An IPL of records
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.
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