute hammering of compatriot Dale Steyn, De Villiers’ IPL stint has been an action-adventure movie. Over the years, De Villiers has garnered 4550 runs in IPL and three centuries, but neither has RCB lifted the title nor AB de Villiers.
Brendon McCullum might not have been the greatest of batsmen in IPL in his decade-long stint, but IPL owes a great deal to the New Zealand opener. McCullum had sparked a promise in IPL’s maiden match in 2008 by virtue of which the tournament is remembered by many even today. Starting with KKR, McCullum has gone on to play for RCB, CSK and other franchises, managing 2881 runs and two centuries during his time but the title kept evading him throughout his career. The retired opener has returned to KKR as a coach in hope of getting his hands on the coveted trophy.
Arguably the best T20 opener to ever grace the game of cricket, Chris Gayle had once turned IPL into his yearly dose of muscle exhibition. Starting with KKR where he could hardly play matches in his first two seasons, Gayle, like AB de Villiers, found his mojo in RCB. His first season with Bangalore, where he amassed 608 runs, was a sign of things to come and the towering West Indian went on to score 700 plus runs for two consecutive IPL seasons thereafter. Having a whopping six centuries and 28 fifties in IPL, Gayle is easily the best opener IPL has ever seen. However, despite his superhuman abilities to cross the boundary, regardless of the opponent, the southpaw remains bereft of an IPL trophy even after 10 years.
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