The tenth edition of IPL is nearing the finish line. To quote a certain commentator’s favourite cliche: “It has reached the business end”.
This year’s tournament has seen a lot of close games and also some desperately lopsided ones. The teams which finished on the wrong side of those games are out of contention for the playoff spots. Gujarat Lions tried to give stiff competition to Royal Challengers Bangalore in the race for the wooden spoon but players from RCB were having none of it. They were determined to make sure that they finish the season as champions in this IPL Bizarro world.
Starting as tournament favourites, RCB had to deal with missing a few players and change in nature of the home pitch. Losing KL Rahul to a shoulder injury was a huge loss as he had made a big impact last season with his middle order batting and wicket-keeping. Replacing him with Vishnu Vinod was like trading a Ferrari 458 for a Fiat 500. Kedar Jadhav had to hence step in to keep wickets and also take up the middle order batting slot. Kedar has the ability to influence a game with his power hitting but his technique is an eyesore. Watching him bat is like watching a wrestler let loose on a ballet stage. He showed good promise in the first few games, striking 31 in the opening game and 69 of 37 balls in the next game against Delhi. But, his runs dried off as bowlers worked out ways to get him. He has only scored 255 runs from 12 games but tops the batting chart for a team with world-class batsmen like Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. This underlines the reason for RCB’s position in the league table.
Virat Kohli struck four centuries and scored close to one thousand IPL runs in 2016. Fast forward to 2017 and he is struggling to score runs, dropping catches and making blunders in captaincy. It’s like he has managed to transform himself from Sir Alex Ferguson to David Moyes in one year. He tried everything, including blaming a spectator behind the sightscreen for his dismal batting but he was having one of those seasons where nothing went his or his team’s way.
As the season is winding down, Shane Watson is looking for a place to hide as he has scored less runs and taken fewer wickets than Stuart Binny this season. When the genuine all-rounder of the team pales in comparison to someone who can be best described as an extra in a Bollywood song, there needs no further reasoning for 10 defeats in 13 games.
Of the players who fail to hit the mark, the one who stands out is Chris Gayle. Known for his prolific scoring and brute force, it seemed like he had developed an allergy towards his bat. Even his team sponsors could not find a herbal remedy for his fear of staying at the crease. Although he reached a personal milestone of being the first ever batsman to cross the coveted landmark of 10,000 runs in T20 cricket, he looked a shadow of the man who had plundered 708 runs in a single season, just four years ago. His aggregate from this tournament is a measly 150 from 8 matches. He deserves a statue outside the Chinnaswamy stadium for all his contributions to RCB and the amount of entertainment he has provided all these years. But, based on his performance from this year, the fans would be tempted to hire the sculptor for his statue from Madeira.
It would be least surprising if teams setting target for RCB had toyed with the idea of declaring their innings after crossing 100 runs. It is such a shambles for RCB that it makes Rahul Gandhi’s 2014 election performance look good. Although some bowlers like Sreenath Aravind, Yuzvendra Chahal have shown quality, it is about time the batsmen pull up their socks and prove to the fans that they are worth putting on that jersey in the next season.