Virat Kohli said he “loved” that Royal Challengers Bangalore had to win four out of four matches to quality for the playoffs. That was two weeks ago, when his team was placed sixth and he had recorded his first single-digit score of the season. Since then the lowest Kohli has been dismissed for is 109 and Royal Challengers have racked up the back-to-back wins they needed. Their six-wicket dismantling of Delhi Daredevils on Sunday took them up to second place on the points table, a qualifier at home and a second shot at a place in the IPL final.
Raipur provided the toughest batting conditions yet for Royal Challengers this season. The pitch had extra bounce, and the boundaries were long enough that top edges and mis-hits didn’t simply skip away. Their bowlers made use of both and strangled Daredevils to 138 for 8. That Quinton de Kock contributed 60 of those runs exemplifies the lack of application from the rest of the Daredevils batsmen.
Kohli understood hitting through the line wasn’t prudent. When he had tried to do so in the sixth over, a good length ball from Chris Morris had straightened, kissed the edge and fell short of Karun Nair at first slip. Royal Challengers had already lost Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers. Losing the man who has averaged nearly 100 in T20 cricket in 2016 too could have been catastrophic.
Kohli, though, refused to give his wicket away. He concentrated on the singles and twos and barring a pristine on-drive that totally disrespected a good length ball on middle stump and an inside edge to fine leg, the rest of his six fours came off deliveries that were short, down leg or overpitched. He struck the winning runs with 11 balls to spare and his unbeaten 45-ball 54 propelled his average above 100 in 2016.EditorDesk | Published On:May 23, 2016