It wasn’t the vintage Virat Kohli on show on Thursday night at the Wankhede stadium, but the signature focus, intent and hunger to see his team through was on display.
After a prolonged dry run with the willow, the former Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper shrugged off the rustiness with an assured 54-ball 73 (8×4, 2×6), an innings which helped RCB get past Gujarat Titans by eight wickets to stay alive in the competition.
With the win Faf du Plessis’ men occupy the fourth place on the points table and will need Mumbai Indians to beat Delhi Capitals on Saturday to advance to the playoffs. While the team management would be relieved to see Kohli back among runs, the opener wore his heart on his sleeve as he ticked a few boxes.
Speaking at the post-match presentation, Kohli said the innings was for the team. “I was disappointed that I haven’t done much for my team and that bothers me, not the stats. This was a game where I was able to create an impact and that puts us in a good position.”
Kohli added that early in his innings he knew he was in a good space. “I think with the first shot I played off (Mohd) Shami I felt like that (back to be his old self). It was a length ball and I could back myself and hit it over his head. I just felt like I could hit length balls over bowlers’ head for four and six. That’s when I know I am in a good head space because then I am not bothered about the ball pitched in the right area.”
RCB’s team director Mike Hesson pointed to Kohli’s hard work at the nets as the reason for his fine knock. “The fact that he was working hard in the nets and trying to find rhythm away from the contests allowed him to keep that confidence up,” said the New Zealander.
Praising Kohli for his knock, Hesson, who has throughout backed the opener to come good, added, “I am absolutely delighted. Just shows like in any team if you get the top-order firing and have a player like Virat, then it makes the rest of the chase a lot easier.”