Warner, de Villiers or Gayle?: Who is the Greatest Overseas Batsman in IPL?

Spellbinding consistency, shots that leave you speechless or sensational strike-making, what would you choose? Not the easiest set of choices to choose from, right? David Warner, AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle have been defined by these three variables over the ages in IPL respectively. While Warner has been putting up one of the greatest displays of consistent batting, de Villiers has put up a masterclass of scintillating shots over the ages and Gayle has made batting look easy in IPL.

Without a further thought, these three overseas players can be counted among the greatest IPL batsmen of all time. But, who has been the best among these three? Let’s take a look:

3. Chris Gayle

Time and again, Gayle keeps reminding us why he is self-titled the ‘Universe Boss’. He gives us few of those innings which just leave us awestruck.

Gayle started his IPL career with Kolkata Knight Riders from the second season of IPL, for whom he blew hot and cold. While there were some good innings, they were clearly overshadowed by many forgettable innings. This led to KKR releasing him and Royal Challengers Bangalore grabbing him in the auctions.

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Right in his first game for RCB, against his ex-team KKR, he scored a century giving a glimpse of the history he was set to write. He went on to score another century and also 36 runs off an over (which included a no-ball) in that season. He won the Orange Cap that season.

Following this season was another Orange Cap-winning season for Gayle having scored 733 runs. Gayle was undoubtedly the most-feared man to bowl to, then. The next season of IPL featured one of the greatest T20 batting displays of all-time when he scored 175* in 66 balls. He just missed the Orange Cap by 25 runs that season. These three years of IPL, 2011-2013, Gayle was at his peak. In all these three years, he won the ‘Maximum Sixes Award’ hitting 154 sixes over the three-year span.

Following that season was a failure for Gayle who couldn’t notch up many runs. After this season were three more quiet seasons in which both his strike-rate and his average dipped and RCB released him from the team.

Post this, he was picked by Kings XI Punjab where he has been playing for the past three seasons with questionable consistency.

Gayle’s biggest strength is the intimidation he gives to the bowlers who bowl to him even now. On his day, he is a delight for even the Gods to watch, but on his bad days, his stroke-making and strike-rotation go for a toss. That doesn’t take anything away from him from being crowned an ‘IPL Great’. One point to be noted is that in his 11 seasons of IPL he has not been able to land the title.

2. AB de Villiers

AB is arguably the most popular overseas player in India. The sheer confidence with which he plays those 360° shots against the best bowlers is just stunning.

AB started his IPL career playing for the Delhi Daredevils in the inaugural season. This was a forgettable season for him as he just scored 95 runs in 6 matches. In the next season, he scored a century and three half-centuries, but another disappointing season followed that. This led to the Daredevils releasing him.

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He was then picked up by Royal Challengers Bangalore where his T20 career started booming. Together with Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle, de Villiers formed a dangerous trio which made RCB’s batting very intimidating.

In his early seasons for RCB, AB mostly functioned as a finisher scoring a good number of runs at strike-rates of over 150. His ability to play the best of bowlers helped RCB snatch a lot of games from the jaws of defeat. One particular instance would be him scoring 24 runs in Dale Steyn’s bowling back in 2014.

The years 2015 and 2016 were easily the best seasons for de Villiers as he scored over 500 runs in both the seasons. After Gayle’s departure from RCB, de Villiers has had bigger duties as a batsman and he has gracefully filled the void left by Gayle. Just like his contemporary, Gayle, de Villiers too has never had the luck of winning an IPL trophy.

1. David Warner

You would be surprised to know that David Warner has always scored a minimum of 500 runs for Sunrisers Hyderabad in every season. That makes it 5 seasons on a trot. Even in the current season, he is on the verge of crossing that milestone. What a consistency, right?

Warner too started his IPL career with Delhi Daredevils, like de Villiers. He played 5 seasons for them with his form being on and off. Although he scored 2 centuries for DD in those 5 seasons, a few ‘not-so-impressive’ seasons led them to release him.

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He was then picked up by SRH, where his prosperity as a batsman in IPL started. In his first season for SRH, he scored 528 runs standing among the highest run-scorers of the tournament. In the next season, he was appointed the captain of SRH. He once again showed his brilliance by scoring a good number of runs and also winning the Orange Cap.

Following that season, he ended up as the second-highest run-scorer and also led the team to its first championship. In the next season, he once again won the Orange Cap and he couldn’t play the following season as BCCI banned him following the ball-tampering events in South Africa. For the 2019 season, he made a comeback for SRH and once again won the Orange Cap.

From the 2014 to 2017 seasons, he was partnered by Shikhar Dhawan in batting, whose form often was on and off. After his comeback for SRH post the ban, he is being ably supported by Jonny Bairstow and Kane Williamson.

Overall, Warner has 3 Orange Caps in the IPL. He also is the first player to complete fifty 50+ scores, first overseas player and the fourth overall to score 5000 IPL runs and also the fastest to reach this landmark. He has also led his team to the trophy once.

While Warner doesn’t boast of the firepower Gayle has or the range AB has, his consistency as well as the fact that he holds many IPL records as a batsman makes him the best overseas batsman in IPL.

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