BENGALURU: Virat Kohli and David Warner have dominated with the bat through this IPL season. They currently occupy the top rung in the run-getters’ chart. Both have also been exemplary leaders.
As Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bang alore host Sunrisers Hyderabad for the title clash at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Sunday, it will be their form that is likely to govern the contest.
Though both chase their first IPL title, the stakes are particularly huge for RCB, the only major team in the league to have never won. Their campaign threatened to derail this time as well before Kohli inspired their fightback.
The Kohli-Warner past will add spice to the contest. Over the years, they have had their spats. Both are aggressive, although in this IPL, both have used this in a positive manner, barring an outburst here and there. While animated, they haven’t let the anger bubble over.
Their performances have been pivotal in rallying their sides through a long and tough campaign. Kohli’s phenomenal run with the bat has turned the tide for RCB after a few losses due to the bowling unit not contributing.
Kohli’s record four hundreds and six half-centuries, AB de Villiers’ fine run and their crucial partnerships made up for the bowling frailties. And that easing of pressure has also helped the bowlers to find their feet later.
Warner, 29, has played a similar role for Sunrisers. Although the pace attack has fired away, the other batsmen were tentative at the start, and it was the Australia opener who got them past the line initially. His unbeaten 93 against Gujarat Lions in Qualifier 2 was a great example of Warner not giving up even when all seemed lost.
“As a captain or leader, you try to execute things that you ask of your teammates first on the field,” said Kohli ahead of the final.
“We (Warner and Kohli) do think on similar lines. Even in the field, if we want someone to be their 120 per cent or whether it’s him wanting to contribute for the team’s cause and getting people together and wanting them to be their best.”
T he RCB bowling, considered weak, has been lethal in the latter stages. Sunrisers rode on Warner’s help initially, but had a strong bowling unit in Ashish Nehra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mustafizur Rehman. With Nehra out i njured, and Mustafizur nursing a niggle, the team looks a bit under pressure on a good batting surface. Left-arm pacers, Barinder Sran and Trent Boult, have come in and it will be vital how the Sunrisers bowlers perform. At the other end, Shane Watson and Sreenath Aravind have lifted the side.
But, on Sunday, it will be a contest of the captains.