Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. Photo courtsey: Kohli's Twitter handle
Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. Photo courtsey: Kohli’s Twitter handle

“Unbelievable, can’t believe I’m the winning captain. That should end a lot of debates as to who is the best going around. No question about it,” a charged up Royal Challengers Bangalore’s (RCB) skipper Virat Kohli said terming AB de Villiers the best batsman of the current generation. It was Kohli, who was in a mind boggling form with 10 fifties and 4 centuries in 14 group stage matches, however it was de Villiers’ knock on the particular day, which has taken RCB a win away from embarking themselves in history. Although Kohli has declared that, the debate about who the best among the duo has ended, do you see the debate actually ending? Highly doubt it, isn’t it? Full Cricket Scorecard: Gujarat Lions vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2016 Qualifier 1 at Bengaluru

De Villiers terming Kohli world’s best might not be very far!

Yes, it was a matter of one knock. Kohli has a chance to replicate that in the grand finale and the media houses will have headlines saying de Villiers terms Kohli as the current best batsman. While de Villiers is more of a freaky hitter and as he said he is surely not the thinker of the game, Kohli takes time to settle. His selection of shots is well thought out. Although their batting styles are different, the results are generally same — a blistering knock that almost takes the bowlers to a frustrating level.

Earlier, when Kohli scored his second century of IPL 2016, de Villiers called his teammate and skipper, “world class and pure class.” A profound follower of cricket must have been used to these remarks from Kohli and de Villiers about each other. As a colleague, Chinmay Jawalekar summed it up perfectly by saying the duo have formed a ‘mutual admiration club.’ The Indian Test skipper once admitted to have taken batting tips from de Villiers in 2011 and now the roles have reversed as de Villiers did not hesitate to reveal he learns a lot by watching Kohli from the other end.

They clearly hold a high esteem for each other. They never dither complimenting each other. Their friendship is never affected when they face off during their national duties. After every good knock, either of them share a selfie praising the other. The latest selfie obviously was dedicated by Kohli to AB, saying, “What a performance. Big Game, Pressure Situation and the best in the world, @ABdeVilliers17, delivers like no one else.”

Tuesday night at Bengaluru was a huge moment for RCB when de Villiers along with a Iqbal Abdullah —someone who is not known for his batting skills — took them into a their third IPL final. The side easily have the most powerful batting line-up among the eight teams in the edition. The only weakness has been their lack of experience in their bowling department.

However, the bowlers finally ruled when they shocked a fierce batting line-up of Gujarat Lions (GL) in Qualifier 1. GL were in trouble straight away when their top-order was back in the dugout in 4 overs. Thanks to Dwayne Smith’s 73, GL posted 158. The total was not good enough despite the slow nature of the pitch, RCB romped home. Nevertheless, Suresh Raina’s side had the same success as RCB bowlers in the initial overs of the second innings.

The players went crazy celebrating when they had the in-form Kohli’s wicket in the very second over. The celebration doubled because the player who was just 81 runs away from another record was walking back for a duck. If Kohli was gone, RCB still had de Villiers.

70 required off 48 with 4 wickets to spare. Qualifier 1 of IPL 2016. A win would take RCB straight away to the final. With the current form of the team, AB knew they stand a great chance to win their maiden title. The pressure was immense. The GL bowlers would not give up. But the man was hell bent to finish it. He faced another 19 balls, added 35 more as Chinnaswamy crowd went wild.

 

Playing against his weakness of not delivering in pressure situations, the South African went on to do something he is yet to do for his country—fought the odds, kept his cool and led RCB to a final. (Remember, South Africa is yet to play ICC World Cup final?). Kohli went on to term de Villers’ unbeaten 79 the bets knock he had witnessed under pressure.

It’s a very simple explanation to end the debate. Just bring the debate to an end. As Jos Buttler earlier labelled the two as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo of cricket—two best players in one team— they understand each other’s game well, share a great bond off-field which has done wonders for RCB on field. The world has accepted the fact that the Superman and Batman of cricket are the geniuses of limited-overs cricket. Even if we give the award of the best batsman to one of these two contemporary greats, compliments are never going to end. They will continue to break records, make records together and not stop admiring each others’ innings. Hence, regardless of debate being on or off, these two will anyway keep terming each other “world’s best!”

(Sakshi Gupta, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a sports fanatic whose mantra in life is “do only what you enjoy.” Her Twitter handle is @sakshi2929)