Faf, ageless and a teamman to the bone
This year, it’s still early days but Faf has used all his experience – and the lack of a personal baggage of failure with his new franchise – to plunder 259 runs
The high-scoring south Indian derby between Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore lived up to it’s billing on Monday – with the ‘Yellove’ holding their nerves to win the needle contest by eight runs.
There were strong batting performances aplenty, with Devon Conway, Shivam Dube and the Faf du Plessis-Glenn Maxwell partnership enjoying the spotlight, but if there is one performer who never ceases to amaze the fans with his consistency is the ageless ‘Faf.’ It’s a pity that the overseas pros’ best-ever third wicket partnership for RCB eventually failed to take them over the line.
Du Plessis (62 off 33 balls) scored in tandem with Maxwell (76 off 36), scoring his 28th half-century in the bargain in IPL. Ever since he was thrust with the role of captaincy ahead of last season after the franchise’s talismanic leader, Virat Kohli, decided to step aside, the battle-scarred veteran has not allowed the additional responsibility to affect his batting form.
It must not have been easy to shoulder the responsibility of a side with such a huge fan following - but still bearing the cross of not being able to win a single title. The hard-as-nails man from Pretoria brought about a much-needed calmness in the RCB dressing room, scored 468 runs with a highest score of 96 as his team played an enterprising brand of cricket to finish third in the 2022 edition.
This year, it’s still early days but Faf has used all his experience – and the lack of a personal baggage of failure with his new franchise – to plunder 259 runs from only five matches so far with an awesome strike-rate of 172.67. With Kohli stroking the ball so well, the pressure is palpably less on the former South African captain and one can certainly look forward to another prolific season from him with the bat.
Now 39, Faf is the second oldest player in the fray after M.S. Dhoni in this year’s IPL – though he likes to wear the status of elder statesman of the game rather lightly on his shoulders. He prefers the role of a consummate professional instead who would rather justify his price tag (it was a handsome purse of Rs 7 crores in the mega auction last year) – delivering with the bat and patrolling the long off and long on region like a tiger to bring off those marvellous matches.
It doesn’t get any easier though with age but then, it’s Faf’s natural athleticism – along with his punishing fitness routine – which has helped him to stay in top shape. He also makes up for his retirement from international cricket by being a journeyman in the world of franchise cricket throughout the year, having just joined his team on the back of guiding Joburg Super Kings to the semi-finals of the inaugural SA T20 League.
An incident from Monday’s game highlighted the commitment of the veteran again. Faf was being attended to during his batting when he had to lift his shirt to be strapped around for some medical attention – the sight of his chiselled abs creating quite a stir on social media.
Speaking at the presentation, Faf revealed that he had hurt his rib while fielding: ‘’Early on in the match, when I was diving and I just hurt by rib. As the innings went on, I was in discomfort but hopefully, it is not too bad," he said.
It’s the quintessential ‘Faf’ – someone who had been there and done that – but believes in being the teamman. No wonder, he has still retained his price tag in the result-driven, ruthless world of franchise cricket.