Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Bharat throws his hat in the ring for No.3 spot. Bharat hit a six off the final ballto win RCB a thriller.
Bharat hit a six off the final ballto win RCB a thriller.
After playing a career-defining innings against DC, KS Bharat was asked in the presser about the challenge of taking on DC's pace troika – Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada and Avesh Khan. The reply was that of a cricketer who believed he belonged to the big stage. “I love fast bowling to be honest, we played a lot of India As and then I'm also part of the Indian team (set-up) where you get to play with the best bowlers in the country. It wasn't a surprise element to play pace, and I would rather love someone who is giving pace… you can work the ball instead of hitting it hard. I found it interesting to face them and I was enjoying the challenge.”
He showcased a similar confident gait when he was facing Avesh in the final over of the tense contest. Eventually, it came down to five off one ball, with Bharat clubbing a low full toss beyond the boundary rope to power RCB to a memorable win. It was a moment that summed up Bharat's temperament to conquer the biggest opponent of any sportsperson – pressure.
Incidentally, even when Bharat came out to bat, he would have felt like he was in a pressure-cooker situation. In the sweltering heat and humidity of Dubai, he was up against DC's battering ram Nortje. Sometime in 2018, he had faced the aforesaid bowler while playing for India A versus South Africa A in Alur. He had also crunched a couple of eye-catching pulls against the same bowler. But in three years time, Nortje has improved by leaps and bounds and he was also bowling on a track that offered some bounce. Nortje consistently pounded it on a shorter length, peppered with the occasional yorker. At the other end, there was no let up from Avesh either. Bharat had a few heart-stopping moments but he waded through the difficult period.
But such is the depth of DC's attack that each bowler has the ability and nous to take over the mantle of spearheading the attack on his day . Bharat's next challenge was facing the reliable left-arm spinner Axar Patel. Bharat, though, twinned bravado with batting smarts to collect crucial runs off Axar. Initially, he skipped down the track to clear the straight boundary. He then was able to read Axar's mind that he would likely bowl even more quicker through the air. Bharat duly stayed back to sweep the bowler past the short fine leg fielder.
He also had to negotiate Kagiso Rabada and R Ashwin. Just like Nortje, Rabada extracted some lift from the pitch and Bharat took a blow on the gloves. But in what turned out to be another of those chess games, Bharat waited for Rabada to try variations and found the boundary boards a couple of times.
Even the last over wasn't just about that one glory shot which sealed the game. In this IPL, Avesh has found his zone in terms of arrowing in the yorkers. He once again used his tried and tested weapon and also found old ball swing to contain Bharat. The wicketkeeper-batter, however, got into tap-dancing mode to outmanoeuvre the bowler. While facing the last ball, he took more of an off-stump guard. When Avesh was about to release the ball, there was a small front foot trigger before he moved across. The leg-stump was clearly visible and that probably led to Avesh losing the plot as he bowled a wide down the leg-side.
The climax had a thrilling sequel of the previous delivery. This time around, Bharat took more of a middle-stump guard. As Avesh was about to release the ball, one could observe the initial trigger, with Bharat about to clear his front leg. The wicketkeeper-batter perhaps had instinctively mapped out in his mind that he would eye either the long-on or midwicket region. The end result was a six, leading to celebrations in the RCB camp.
Bharat also had his senior partner, Glenn Maxwell, to guide him through the tense moments. “In the last over, we were (Maxwell and Bharat) talking with regards to what are the areas we can access and he was like ‘ok, watch the ball, just put bat on ball' and that was exactly what we were doing. In the last three balls, you know I asked him whether to run or… he was like ‘no, you go ahead and you can finish it off'. So it gave me confidence. I was focused on one ball coming next, rather than thinking (of) too many things. I kept it simple and we pulled it off.”
Bharat's innings also would take some pressure off RCB's think-tank as they were struggling to fill the number three slot in the IPL 2021. At that position, RCB have tried Rajat Patidar, AB de Villiers, Shahbaz Ahmed, Washington Sundar, Dan Christian and Bharat himself but without much success. As RCB prepare to meet KKR in the Eliminator, Bharat stamping his authority at number three would be one of the biggest positives to take from the game.