poeye final

Virat Kohli has been the relative unsung hero of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) as his performances have been overshadowed by the likes of AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle in the 2015 Indian Premier League (IPL). He came into the tournament with a mixed World Cup; except for the hundred against Pakistan, he had did not get to the half-century mark even once and failed in the most crucial match against Australia in the semis. He only managed paltry scores of three and one in the two most crucial knock-out World Cup games against Bangladesh and Australia respectively.

Earlier, Kohli experienced a bad drought in England, but bounced back emphatically in the Test series in Australia — like a true champion. He was unquestionably the remarkable performer of the tour, shepherding the team through crisis and inspiring them.

Kohli has played some brilliant knocks throughout the ongoing IPL. One such innings was witnessed against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH). The rain curtailed the overs. SRH batted first and posted 135 in 11 overs on the board. RCB was asked to chase a target of 81 in six overs after rain yet again played spoilsport. Kohli got the score board running from the outset to come out with all guns blazing. He kept the required run-rate under check and kept striking boundaries. RCB needed 13 runs off the final over and Kohli ensured he did the job for his team.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar has displayed the traditional art of bowling yorkers in the death to perfection in this tournament. Hegot his length almost dead right, but Kohli’s brilliance destroyed his skills. Bhuvneshwar bowled a wide yorker with third-man up in the 30-yard circle; Kohli went deep into crease and placed the ball between the two fielders to earn his team a priceless boundary. He later finished off the contest by hitting a six of the second last delivery to keep his team alive in the tournament. He delivered when it mattered the most for the RCB.

One of the important aspects of his batting throughout the IPL was his temperament. He never got carried away when someone like de Villiers or Gayle assaulted the opposition attack. He stuck to his guns and anchored the innings by rotating the strike and easing off the pressure. He is in the running for the Orange cap with 480 runs at a blistering strike-rate of 134.45 — just behind David Warner.

Kohli batted at No 3 in first few matches earlier this season, but later took the gallant decision to open with Gayle. It seems that RCB have got their batting order right with de Villiers at three for the first time in years. They now look like the team to beat. With these performances Kohli has proved his ability to dominate across all the three formats.

(Suraj Choudhari, an avid cricket follower who plays the sport at club level, is a staffer with Criclife)

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