IPL 2024 outlines impact greater than volume as Orange Cap's relevance diminishes | Crickit
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IPL 2024 outlines impact greater than volume as Orange Cap's relevance diminishes

Apr 22, 2024 01:10 PM IST

Despite Orange Cap holder Virat Kohli consistency with run-scoring, RCB remain at the bottom of the table, slumping to their 6th straight loss in on Sunday

Virat Kohli is the holder of the Orange Cap in IPL 2024, as he has been since the first week of a competition that is exactly one month old. The former India skipper has amassed 379 runs at an average of 63.16 and a strike-rate of 150.39, perfectly acceptable numbers that indicate both supreme consistency and a healthy rate of scoring. Yet, Royal Challengers Bengaluru are firmly rooted to the bottom of the table, slumping to their sixth straight loss on Sunday and having won just one of eight matches this season.

Royal Challengers Bengaluru's Virat Kohli looks on during the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bengaluru (AFP)
Royal Challengers Bengaluru's Virat Kohli looks on during the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bengaluru (AFP)

There are two ways of looking at this crazy scenario – either that Kohli has primarily been ploughing a lone furrow, let down by the batting group around him, or that he hasn’t managed to make the same kind of impact like those below him in the batting chart.

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RCB have two other batters with more than 200 runs – Faf du Plessis, the captain, is perched 239 (average 29.87, strike-rate 152.22) and Dinesh Karthik, with 251 (62.75, 196.09). Of the 12 ahead of him in the top run-getters, only three boast a better strike-rate than Karthik; tellingly, all three belong to the franchise that has set the tournament alight, with three of the four highest totals this season, all in excess of 250.

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At just past the halfway stage of league action, Travis Head (324 runs) has the highest strike-rate of those with at least 200 runs, a staggering 216. His opening partner at Sunrisers Hyderabad, the less celebrated Abhishek Sharma (257), is scoring only marginally – very, very marginally – slower at 215.96 and Heinrich Klaasen (268), the South African destroyer, has blasted 198.51 runs for every 100 deliveries faced. Is it any surprise then that SRH are third on the table, with five wins from seven games? Actually, it is. One would have thought with this kind of firepower in the top four, they would occupy a higher slot, but that’s another matter altogether.

Coming back to the Orange Cap. When it was introduced in 2008 – the Purple Cap is its bowling equivalent, bestowed on the leading wicket-taker – it didn’t raise too many eyebrows. Twenty20 cricket was in its nascent stages, the IPL was India’s first sustained tryst with the newest format to sweep the cricketing stratosphere. Teams and individuals were finding their feet, and therefore most runs in an edition that brought with it the Orange Cap didn’t seem the worst bargain.

Over the last 17 years, though, the face of the 20-over game has changed beyond recognition. Today, it is less about volume and more about impact. Yes, runs still hold a lot of meaning, but they aren’t the be-all and the end-all. Take the Mumbai Indians vs Delhi Capitals game at the Wankhede earlier this month, for instance. Rohit Sharma (49), Ishan Kishan (42) and Tim David (45) all scored more runs, and at excellent strike-rates, but the game-changer was Romario Shepherd, who destroyed Anrich Nortje in a final over that yielded 32. Shepherd finished on 39 not out, off 10 balls. How can that be any less than the three batters who got into the 40s?

Of the top ten run-makers this season, only three batters have scored slower than Kohli – fourth-placed Shubman Gill (146.79), the Gujarat Titans leader, his compatriot Sai Sudharsan (122.27) and Lucknow Super Giants captain KL Rahul (143). LSG are currently fifth, GT sixth. Both teams have been reasonably well served by the batters that have followed these openers, RCB by and large haven’t. Kohli will gladly trade the Orange Cap for greater, more incisive and decisive support from the batters below him, because more than anyone else, he knows that scoring the most runs means nothing, given that the franchise he led for a decade is languishing at the bottom of the pack and is still searching for its first title in its 17th year of existence.

Arun Dhumal, the chairman of the IPL Governing Council, has agreed to a relook at the Impact Player rule at the end of the season, on the back of Indian captain Rohit’s disclosure that he isn’t a big fan of this innovation. Dhumal and his team would also do well to shift the goalposts so far as the Orange Cap situation is concerned. A thoughtful amalgam of volume and impact will be a more realistic assessment of the value of a batter’s contributions, so why not combine average and strike-rate while bestowing the Orange Cap? As things stand, that would give Kohli a figure of 213.55, Head 270 and third-highest scorer Riyan Parag 225.02. Isn’t that a more realistic portrayal of the impact each has had this season?

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Stay updated with the latest Cricket News, IPL Final Live IPL Points Table match highlights, and more. Explore a comprehensive Cricket Schedule, track the race for the Purple Cap and IPL Orange Cap in IPL 2024, check Virat Kohli performance and stay ahead with all the cricket-related updates on the Hindustan Times website and app.
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