Thursday at the Wankhede Stadium was a crucial match for Royal Challengers Bangalore to keep their playoffs hopes alive. Eventually, they did it in style with Virat Kohli rising to the occasion at his vintage best, starring with a 54-ball 73, laced with eight boundaries and two sixes.
What was more game-changing though was the 115-run opening stand between Kohli and du Plessis, the highest partnership put up by these two in IPL 2022. It was a mix of fortune and glorious shots from the duo to seal the deal for Bangalore very early.
Thanks to Kohli running quick off the blocks and quashing queries over his poor form throughout the tournament, with the crowd firmly cheering for the talismanic batter, Bangalore were able to get a flying start, amassing 55 runs in power-play, with 34 of those coming from Kohli’s bat.
It was also just the third time Gujarat failed to pick a wicket in the first six overs.
Kohli took his time to get used to the conditions where Gujarat Titans huffed and puffed to 168/5. He then began his blitz from the third over, lofting Mohammed Shami over his head and then superbly lofting him inside-out over extra-cover.
Suddenly, Thursday started to feel like luck and fortune was favouring Kohli heavily, with thoughts of ‘is this going to be that day’ entering the minds of viewers.
“It goes back to 2018 in England when I was dropped on 21 and the juggernaut could have started again like it did on the 2014 tour. I won’t be standing here being ungrateful for all that I have achieved. With the very first shot of Shami, I felt I could hit length balls over the fielder’s head. I knew that tonight was the night when I could kick on,” was Kohli’s revelation on how he got the feel of quashing the lean patch against Gujarat after the match.
When Hardik Pandya cramped Kohli with a slower ball, the thick inside edge rolled past the stumps for a streaky boundary. When Kohli whipped a full ball in the air, Rashid Khan, who was inches inside the square-leg boundary, dropped the catch. Kohli then produced the shot of the match, dancing down the pitch and lofting straight over Rashid’s head with impeccable timing.
With du Plessis giving solid support by hitting boundaries either by the edges or by dispatching the poor deliveries to the boundary rope, Kohli brought up his fifty in 33 balls with a nice clipped six over deep mid-wicket off Rashid.
Du Plessis brought up the century of the opening partnership by swatting a sparingly used Lockie Ferguson through mid-wicket.
“Throughout the season we haven’t done as much as have liked. But you still need to back these big players. Virat had been putting in the hard yards in the nets. I play the role with him and get him pumped up. He has got so much emotions and hype pulls you through,” stated du Plessis after the game.
But he fell six short of his fifty, as top-edge on slog sweep went to cover off Rashid, bringing the 115-run stand to a close. Though Rashid would come back to get Kohli stumped with a googly, the equation was really easy for Glenn Maxwell to take Bangalore home without any further hiccups as the duo at the top made life really easy for the side to pocket crucial two points.