Despite batsmen-dominant T20 league, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers B’lore bowlers have played crucial roles in getting them to the final
Bangalore: Former India pacer Venkatesh Prasad, who’s also been the bowling coach of the Indian team and the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the past, has always maintained that bowlers are not there just to make up the numbers in T20 cricket. “With the batsmen having no choice but to come at you, it’s a great opportunity to pick up wickets,” has been Prasad’s mantra.
Sunrisers Hyderabad pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar (left) is the Purple Cap holder with 23 wickets in 16 games while RCB spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has bagged 20 wickets in 12 matches. PICS/Afp
We are seeing proof of that even with the much maligned attack that RCB possess. Taken to the cleaners by most teams in the early part of the tournament, the RCB bowlers have been quietly making inroads. They started by defending the big totals put together by their batsmen, then restricted a strong Kolkata line-up, the same outfit who had smashed them at home in Bangalore, when it really mattered.
Later in a virtual quarter-final they kept the young batting might of Delhi to a small score on a Raipur pitch that wasn’t by any means bad for batting, and finally pushed the Suresh Raina-led Gujarat Lions batting down to less than 160 in Qualifier 1.
All said and done and despite the 20 wickets each that leggie Yuzvendra Chahal and all-rounder Shane Watson have bagged, the RCB attack that now regularly includes S Aravind, Chris Jordan and the opening over specialist Stuart Binny, pales in comparison to what Sunrisers Hyderabad possess.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s claim to fame began in Bangalore some years back when he made his India debut in a T20 international against Pakistan. His swinging ways have been curtailed since then but he has added a crucial yard or two of pace. Besides he has gained experience and thus become a better bowler with clever variations.
He had for company, that wily old fox Ashish Nehra, but now has a less craftier but very enthusiastic Barinder Sarin to bowl alongside.
Then, there is Mustafiqur Rahman, any captain’s delight. How David Warner will be hoping that the niggle which forced Rahman out in their last game, is gone. Trent Boult is not a bad replacement but Rahman, who has 16 wickets at a fantastic economy of 6.73 is in a different league. With Purple Cap holder Kumar picking up 23, going at 7.50 an over, this despite bowling in the Powerplay and the death, you know that bowling does play its part in this format too.
Let’s wait and see which set of bowlers has the last laugh.
SRH pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s economy rate in the ongoing IPL edition
Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Sunrisers Hyderabad: Key battles
Kohli vs Warner
They both like getting under the skins of their opponents and have also been involved in several bust-ups in the past. The IPL final is another big stage for the two temperamental cricketers to go one-up against each other. Taking the extra responsibility of leading their sides will bring out the best in Virat Kohli and David Warner. The fans will be in for a treat today, considering Kohli and Warner’s blistering form in the tournament.
Bhuvi vs Watson
The battle for the Purple Cap (highest wicket-taker of the tournament) is sure to go down to the wire. While Sunrisers Hyderabad’s medium pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has reinvented himself to claim 23 wickets, Royal Challengers Bangalore pacer Shane Watson is three wickets away from the India pacer. Watson’s teammate and spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (20) is also closing-in on Bhuvneshwar.
Yuvraj vs Gayle
In the battle of the left-handers, RCB’s Chris Gayle and SRH’s Yuvraj Singh are the most flamboyant performers. Coming into the tournament after an injury lay-off, Yuvraj hasn’t looked quite convincing in the nine innings that he has played so far. He has, however, hit form at the right time with his fluent 44 vs KKR in the Eliminator. Gayle, meanwhile, has regained his place in the playing XI with some strong performances after being dropped initially.
ABD vs Mustafizur
If there is a bowler who has troubled AB de Villiers in IPL-9, it has to be Mustafizur Rahman. The SRH pacer has been difficult to pick for RCB batsman. In their opening match, Mustafizur conceded just two runs off five balls and also claimed the South African’s wicket. In their return clash, the Bangladeshi conceded just five runs off seven balls he bowled to De Villiers in his 32-ball 47. However, Mustafizur’s fitness remains the biggest concern.
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