I’m sure many would agree when I observe that if Virat Kohli had to fail in any game, just as well he did on a day when AB de Villiers was alive and awake.
I frankly am not a great fan or follower of the Indian Premier League. For one, it is insanely long and one tends to lose sight of how many matches have been played, who is winning, which team was the one to watch, or even if everything going on was hunky dory.
Then you come across a season like the one that Kohli is having and you do tend to make time to sit back and stare, shake your head in admiration and disbelief.
So it seemed on Tuesday, when Royal Challengers Bangalore faced a rather disappointing target set by Gujarat Lions. It surely would be a walk in the park. Just as well I stuck around to see a couple of overs in the RCB innings.
I also don’t think much of Dhawal Kulkarni as a bowler, so it was quite the surprise to see him run through the top-order which included Chris Gayle, Kohli and KL Rahul!
Quite a delight to see Gayle hopping. He, with his innuendoes and charming overtures, has become quite the darling of the media, not to mention the Big Bash League.
In the IPL, he has barely been able to straighten his ‘big bat’ frequently enough to be a threat, especially when the balls were short. So the big bat was bent, and the helmet had a dent, before Henry could say “Blush”. Then the bails lit up. It was fun, pure and simple.
Sadly for GL though, they did have a brain freeze after they went through the top and middle-order. Or maybe they just ran out of bowlers. Or ideas.
Iqbal Abdulla tried his best to get out, but GL seemed to have given up the ghost under the sustained attack from De Villiers from the other end.
They were presumptive in their approach, to think that since six had got out, the rest would follow. It needed a little inspiration, which didn’t come. But that was the fun game, since the Q1 still leaves GL alive, to match wits with Sunrisers Hyderabad, who were handed a win on the platter by Gautam Gambhir and Kolkata Knight Riders.
Now, Gambhir can be quite a character. Sadly, the characterisation is far from the exuberance of a Kohli or the aggressive never-say- die attitude of a David Warner.
Gambhir’s biggest character trait is truculence. A glowering expression and aggressive demeanour which is great when we’re playing Shahid Afridi and Pakistan. But not necessarily a great thing when leading a side.
Also, one wonders where and how the think-tank works in the KKR camp. After all, in Jacques Kallis and Wasim Akram, they have two of the best cricketing brains in the business. Or maybe, being a great cricketer doesn’t necessarily translate into being a great captain or coach.
It was a great plan to open the bowling with Yusuf Pathan, and it worked for all of the power play as SRH were quite as sea, which is a major achievement, given the small ground at Ferozshah Kotla and Warner’s penchant of hitting everything out of the ground on the leg-side. Even Morne Morkel was fine.
At the same time, surely they weren’t expecting the likes of Warner and Yuvraj Singh both to fail? Yuvi didn’t, but KKR were still looking at a moderate chase.
Till the last over, when a target of around 150 became 162. Guess Kallis and Akram’s instinct as fast bowlers kicked in as Morkel was given the last over. Maybe they never expected Bipul Sharma to whack him for two sixes.
Maybe they forgot about the small ground and the new bats.
Or maybe, Gambhir did it his own glowering way. Which continued in the chase. Gambhir got Colin Munro run-out, snarled at Manish Pandey, then got out himself and sat and scowled at everyone as KKR just folded.
Maybe they thought even 162 would just come. But they hadn’t given enough respect to a rejuvenated Bhuvneshwar Kumar, or the so-far- impeccable Mustafizur Rahman.
One wonders if the cheerleaders are paid by the day.
Otherwise, can’t quite understand the tears, barring the loss of two potential paydays. So as things stand, now we have the Orange War, with SRH and GL to be engaged in a sudden-death, as RCB sit back and relax.
Would be quite interesting to see how things pan out.
The scheduling is quite ludicrous, since GL would have to haul themselves all the way up to Delhi from Bengaluru, only to haul themselves right back, if they win.
On the other hand, RCB are enjoying a virtual paid holiday in the salubrious weather at home. But then, that’s the fun of winning Q1.
The small grounds left in the fray, in Kotla and the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, promise a lot of willow power as well. Could be quite intriguing, this whole thing. I may even watch.