Hyderabad: Since the inception of Indian Premier League in 2008 to its 12th edition, which will kick-off on March 23, Virat Kohli has grown in stature from a young Delhi boy to one of the modern greats in the current era. He has broken several records at an enviable pace. Being part of Indian World Cup winning team in 2011, smashing centuries at will and leading Team India to new frontiers, Virat will now look to stamp his authority in the IPL.
However, one thing that is missing in his glittering career is the coveted IPL trophy. His seniors like MS Dhoni and peer Rohit Sharma have three trophies each for Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians respectively, Kohli is yet to lay his hands on at least one occasion. Call it the cruelty of the fate or whatever, despite getting so many opportunities, his team fell flat. The Bengaluru franchise came close to winning the title twice having reached the finals in 2011 and 2016. But on both occasions, they were undone by the Hyderabad franchises – Deccan Chargers first and Sunrisers Hyderabad next. Kohli was in phenomenal form scoring close to 1,000 runs (973) in 2016 when he led his team to final in 2016. But he could not take his side across the final hurdle.
Despite boasting of the best in the business in their ranks like AB de Villiers, their bowling unit has failed to fire as a unit. Having left out the bustling Chris Gayle, the onus is on Kohli and De Villiers to script a new chapter in IPL history. In the previous edition, Kohli (530) and de Villiers (480) did the bulk of scoring while others failed. Having let go of South African Quinton de Kock, England’s Chris Woakes, New Zealand’s veteran Brendon McCullum, all-round Corey Anderson and local boy Mandeep Singh, RCB narrowed down their options from problem of plenty. With so many options available, they struggled to find the right combination. They have now added West Indies’ new sensation Shimron Hetmyer and South Africa’s Heinrich Klassen who are known for their hard-hitting skills. Hetmyer has been a big hit during West Indies’ tour of India recently while Klassen has proved his worth as a hard-hitter in the shortest format of the game. The inclusion of the energetic Australia’s all-round Marcus Stoinis augurs well for the team as he can finish the matches single-handedly in the middle or lower down the order. The presence of all-rounders Coli de Grandhomme, Washington Sundar can take care of the batting at the death.
In the bowling department, there is only one bowler in the top 15 of the season. Umesh Yadav, with 20 wickets to his name, showed brilliance in parts. He lacked consistency while Mohammad Siraj failed to rise to the occasion. The Hyderabad speedster played 11 matches and managed 11 wickets. Adding to that, he leaked runs heavily with an economy close to nine runs per over. Tim Southree, de Grandhomme were not featured regularly as the team kept tinkering with the combination.
However, this year presents another opportunity for King Kohli. Having conquered the world, it is time for the 30-year-old Indian skipper to make a big statement before the ODI World Cup.