While still in his early days as captain, there's no denying Virat Kohli’s genius as a batsman. On Tuesday, Kohli demonstrated once again why he is rated as the best young batsman in India, with an authoritative knock that helped Royal Challengers Bangalore banish the demons of Sunday’s loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad. Opting to go full throttle with a pace-reliant attack didn’t exactly go according to plan but Kohli made every ball count while batting, sending the crowd and the opposition into a tizzy.
He scored 93 off 47 balls but the hallmark of his innings was the pure cricketing shots that came off his blade. His onslaught forced the bowlers to err, and they were punished even more.
Kumar Sangakkara’s punt of asking Hanuma Vihari to open the bowling and do an encore of Sunday failed when Mayank Agarwal carted him for a six and four off consecutive deliveries with Chris Gayle at the other end. But Gayle was again dismissed cheaply. This time, however, he departed edging Ishant Sharma to Parthiv Patel’s gloves but not before he was undone by a stinging spell from Dale Steyn. AB de Villiers, who landed Tuesday morning, too failed to get going but Kohli took it upon himself to guide Bangalore to an easy win.
But the win could have been easier had it not been for the failure of Bangalore’s pacers to check the run-flow in the slog overs of Hyderabad’s innings. For reasons best known to Kohli, Royal Challengers exhausted Muttiah Muralitharan before even the slog overs began. Despite having an acceptable average of seven runs per over, Murali Karthik too was denied his fourth over as Kohli decided to make it an all-pace attack in the final six overs. The result was absolute mayhem. Sunrisers were 84/3 after 14 overs but from there on it was a thrashing Kohli wouldn't have envisaged.
The last six overs produced 77 runs but more than the bashing handed out by Cameron White and Thisara Perera, three wides at crucial junctures stretched the nightmare for Bangalore. All fast bowlers went for runs but White and Perera came down heavily on Moises Henriques and Vinay Kumar, milking 18 and 19 runs respectively in their 16th and 17th overs. It gave Hyderabad enough runs to throw down the gauntlet but Kohli had other plans.