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When Shane Watson fell at 164 in the 16th over, a silence fell upon the 30,000 odd people who thronged the Chinnaswamy Stadium at Bengaluru that day. Could the tail for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) score 44 in the last 3 overs? Hyderabad had scored over 50 in their last three overs but we didn’t have their fire power. At one stage it had seemed that even 208 the target set by the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) could be chased down. Now it appeared inevitable that RCB would fail in their bid to win the coveted Indian Premier League (IPL). It was not to be third time lucky for them having lost earlier finals in 2009 and 2011.

Though we the loyal fans of RCB were totally gutted by the loss on May 29, we must admit that we were outplayed on that day. Also if you see the record all though this IPL, SRH were far more consistent than we were. Each team plays 14 matches and the top four go into the play offs. Indeed it speaks volumes for our grit and Kohli’s captaincy that we overcame a poor first half to reach where we did. At one time we were languishing at No 7 out of the 8 teams.

In the first half of the tournament our batsmen shone while our bowlers struggled. In spite of our batsmen putting up huge totals, our bowlers were not able to defend them. To our credit, we became more balanced in the second half when the bowlers showed some improvement. Without doubt, our batting was the only reason how we made it to the coveted No 2 slot. This followed a net run rate far in excess of the others. There are some moments in the tournament which are remembered for the impact they had. Our win over King XI Punjab by just 1 run is one such. This got us two more crucial points. The results show we won 9 out of the 15 matches we played. We won the first then lost 2, won one more and lost 3 in a row and then the change happened. We won an astonishing 7 games in a row but sadly we faltered in the crucial last step and  lost the finals.

So who did well and who did not? Here are my ratings of the important RCB players. For easy reference their batting and bowling performances are here. 

Virat Kohli, 9/10. No praise is too high for Virat who led from the front, scoring 973 runs with 4 centuries, averaging 81 with a strike rate of 152! Figures never seen before in a single season of IPL. His positivism spread among the players.  I feel bad that we could not win the tournament for him, if not for anything else.  As a captain he was frightfully unlucky with the toss, which was beyond his control. I wish he had played Sarfaraz and Rahul  instead of Baby and Jadhav right through and not dropped Chahal after the first few matches.

A B deVilliers: 8/10. Be it fielding or batting (687 runs with a strike rate of 168) the South African was the star of the show. Not only the runs he scored but the way he got them made a huge difference to our team. A game that was virtually lost was won back by him, assisted ably by Iqbal Abdulla.

K L Rahul: 6/10, a few lapses behind the stumps were only to be expected when you don’t have a full time wicket keeper. Overall he did reasonably well and apart from that slog in the finals, he played extremely well as a front line batsman. He showed he was not only a Test batsman but was capable of taking the attack to the opposition in T20 cricket.

Shane Watson: 4/10 Sure, he got 20 wickets in 16 matches ( but with an economy rate of 8.58 ) but as the teams’s senior pro ( costs $ 1.4 million) he would, I believe, be the first to admit it was a season when he was inconsistent. As one who had been part of the IPL winning team (Rajasthan Royals) and the World Cup ( for Australia), he failed where it mattered the most. 24 runs in one over plundered by Pathan in an earlier match showed the signs of things to come. In the crucial finals, his giving away 24 runs in the last over (0/61 in 4 overs) made the difference between a target of 208 and 184. His batting was patchy and part from a few sixers in one match he wasn’t the power hitter he was supposed to be with only 179 runs in 16 matches. He scored just 11 in the finals, when he was the last of the stars the team depended on.

Yuzvendra Chahal: 7/10, typified Play Bold. This leggie was the only one to get wickets ( 21 in 13 matches with an economy of 8.15) consistently and important wickets at that. Playing in Bangalore and getting the figures he did speaks volumes for his bowling skills and temperament. Should have played in all the matches.

Chris Gayle: 5/10, the first few matches were highly forgettable for the big Jamaican who ended up scoring 227 in 10 games. Came into his own towards the end of the season and played an important innings of 75 in the finals. Also got a few wickets with his off spin but apart from a few occasions continued to be a liability as a fielder being best only in the slips.

Chris Jordan: 5/10, started badly which was understandable as he flew in from England with no games since the World Cup. His figures improved as he settled down but we expected much more from this “bowling at the death specialist.” He got 11 wickets in 9 matches but with an economy of over 9. Muztafizur ‘The Fizz’ Rahma, his opponent in SRH at age 20 was far superior to him in sheer bowling skills despite his relative inexperience.

Varun Aaaron, 2/10, couldn’t get a grip of T20 format and bowled like  a Test fast bowler getting hammered in every match. Average fielding made him a liability more than an asset.

Stuart Binny, Srinath Arvind, and Iqbal Abdulla all at 5/10 in my view did well in patches. Binny should have bowled more and Arvind must improve his catching.

This was an interesting IPL with the eight teams more balanced than before and we saw some very close finishes. As die hard RCB fans, let’s hope we get to do better next year!!

 

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