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Virat Kohli has had a forgettable Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 so far. The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) captain hasn’t got one score of 50 or above in 10 innings in IPL 7. Now Bangalore face the formidable Chennai Super Kings on May 18 in a must-win clash. Shrikant Shankar writes Kohli must show his true class and come to the fore if Bangalore are to keep their chances alive.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) face an uphill task to qualify for the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 play-offs. They currently are in sixth place in the IPL 7 Points Table with only eight points after 10 matches. The top three positions are more or less settled with Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the race. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and Bangalore are vying for that lone fourth spot. So, obviously it is not going to be easy.
For Bangalore, much will depend on the form of Virat Kohli. The captain has not had an IPL to remember so far. In 10 matches, Kohli has not managed to get a score of 50 or above. He has scored a total of 154 runs in 10 innings at an average of 17.11. His strike-rate is 106.94. Add to that, Kohli has got out for a duck thrice. He has only scored 13 fours and five sixes. These are not numbers one would associate with Kohli. His last five innings read like this – 0, 35, 0, 4 and 10. Clearly, he has not been in his best form.
But it didn’t start all poorly. His first five innings read like this – 49 not out, 0, 31, 21 and 4. Kohli was not able to make his starts count in the early part and now is struggling as a consequence. Even for a player of Kohli’s calibre, confidence is vital. These scores will not give him the confidence to go ahead and play his natural attacking game. He will be a little cautious during his innings and it will affect his overall game. But with only four matches in the group stages remaining, Kohli must shine for Bangalore.
They face the formidable Chennai outfit on May 18 at Ranchi. The crowd will be rooting for local hero MS Dhoni and his team. So, Bangalore have their backs to the ball before the coin has been flipped. Bangalore are a little lucky that Yuvraj Singh has come back to form in roaring fashion. AB de Villiers can always be relied upon. Chris Gayle’s poor form has also hurt Bangalore’s chances in IPL 7. Kohli’s lean run has not helped their situation. These four are Bangalore’s best players and main hopes. If two do not perform on a consistent basis, victory will seem like a herculean task.
Bangalore’s bowling has been leaking far too many runs for their own liking. So, it is imperative that the main four perform in each of the matches remaining. It all starts with the captain and if Kohli can find his form against Chennai, Bangalore will have a great chance. Maybe Kohli can take a cue from Yuvraj and turn his form.
The left-hander was ridiculed after India’s loss in the ICC World T20 2014 final, but he has put his doubters to rest by hammering 16 sixes and eight fours in his last two innings. Kohli faced no such hardship, so, the pressure is not that much compared to what Yuvraj faced. Either way, Kohli needs to show his class and come to the fore if Bangalore are to keep their play-off chances alive.
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)
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