One of the most feared names in world cricket, the Royal Challengers Bengaluru skipper is these days vying for the title of the best batsman in the world in all formats of the game, including in the IPL
In 2008, when he was picked by Royal Challengers Bengaluru, none doubted Virat Kohli’s ability to bat well and grow as a batsman after his impressive performance in the Under-19 World Cup which India won under his leadership. But there were not many who would have wagered that in less than a decade he would be considered among the world’s best batsmen. And he is only getting better. His batting average over the last 18 months is staggering, upwards of 65 across all formats of the game.
Virat Kohli first came into limelight in the shorter version of the game when he scored an unbeaten 133 off 86 against Sri Lanka at Hobart in 2012 and helped India pull off one of the greatest ODI wins ever. He smashed the in-form Sri Lankan spearhead Lasith Malinga all over the park and played his yorkers to perfection. Since then, he has not looked back.
In 2014, in a 4 match test series Down Under, Kohli battered Australian bowlers and scored 692 runs at an average of 86.50 which included 4 hundreds. He earned the respect of cricket fans across the globe with his magical stroke play and hunger to win for the country.
Following his impressive performances in limited overs cricket, Kohli was appointed as the skipper of Royal Challengers Bengaluru in 2013. He along, with Chris Gayle and AB De Villiers, formed a formidable batting line-up and played many a breathtaking knock. As a captain in his first year, Kohli scored 634 at an average of 45.29 and missed out an opportunity to score his first century in IPL. He was run out on 99 against Delhi Daredevils.
When MS Dhoni announced his retirement from test cricket last year, Kohli was the obvious first choice skipper. Instead of being burdened by the weight of captaincy, the Delhi lad has only got better since being given the responsibility. In 2016, he became the first batsman in the history of the test match cricket to score 4 double hundreds in successive series.
His IPL performance last year was nothing short of monumental. He scored an astounding 973 at a staggering average of 81.08. He started the season with a cracking 75 against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Bengaluru to help his side to an easy win. He then stroked 79 against Delhi Daredevils, but in a losing cause. Kohli scored his first IPL hundred against Gujarat Lions in 63 balls and remained unbeaten on 100.
Chasing 192 against Rising Pune Supergiants, Kohli scored his second T20 hundred of the season and eased Royal Challengers Bengaluru to a seven-wicket win in the final over. In another game against Gujarat Lions, Kohli and AB De Villiers put on a record-breaking 229 runs partnership for the second wicket. Both the batsmen scored hundreds as Royal Challengers Bengaluru notched up 248 and went on to win by a huge margin of 144 runs. Kohli’s spectacular innings of 109 included 8 sixes and 5 fours.
In another match, while chasing 184 against a quality bowling attack of Kolkata Knight Riders that had the likes of Narine, Russell, Shakib and Morkel, Kohli made the run chase look incredibly easy as he helped the team reach the target of 186 with eight balls to spare. He was again unbeaten with 75 off 51 balls. His fourth century of the season came in a rain-affected 15-over-a-side game against Kings XI Punjab, when he scored 113 off just 50 balls. RCB won the match by 91 runs.
In the nail-biting final against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kohli scored 54, in a match where Royal Challengers Bengaluru fell short by 8 runs. Kohli could not win the trophy but won the hearts of fans across the country with his sensational performance. This was his seventh half-century of the tournament.
Virat Kohli is the highest run getter in Indian Premier League with 4110 runs in 139 matches at an average of 38.05. He was the first batsman to reach 4000 IPL runs. And going by his performance in both tests and ODIs in recent times Royal Challengers Bengaluru fans can expect a big treat from their skipper this season as well.
(Article by MKM Faiyaz Ahmed)
Image courtesy: www.royalchallengers.com
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