KS Bharat played the knock of a lifetime for RCB
Kona Srikar Bharat, or KS Bharat, for simplicity’s sake, can bat. That declaration doesn’t stem from the scintillating match-winning innings he played on a humid Friday evening at the Dubai International Stadium.
He bailed Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) out of the dire straits they were in against the Delhi Capitals in a dead rubber IPL contest.
It wasn’t just an achievement for the wicket-keeper batsman from Andhra as he hit Avesh Khan’s length ball over long on to finish the game. But it was a valuable lesson in holding composure. He had the last laugh when Khan had earlier cheekily grinned at him for his heave and a miss earlier in that over. Though the bowler had impressed before in the game.
Now then, back to reliving the last ball. It was a glorious shot, it was the innings of a lifetime for Bharat who may or may not be part of the RCB’s ranks next season.
KS Bharat remained unbeaten on 78 off 52 balls in his effort against Delhi
It was that shot that brought back memories of a certain Arun Karthik slamming Dan Christian, then a South Australian Redback, in 2011. He saw the Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper’s bat slog sweep him for a six to seal the deal for Bangalore. That six took them to the semis of the now-defunct Champions League.
And like Karthik, KS Bharat’s six will be a YouTube trend for the foreseeable future irrespective of how his IPL career pans out.
Again, this version of KS Bharat can bat. He came into the IPL with a major record against his name. He was the first gloveman to score a triple hundred in the Ranji Trophy in 2015, well before his 52-ball-78 against the Delhi Capitals.
If the IPL happens in real-time, Bharat was pretty much in a hyperbolic time chamber as he waited for his time to pad up and make his mark in the league. He was part of the Delhi Capitals prior to suiting up for Bangalore, but never won a game. Now he has.
February 6, 2015: Andhra was asked to bat first at the CSR Sharma College Ground in Ongole, a city that derives its name from an indigenous breed of oxen.
It was Ranji Trophy season for KS Bharat to remember
Bharat strode out to open the innings with Prasanth Kumar and the duo notched up a solid stand before Kumar was sent back for a well-made 63.
Bharat pressed on and so did Andhra. He scored 304 runs in the team’s 548 run-first innings total. 38 fours and six sixes later, Andhra’s bowlers decimated Goa to chalk up an innings win.
It was a season to remember for KS Bharat as he stacked up 758 runs in the Ranji Trophy at a healthy average of 54.14. The side finished second in Group C in the 2014-15 edition.
KS Bharat has now made his mark in the IPL
KS Bharat’s last-ball six propelled RCB to a six-wicket win over DC
It may not be a Manish Pandey-esque announcement with a sparkling 73-ball-114* in IPL 2009 that made him the first Indian to score a century in the league. It wasn’t Brendon McCullum’s blitzkreig, nor was it an AB de Villiers shellacking. It was just a case of playing a knock to see the side through.
Bharat was batting alongside Glenn Maxwell, RCB’s million-dollar baby who’s had half a dozen fifties in the IPL thus far. Hence, not many would have thought Bharat would be the one to get the Challengers across the line. Maxwell did his part and watched from the non-strikers’ end. He saw KS Bharat, wide-eyed, put all his strength into those forearms and pummeled Khan’s delivery with a sky-kissing maximum.
With that, he’s made his mark. He joins the list of players who held their nerve to see the match through. And the hope, a term that will be used in abundance for the remainder of this piece, would be that he wouldn’t fade into oblivion.
The hope is to see that KS Bharat isn’t a one-match wonder, and definitely not a player who just falls under the “once upon a time in the IPL.” There have been players who have disappeared just as quickly as they have come into the spotlight. Swapnil Asnodkar, Manpreet Gony, Sreevats Goswami, Paul Valthaty, Dinesh Salunkhe and Manoj Tiwary. The list goes on making it easy to conjure up a playing XI of the stars who went into obscurity.
KS Bharat will sleep a content man tonight because tomorrow’s another day. Another day where the achievements of his past will hopefully pave the way for what promises to be a good career. It’s up to him to make something out of it.