Kings XI Punjab know what’s coming their way. It’s not the presence of Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers or Shane Watson, all fearsome strikers of the ball. It’s the blistering form of Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli, who has been a one-man army.
In the World Twenty20, Kohli was the reason for India making the semifinal, and in the IPL, he has once again carried the hopes of the team, as the other batsmen along with the bowlers have failed to make an impact.
Three wins from eight matches doesn’t justify the form Kohli is in, but there are factors that are pulling the team down. In the match against Pune Supergiants, RCB finished on the winning side thanks to Kohli’s second ton of the league, but the fielding and bowling left much to be desired.
The team missed numerous chances and the fielding was pedestrian. Kohli took his frustration out with the bat, helping himself to triple figures in a winning cause.
In 2016, Kohli has seven fifties in T20Is for India, while in the IPL he has two centuries and four fifties so far. He has fond memories of the PCA stadium, as on March 27, he guided India to a win against Australia to ensure a knockout berth in the WT20.
Chasing 192 against Pune on Saturday, Kohli was cautious at the start before opening up to play some of his trademark shots.
Kings XI know this well and Sandeep Sharma, their best bowler, said he was looking forward to bowling to Kohli.
“We all admire him, he is a legendary cricketer. Seeing him play and bowling to him is a pleasure. There is no pressure as such and we will do what we have been doing,” he said.
Bowling a worry
While Kings XI have kept themselves alive with some deft death-over bowling by Sandeep, Mohit Sharma and Marcus Stoinis, RCB are yet to find the suitable combination.
This season, RCB have failed to defend scores of 191 against Delhi Daredevils, 170 against Mumbai Indians, 180 against Gujarat Lions and 185 against Knight Riders. The bowlers have claimed just 38 wickets with Watson leading the chart with 12 wickets.
With the league getting to the business end, where every win and loss will determine qualification chances, it’s time the RCB players get into the stride.