'Send this to Gavaskar': Virat Kohli's presence felt at RCB's WPL tie before IPL | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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'Send this to Gavaskar': Virat Kohli's presence felt at RCB's WPL game ahead of IPL 2024

Feb 28, 2024 02:25 PM IST

The Chinnaswamy crowd broke into 'Kohli-Kohli' chants as RCB were batting in their 2nd WPL 2024 game against Gujarat Giants last night.

Virat Kohli may be away from cricket but his presence was surely felt during Royal Challengers Bangalore's Women's Premier League game against Gujarat Giants at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Tuesday. With Bengaluru hosting the first leg of the WPL, the crowd gave a rapturous ovation to RCB, who with two wins from two matches are placed at the top of the WPL 2024 points table. But despite the likes of Smriti Mandhana, Sophie Devine and Ellyse Perry, it seems as if the crowd missed having their favourite Kohli around.

Virat Kohli is omnipresent. (RCB-Screengrab-Twitter)
Virat Kohli is omnipresent. (RCB-Screengrab-Twitter)

At one point during RCB's 108-run chase which they achieved without breaking a sweat in the 13th over, the Chinnaswamy crowd broke into 'Kohli-Kohli' chants. Kohli is the sole player who has remained loyal to one IPL franchise since its inception. Between 2008 and 2023, he seamlessly transitioned from player to captain, and now, as a legend, continues to evoke thunderous applause.

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With the IPL less than a month away, speculations are running wild whether the Indian cricket icon will return in time for the season opener, which pits RCB against old rivals Chennai Super Kings – 'the Kaveri Derby' as it is commonly known. Kohli has not missed a single edition of the IPL since its inception 18 years ago. But given his recent promotion to becoming a two-time father, only Kohli, or the RCB cream, know what his next move is.

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Kohli missed the entire Test series against England due to 'personal reasons' which as revealed was the birth of his second child, Akaay. But while he was rumoured to be back in time to play the IPL 2024 for RCB, the legendary Sunil Gavaskar is not too certain.

Also Read: Sunil Gavaskar sparks IPL 2024 fear after new dad Virat Kohli misses England Test series

"Will he play? He is not playing because of some reason, perhaps he may not play in IPL as well," Gavaskar had said during a Star Sports Event at the Indian Institute of Management, Ranchi.

When will Virat Kohli return

What Kohli is up to, only he knows. But one thing is assured. If India need him for the T20 World Cup, Kohli will be expected to play the 14 games that lie ahead. With BCCI secretary Jay Shah confirming that it will indeed be Rohit Sharma and not Hardik Pandya that will lead India in West Indies and the USA, the belief is that Kohli is part of those plans too. The guy may have played just two T20Is in the last year or so but as he proved in the previous edition with 639 runs at an average of 53.25 and two centuries, he's still got it.

Even after eight years, no one has been able to match Kohli's record season tally of 973 runs and while Kohli may not be able to replicate that insane season from 2016, he, as always, is expected to burn up the charts and challenge youngsters for that Orange Cap. Remember, RCB have never won an IPL title and Kohli, at 35, is expected to be more hungry, motivated and fiercely dedicated than ever.

The IPL 2024 begins March 22 in MS Dhoni's den of Chepauk.

IPL 2024
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