An IPL of records

CityPress - - Sport - Hus­sain – Muham­mad

A Ja­maican, an In­dian and a South African walk into a sta­dium.

This was the scene last week when the Royal Chal­lengers Ban­ga­lore (RCB) took on the Sun­ris­ers Hy­der­abad (SRH) in the ninth In­dian Premier League (IPL) fi­nal.

The teams had never been in a fi­nal be­fore and the at­mos­phere, tone and emo­tions were hang­ing on a cusp. The teams had also met in their open­ing game of the tour­na­ment, and again at the half­way stage, pro­vid­ing the per­fect three-match win­ner-takes-all ef­fect.

RCB won match one by 45 runs but lost match two by 15 runs. From this mo­ment, be­lief in a fi­nal berth crept in for SRH. RCB, on the other hand, were summed up by cap­tain Vi­rat Kholi: “I’m not wor­ried about the bat­ting bit – it’s the bowl­ing we need to get bet­ter at.”

And why worry about bat­ting with Chris Gayle, Kohli, AB de Vil­liers and Shane Wat­son in your top or­der? In the nine matches lead­ing up to the fi­nal, RCB lost only two, claw­ing their way to sec­ond from sec­ond last. All this mostly thanks to Kohli lead­ing from the front, scor­ing a record 973 runs.

In con­trast to the wham bam of ear­lier, Kohli started his fi­nal in­nings off slowly, go­ing at barely a run a ball. But when he did pick up the pace, it was a sight even the purists could en­joy.

Not to be out­done, SRH had their own cap­tain who led from the front. Scor­ing 848 runs in the tour­na­ment, David Warner bul­lied the ball with power and va­ri­ety.

The cap­tains, with De Vil­liers, have rev­o­lu­tionised bat­ting in the age of T20. They play with no fear, favour or mercy.

The beauty of cricket is that it is as pre­dictable as the econ­omy; all we know is it goes through cy­cles and, in this IPL, the resur­gence of the art of bowl­ing was one.

Mustafizur Rah­man is not ex­press, but the Bangladesh in­ter­na­tional and SRH su­per­star took the IPL by the scruff of the neck with a tour­na­ment econ­omy rate of 6.90, claim­ing 16 wick­ets at a strike rate of 21.52. Chris Mor­ris, fast but not ex­press, had the sec­ond-best econ­omy rate of the out-and-out bowlers, with 7.00 and a strike rate of 20.30 and 13 wick­ets.

Both The Fizz and the Mil­lion Dol­lar Man have started to rev­o­lu­tionise bowl­ing. Rahim was a men­ace at the world T20 and a force in the IPL. With in­tel­li­gence and skill, he added a whole host of vari­a­tions, from the off cut­ter to rolling his fingers across the seam.

Maybe the days of the true toe-crusher bowler are nearly back. The Fizz summed it up well when he told Warner: “Bowl­ing, no prob­lem, but speak­ing and bat­ting, a prob­lem.”

At the end an Aus­tralian walked out the sta­dium with the cup.

PHOTO: MANJUNATH KIRAN / AFP PHOTO

DE­BUT WIN Sun­ris­ers Hy­der­abad play­ers cel­e­brate their vic­tory against the Royal Chal­lengers Ban­ga­lore in the fi­nal of the 2016 IPL at the M Chin­naswamy Sta­dium

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