Virat Kohli was finally back amongst the runs. In the Thursday night match versus the Rajasthan Royals, Kohli partnered Devdutt Padikkal in an unbeaten 181/0 to rout the Rajasthan Royals. The knock took the RCB captain past the 6,000 runs mark in the IPL, the highest ever by any player. Kohli’s 47-ball knock accounted for three 6s and six 4s at a strike rate of 153.18. Kohli is 32-years of age. It has taken him 13 IPLs, and a little more, to achieve the 6K milestone. Forty 50s, five centuries. If Kohli continues to play till age 40, let us presume, he has eight-nine IPLs to add another 4000 runs to top the 10,000 target. His strike rate has been about 452.83 runs per IPL so far. Going forward, too he needs to clock 457.14 runs per IPL to hit the higher peak. Knowing Kohli’s focus, commitment and determination, it is well within the realm of the possible. Kohli is one of the finest batsmen of our times: a 10,000 record will be one of the best-est achievements of his T20 supremacy.
In the same vein, big partnerships are not new to Kohli. The 181 for the first wicket on Thursday was nowhere his biggest. The Indian skipper has, if memory serves me right, been involved in three of the top four top partnerships in the history of the IPL. He along with AB de Villiers added 229 runs for the second wicket against Gujarat Lions in an IPL 2016 game. Both of them smashed hundreds in that clash. RCB posted a total of 248/3 with Virat contributing 109 runs off 55 balls. The same duo added 215 runs for the second wicket against Mumbai Indians earlier in an IPL 2015 fixture. In that match, AB de Villiers slammed 133 runs in only 59 balls including 19 fours and four 6s. Virat played a vital knock of 82 runs off 50 balls. Way back in IPL 12, Virat shared a partnership of 204 runs for the second wicket along with Chris Gayle against the Delhi side. Gayle smacked 128 runs in 62 balls, while Virat scored 73 runs off 53 balls. Virat Kohli is good alone, but great together!
Devdutt Padikkal scored 473 runs in 15 matches for Royal Challengers Bangalore in his debut IPL season last year and won the prestigious Emerging Player Award. So, much was expected of him. This year, however, he still hadn’t quite got into his rhythm till he exploded on Thursday night and massacred the poor Royals. The 101 in 52 balls at an incredible strike rate of 194.23 with six 6s and 11 fours. Expect more from him. He’s got the guts, he’s got the gumption.
The best (and most unexpected) innings of the past week by far, however, was that of the highly under-rated Australian Pat Cummins, playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). That too as a batsman. Cummins produced a super-heroic effort in the Indian Premier League clash with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on Wednesday. Chasing a stiff, and seemingly insurmountable 221, especially when KKR team had half folded up at 31/5 and even Andre Russell had departed at 112/6, the Australian pacer went on to play a sublime unbeaten knock of 66 from 34 balls and turned a seemingly listless match into a nail-biting contest. Batting at an amazing strike rate of 194.12, Cummins smashed four boundaries and six lofted maximums, which also included an improbable 30-run over from Sam Curran.
Cummins brilliant knock gets the Australian to join a rare list of players who fetched 30 or more runs in a single over. Chris Gayle tops this chart with 36 runs from six deliveries, while Raina stands second with 32, while Virender Sehwag, Shaun Marsh and Rahul Tewatia all scored 30 runs each too. But in the case of Pat Cummins it was really the unexpectedness of his assault that left MS Dhoni and his men gasping. What a master-class … just that Cummins ran short of partners at the other end or the final result could well have been different!
The other mesmerising performance this week came from Faf du Plessis, a majestic and fluent 95 not out. The foundation of a big score was laid by CSK’s opening pair with Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf smashing 115 off the first 77 deliveries. South African du Plessis, who hit nine 4s and four 6s, also shared a 50-run partnership with Moeen Ali (25 off 12 balls) as CSK reached 155/1 after the end of 16 overs. du Plessis hit three consecutive fours off Andre Russell in the 19th over and then followed it up with two massive sixes off Cummins in the last over. In my view it was one of the most flawless knocks of the current edition of the League. The sizzle is finally back in the IPL.
RCB’s Harshal Patel was on 12 wickets, and led the Purple Cap race with a big margin as on Thursday night. Patel took as many as three wickets against RR and ended with figures of 4-0-47-3 with the wickets of Chris Morris, Riyan Parag and Chetan Sakariya. Harshal earlier returned with figures of 5 for 26 against Mumbai Indians, the first-ever bowler to ever do so against the last year champions. For the Haryana bowler who plays IPL for RCB, his previous best has been a 17 wickets haul in 2015. Patel had a most impressive 2019-20 domestic season, with 52 wickets and 292 runs in the first-class Ranji Trophy for his state Haryana, to go with 374 runs and 19 wickets in the T20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. It is now his IPL finally.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni meanwhile played his 200th game for Chennai Super Kings as skipper, an IPL record. The 39-year-old, who has led CSK to three IPL titles, is at the eighth spot in the list of leading run-getters in IPL, with 4,632 runs. The current IPL so far has been slow for the ageing superstar … 35 runs in four outings, with a highest of 18. Hope he picks up some meaningful scores … the helicopter needs to surely fly some quick sorties!
Dr. Sandeep Goyal loves the game of cricket. But the maths of the game fascinates him.