BANGALORE – Five things we learned from the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League, after Sunrisers Hyderabad beat Royal Challengers Bangalore in Sunday’s final:
1. Warner comes of age
Australia’s David Warner showed a maturity belying his controversy-fuelled past to captain Sunrisers Hyderabad to their maiden IPL title, suggesting he is coming of age as a cricketer. Off-field exploits, including a bar-room punch on England’s Joe Root in 2013, have often captured the headlines but Warner took this season’s IPL by storm with 848 runs. The 29-year-old opener’s leadership skills were praised by Virat Kohli, the captain of losing finalists Royal Challengers Bangalore, who said Warner “has come a long way as a leader in this tournament”.
2. Kohli ready to step up
Indian Test captain Virat Kohli proved he’s also ready to add the job of limited-overs skipper to his international responsibilities. The Royal Challengers Bangalore captain rewrote the record books, scoring 973 runs in 16 matches, as he guided his side to the IPL final. Kohli, 27, relishes the added pressure that comes with being captain, stirring speculation about when he might succeed Mahendra Singh Dhoni as India’s T20 and ODI skipper. Dhoni’s leadership skills also appear to be on the wane — his Rising Pune Supergiants side finished second bottom of the IPL table.
3. It’s still a batsman’s game
If more proof was needed that T20 cricket was a batsman’s game then the ninth edition of the IPL provided it. Records tumbled and sixes rained. Virat Kohli smashed the record for the most runs in a single season by more than 200, finishing on 973, while David Warner blitzed 848. With four centuries and seven fifties, Kohli also became the all-time leading run-scorer in IPL. Kohli also topped the all-time sixes chart in a single season with 38 hits over the fence. He and AB de Villiers recorded the highest ever T20 partnership with 229.
4. Never write off Gayle
The big-hitting West Indian bounced back from being dropped and yet another sexism controversy to prove that he’s still one of short-form cricket’s most destructive batsmen. Gayle warmed the Royal Bangalore Challengers bench for a couple of fixtures after scores of one, nought and seven. He was dropped a second time after scoring only five, and was embroiled in controversy when he told a female journalist he had “a very, very big bat”. He came good at the business end of the season though, notching two half-centuries including a blazing 76 in the final.
5. ‘The Fizz’ bubbles to the top
Bangladesh’s left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman is tipped to be the next big thing in world cricket. Hailing from a small village, the 20-year-old sealed a lucrative IPL contract with Sunrisers Hyderabad. Nicknamed “The Fizz”, Mustafizur grabbed the opportunity with both hands to be declared the emerging player of the tournament with 17 scalps for his title-winning side. Few expect this young star to go flat in coming years.