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Is It Vivo's IPL Or Virat's IPL?
With the focus shifted from World Cup T20 with the Caribbean crowned as World T20 Champions, a perfect platform was laid for Vivo IPL tournament 9th Edition of IPL. But all didn’t start well enough for the organizers with PepsiCo withdrawing themselves from title sponsorship, terminating a five year deal which was supposed to run till 2017. Furthermore, RM Lodha Committee suspended the owners of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) for a period of 2 years on the charges of spot fixing and betting during 2013 IPL season. Adding fuel to the fire, the country was experiencing a severe drought particularly Maharashtra in which 3 venues (Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur) were supposed to host a total of 20 matches ,which is believed to be one of the worst droughts in 100 years. A petition was filed and the Supreme Court ordered the matches on the aforementioned venues to be moved out of Maharashtra.
The venues of the matches were reorganized, but there were a few question marks on the success of the tournament. Gujarat Lions (GL) and Rising Pune SuperGiants (RPS) were formed replacing CSK and RR. Chinese smartphone manufacturer “Vivo Electronics” was awarded the title sponsorship for the next two years. This was also the First IPL season to use LED stumps. Amidst all the crisis the opening Ceremony was held on 8th of April, with Performances featuring stars like Major Lazer, Honey Singh and Dwayne bravo performing the famous “Champions Dance”.
With the tournament already undergoing a bumpy ride, the 1st match was against 2015 Champions Mumbai Indians (MI) and the newbies RPS and the Dhoni led side emerged the comfortable winners. By the mid-way of the tournament, GL were tearing away from the pack, winning 6 out of 7 matches, Delhi Daredevils (DD) placed 2nd with 5 wins, KKR (Kolkata Knight Riders) and SRH (Sun Risers Hyderabad) with 4 wins, MI won 3 placed 5th. RPS, KXIP (Kings XI Punjab) and RCB (Royal Challengers Bangalore) were lurching in danger zone winning just 2 matches out of their quota of 7 needing a serious turnaround in their fortunes to keep their qualification hopes alive.
The first six matches of the season recorded an average Television Viewership Rating (TVR) of 3.50, significantly less than the average TVR of 4.50 for the first week of 2015 IPL season. According to a report in Economic times, the season's opening matches at Delhi, Mohali and Kolkata had an average attendance of 60% each, while the first game at Hyderabad had a 50% crowd turnout. The low attendance figures were attributed to "an overdose of Twenty20 cricket and scorching heat". The Tournament was lacking enthusiasm. If IPL 2016 was a Indian movie, it was missing heroism. Cometh the hour cometh the man, Virat Kohli. Not that he was doing bad by the mid-way of the tournament , he had already scored 433 runs in 7 matches , averaging 72.2, which includes 40 boundaries and 9 maximums at a strike rate of 137 with 4 fifties and a hundred against GL which raina’s team had won. But the team was not doing well, particularly the bowling department which was badly missing Australian Fast bowler Starc , famous for his toe crushing , in swinging Yorkers. RCB historically has been a slow starting team, which gains momentum during the end of Season who more often than not just miss the qualification.
Kohli an aggressive captain, one of the finest batsman, an extremely good fielder, doesn’t want the team to be branded as chokers. The turnaround for the team started against match against RPS where the team had to chase an imposing target of 192. Virat single handedly took the team to victory scoring 108 runs in just 58 balls which included 8 boundaries and 7 sixes. He was named MoM (Man of the Match) and during the presentation he quoted “I was pretty determined tonight, last time in Hyderabad we had to chase down 192 and we were pumped up. Today I was motivated to go that extra mile and we needed to win six out of seven to qualify. I'm just happy we could pull that one off”.
Believe it or not, RCB managed to win 6 out of 7 matches, out of which RCB Captain had managed 3 hundreds and 2 fifties. In the Second half of the tournament, he had scored 486 runs at an impressive strike rate of 169, in which he managed 38 boundaries and 27 sixes. He had improved his strike rate, and clearly managed to hit more sixes, which had made him leading player for the number of sixes a player had hit. The team which was reeling in the bottom, with the help of captain’s wits and power hitting had raised their game and they not only managed to qualify through play-offs but were placed 2nd in the tournament .Huge credit has to go to the captain who has led the team from the front.The Highlight has to be match where Virat played second fiddle to AB, both together formed a record partnership 229 runs, in turn the team had amassed a total of 248, which was the second highest total for any team in IPL history where AB managed to hit 129 runs and Virat helped himself to 109 runs.
He had scored a whopping 919 runs at an impressive average of 91.9, and at a strike rate of 152.40, bettering previous record of 732 runs which was held by both Gayle (RCB) and Mike Hussey (CSK). Second Highest run getter is none other than his fellow mate AB de villiers who managed 682 runs at an avg of 57 and at a strike rate of 170. Bearing the fact that virat still has a match to go ,apart from the rare failure in the qualifiers, a target of 1000 runs can be achieved. Scoring 1000 runs for the calendar year is itself an achievement in the sports of cricket and this man is trying to reach the landmark in just a single tournament. He has already scored 1500 runs in T20 matches for the year 2016 with just half year passed. To RCB’s success apart from captain has been AB de Villiers, man who needs no introduction, who has come up with important knocks especially the knock in the qualifiers match against GL, Watson whose primary skill being batting, shone with ball in his hand, amply aided by chahal, a canny leg spinner. Not to forget the important knocks by a surprise package KL Rahul , who has been drafted into the playing XI as a replacement to the then injured wicketkeeper Jadhav , has done brilliantly with the bat scoring 386 runs , at an average of 55 and strike rate 147 apart from doing the job of keeping wickets.
The force is with RCB, though their Achilles heel has been their bowling, but they have shaken off their bad start and have emerged to be team to beat. They have positioned themselves nicely,reaching finals for the 3rd time in the history of IPL. He has raised the bar of batsmanship standards to a whole new level. Virat has already showed his prowess in the International arena in Indian Colors, but this IPL season has to be among the Top knock he has played in any color, mentioning Kohli is in red-hot form is an understatement. This achievement is another small feather to his already huge Cap. Virat will be more than ever motivated to win the IPL cup , if he manages to reach 4 figure mark , it would be an icing on the cake.
If you liked Chandrasekaran's article , please have a look at this one. A must read for football fans!