Gloves Off

IPL 9 has been a Virat Kohli show all the way

It's not just about the way he scores, it's also how he ensures RCB feeds on his energy and performs as a unit.

 |  Gloves Off  |  4-minute read |   29-05-2016
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There is a sense of fatigue for instant cricket fans as the curtain comes down on the Indian Premier League in Bangalore on Sunday. For over three months it has been only T20 cricket at home, with the ICC World Cup first served up.

The gap between the World Cup and the IPL was so short, it required something extraordinary for the premier clubs to come out tops.

The usual craze for IPL tickets has been on the wane and wanting to follow every bit of action on television is not the same anymore. Yet, inside the arena on Sunday, there will not be a single empty seat as Royal Challengers Bangalore takes on surprise finalists Sunrisers Hyderabad.

It's a final contest between two teams, which one may not have expected when the IPL began in April.

Also read - Is Virat Kohli making you fall in love again?

Such has been the pattern of play this time; it's all about batsmen slaughtering the bowlers and runs being scored mercilessly.

For those who value the nuances of good bowling, there has not been too much to see, though Sunrisers' Bhuvneshwar Kumar tops the chart with a 23-wicket haul. If he gets a couple of wickets more in the final, it would be even more creditable.

To be sure, if one looks at the batting statistics in IPL 9, it has been a Virat Kohli show all the way with 919 runs to his credit. Four hundreds and six half centuries have defined his dominance for RCB, who, at the start the tournament were not the favourites.

nehra-m1_052916105017.jpg Sunrisers Hyderabad would miss the injured Ashish Nehra. (BCCI)

Add to it the arrogance of AB de Villiers as a marauding batsman, RCB turned into a side which could score bucketful of runs in no time. People have loved the way Kohli and de Villiers have smashed sixes at will in the tournament but this is not the way contests should be in a format where bowlers are always at a disadvantage.

But then, who cares about bowlers in any format in cricket these days?

Back to Sunday's contest, on paper, everything seems loaded in favour of RCB. They will be playing their ninth match at home and given the raucous fan base they have, the Sunrisers know they have to do more than routine to make it a good contest.

David Warner has batted with gay abandon and as the second highest scorer with 779 runs to his credit, he and Shikhar Dhawan have to score in the final. They form the fulcrum of the Hyderabad side's batting and are aware that to compete against Kohli and de Villiers will not be easy.

The talking point of the tournament has predictably been Virat Kohli. It's not just about the way he scores runs, it's also about the way he ensures the Bangalore side feeds on his energy and performs as a unit.

Initially, it appeared RCB would find it tough in IPL 9 as they did not have a potent bowling line-up. But as the tournament wore on, Kohli, the smart captain that he is, realised he needed a bowler who was not going to be in the run-restricting mode but someone who could take wickets.

Yuzvendra Chahal has turned out to be a big man for RCB as he has taken 20 wickets till now.

Also read - IPL 9 shows Dhoni's days are over, Kohli is the new king

Along with Shane Watson, he becomes a key player for RCB in the bowling department. The other bowler who has his task cut out is Sreenath Aravind.

Looking back, it has been creditable for RCB to find their way back into the tournament after they faced elimination at one stage. It's this experience of having seen the highs and lows which will make them fierce competitors in Sunday's final.

For Sunrisers, the absence of Ashish Nehra is a big factor. As the seasoned bowler recuperates in England after a knee surgery, he could well be watching on TV how his replacement Trent Boult fires. Not given too many chances, Boult did reasonably well in the crucial match against Lions.

If there is one team which promised a lot and then faded out, it has to be Suresh Raina-led Gujarat Lions. They played bold cricket initially but when it came to the climactic stage, they came short against Sunrisers.

Talking about players who did well in the previous first class season and failed in IPL 9, the names of Shreyas Iyer, Unmukt Chand and Shardul Thakur come to the mind.

There are lessons to be learnt from this that the IPL doesn't always throw up talent and one needs to focus on domestic cricket to find talent for the future.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)


S Kannan S Kannan @kannandelhi

Sports columnist.

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