Virat fuels RCB’s title charge, ends Delhi Daredevils’ chances

  • Amit Kamath, Hindustan Times, Raipur
  • Updated: May 24, 2016 01:41 IST
In Naya Raipur, Virat Kohli took the backseat and let his partner KL Rahul be the aggressor. (AFP)

Benjamin Franklin had once said: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, there is a third cetainty: Virat Kohli will always score big.

The 27-year-old certainly did not disappoint on Sunday, scoring a match-winning 54* in their must-win IPL match against Delhi Daredevils to take Bangalore into the play-offs. The Delhi lad has now scored 919 runs in this season of the Indian Premier League and that’s just in 14 innings which include six 50s and four 100s.

In the other match of the day, Kolkata Knight Riders’ spinners thwarted Sunrisers Hyderabad’s big hitters, including David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan, to enter the play-offs.

In Raipur, Kohli was once again was the brightest star. But dry statistics, of course, don’t do full justice to Kohli.

Four days ago, he scored 113 off 50 balls against Kings XI Punjab. That was a ruthless display of attacking batting, a take-no-prisoners style of hitting which saw him slam 12 fours and eight sixes.

It was an innings which saw Aaron Finch tweet that the ease with which Kohli was scoring embarrassed other batsmen while and former Sri Lankan bowler Chaminda Vaas remarked that Kohli could hit him for six sixes in an over.

Sunday’s innings was a study in contrast. With just 139 runs needed to earn the play-off spot, Kohli knuckled down. He needed to, especially given how the team’s other batting figureheads, AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle, were dismissed with the scoreboard reading 17/2 inside three overs. This was a night that demanded prudence, not flash-bang.

What Naya Raipur witnessed was a batsman willing to let his partner, KL Rahul, be the aggressor for a change while he focussed on rotating the strike.

The less-than-perfect deliveries were, of course, dispatched to the boundary: Zaheer Khan’s slightly wide delivery was driven through the covers; an over-pitched ball on the pads was punched down the ground; Jayant Yadav’s wide delivery was cut to the third man boundary.

There was some luck involved too, not that he needs it given the form he is in. Like in the fifth over when a Zaheer delivery took a thick edge and bounced perilously close to the stumps before finding the boundary. In the next over, he edged a Chris Morris ball that fell short of Karun Nair at slip. That was the closest Delhi would ever get the rest of the night.

‘Virat confidence’

At the post-match press conference, RCB spinner Yuzvendra Chahal was asked whether the team felt any anxiety at any stage of the match.

“Until Virat was there we were confident that we would make it,” the spinner said.

This could very well be the motto for Bangalore’s maiden IPL title chase.

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