Virat Kohli, the former Royal Challengers Bangalore captain, bagged his first Man of the Match award of the IPL 2022. It took him 14 games to do – but finally, the talisman RCB batter came good in a must-win encounter, against the Gujarat Titans keeping RCB afloat in the playoff race.
Coming into this game vs Gujarat, Virat Kohli was averaging 19 at a strike rate of 113 and had clearly been struggling for runs and the big knock. Against Hardik Pandya’s side, in the chase of 169, the 33-year-old whacked 73 runs off 54 balls in a match-winning cause, after he’d been given a reprieve by Rashid Khan dropping him at deep square leg.
Kohli revealed that he even joked about his own wretched form with Jos Buttler, the leading run-scorer of the tournament currently, when the Englishman approached him for some advice after the RCB-RR encounter.
“Jos Buttler came to me, after the Rajasthan Royals match, and said I want to ask you something and I told him that you’re wearing the Orange Cap what do you want to ask me, I am not able to make runs – and we had a laugh about it,” said Kohli in a chat with the broadcaster Star Sports.
Against the Titans, Kohli’s knock, and his 115-run opening stand with Faf du Plessis, set it up for Glenn Maxwell (40 off 18 balls) who took RCB over the line in the run-chase. This also perhaps could signal the dawn of a new phase in Kohli’s career after what had been largely a horrific 13 IPL matches.
In the post-match ceremony, Kohli revealed that he’d practised in the nets for around 90 minutes a day before the game, and having clarity in mind – about his shot selection – helped him the most to break his dismal rut.
“I was disappointed that I haven’t done much for my team and that is what bothers me, not the stats. Today was a game where I was able to create an impact for the team. Puts us in a good position. There are expectations because of the performances that you have put in,” Kohli said after receiving his Player of the Match award.
“You need to keep the perspective right. You can forget the process in order to live up to the expectations. I have worked really hard. I batted 90 minutes in the nets yesterday. I came in very free and relaxed.”
This win, with 8 balls to spare, took RCB to fourth position in the points table; they now have 16 points and will be praying for Delhi Capitals, who have 14 points, to lose their last league game against Mumbai Indians.