Saturday, April 20, 2024

The birth of a new champion

Officials of Kolkata Knight Riders were seen almost celebrating when they bought Sakib al Hasan at the Indian Premier League auction last year, as if they knew this lad would turn their luck around in winning the cash-rich tournament.
Into the second season, Sakib, the Bangladeshi icon and world number one all-rounder, reversed his fate of never winning a league, along with owner Shah Rukh Khan’s, when he
played a vital role in KKR’s fabulous win over Chennai Super Kings in the final of the IPL on Sunday.
Sakib bowled a tight last over, giving away only eight runs and picking up a wicket, that restricted CSK to under 200, a morale booster for KKR when they came on to bat.
An eight-run over at that stage on a dead pitch with the opponents having eight wickets in hand was almost like bowling a three-run over.
But it was not the end of his vital contribution. He came onto the crease with KKR still needing 27 runs from 17 balls, which in a normal situation is easily gettable, but always difficult in the final of a long, gruelling tournament.
Things became tougher when his partner at the non-striking end Jacques Kallis suffered a muscle cramp and was eventually out to Ben Hilfenhaus, easily the best Chennai bowler in the game, with 16 runs still needed.
Hilfenhaus earlier tested Sakib with a shoulder-high short ball and when his attempted yorker turned into a high full-toss, fortune this time favoured the brave Bangladeshi.
He took two runs off the no-ball and played the shot of the match in the next ball, a fearless scoop down the fine-leg, which brought the equation down to nine off the last six balls.
Manoj Tiwary struck back-to-back boundaries to seal the deal, triggering a wild celebration where Sakib (11 from seven balls) was also a key figure.
It gave birth to a new champion, who had reached the summit as an individual long ago, but he rarely tasted the sweet victory of any league or cup with a team.
Another Bangladeshi icon Mashrafee bin Murtaza was a player of this same franchise three years ago, when he brought nothing but a few stories for his fans back home from the tournament.
Sakib was involved in one of such stories when he could not be identified by Ishant Sharma, then the pace spearhead of KKR.
During a chat Ishant asked Mashrafee about the promising cricketers of Bangladesh and upon hearing Sakib’s name, Ishant had a surprised look on his face and replied by saying, who is this Sakib?
Three years have passed and KKR have won their first title and ironically it’s Sakib celebrating with the team-mates while Ishant is nowhere near the scene.
Ishant is the most successful bowler for KKR, 25 wickets from 31 matches in three seasons, while many praised the arrival of West Indian Sunil Narine this season, 24 wickets in 15 matches, saying he is a magician with the ball.
Sakib, completing two seasons with the side, could have easily topped the bowling charts by far if he had been a regular member of the playing 11. The left-arm spinner featured in only 15 matches in the span of two years and is already the third best KKR bowler with 23 wickets.
It’s not just Ishant, but the whole India is now aware of who Sakib al Hasan is and what he is capable of. After all he is also a part of the new IPL champions.

-With New Age input

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