Shy of 1000 runs, Kohli still makes a lasting impact

  • Somshuvra Laha
  • Updated: May 31, 2016 08:58 IST

KOLKATA: For better or worse, anger has had a strange association with sports. Thankfully for Virat Kohli, it hasn’t come between him and success with the bat. It might have come at the cost of being labelled the ‘angry young man’ of Indian cricket but Kohli doesn’t seem concerned because it possibly is fuelling his enviable form.

Sunday’s final was primed to witness Kohli’s last act in this IPL. But he didn’t get to 1000 runs. And all the time RCB were losing their way out, Kohli wore a wry smile.

“It is a nice incentive, but it does not feel good to be at the other side of the result,” said Kohli after getting his Orange Cap after Sunday’s final. “I knew I was hitting the ball well and I just wanted to keep contributing. I surprised myself there. I opened the innings, someone batting at No.3 or No.4 may not have scored much,” he said.

What makes Kohli special right now is his conviction with the bat. But the seeds of the run machine Kohli were possibly sown in the Test series in Australia in 2015. Against the toughest team in a country where he had lost his cool in the past, Kohli scored four centuries that made it a closer competition than anticipated.

In the same series came the unexpected responsibility of captaincy. It gave impetus to Kohli’s line of thought. He didn’t take much time to impose his aggression on the team, even if it meant going for a pace-heavy bowling attack on a docile Fatullah pitch.

And then there is that unquenchable thirst to win. It might be early days but what separates Kohli from previous Indian captains is his desire to win everything at any cost. Ever since he has been Test captain, India have won two out of three Test series — 2-1 in Sri Lanka and 3-0 against South Africa at home. The only other time he is leading any team is in the IPL. So it isn’t surprising to see Royal Challengers Bangalore in the final.

Kohli’s challenge was to forge a unit that believed in winning just like he did. And as distant as it might seem now, his first century came in a losing cause against Gujarat Lions. Only when it boiled down to a situation where they had to win their last four matches to qualify for the playoffs did Kohli take it upon himself.

First, he ensured along with AB de Villiers that Gujarat were batted out of the game at home. Had it not been for his crafty 75 in Kolkata, RCB could have been derailed. Then came that unbelievable century in a 15-over game against Kings XI Punjab. Kohli finished what he started, anchoring a tricky chase against Delhi to seal the second position. By leading the way with the bat, Kohli not only managed get the best out of the limited bowling resources but also won hearts everywhere they played.

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