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regular-article-logo Saturday, 15 June 2024

Indian Premier League: Playoffs push that always deserted Virat Kohli

Kohli’s lean record in the playoffs has often been held responsible for RCB’s failure to win the IPL title

Our Special Correspondent Calcutta Published 24.05.24, 07:48 AM
Trophy so far: Orange Cap holder Virat Kohli ended his IPL 2024 season with 741 runs, but again without the trophy in RCB colours.

Trophy so far: Orange Cap holder Virat Kohli ended his IPL 2024 season with 741 runs, but again without the trophy in RCB colours. PTI

The slog sweep let Virat Kohli down on Wednesday. The shot had proved to be his trump card against the spinners to ramp up his strike-rate in IPL 2024, but Yuzvendra Chahal had a different trick up his sleeve.

It spun away and Kohli just didn’t get enough elevation into the shot. His dismissal for 33 in the eighth over dealt a huge blow and RCB never really recovered to provide the momentum to the innings.

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Rajat Patidar and Mahipal Lomror showed promise but failed to convert their starts as RCB could manage only 172. While credit should also go to the Rajasthan Royals bowlers, especially Ravichandran Ashwin and Avesh Khan, RCB realised quite early that they would find it tough to defend such a meagre total.

Kohli came out of his own risk-averse batting blueprint, taking more chances in a bid to improve his strike-rate this season. His six-hitting tally more than doubled from last season (16) as he cleared the ropes as many as 38 times on way to accumulating 741 runs in 15 innings in IPL 2024.

But that wasn’t enough for RCB to go the full distance. Once Kohli found the conditions tough and the openers floundered, the writing was on the wall for RCB. Kohli’s good starts had been vital to RCB’s terrific run in the second part of their campaign. It helped the batters down the order to flourish once the foundation had been laid.

All such calculations were thrown out of gear in Ahmeabad in the Eliminator.

Kohli’s lean record in the playoffs has often been held responsible for RCB’s failure to win the IPL title. The franchise has made the playoffs seven times since it was introduced in 2011. But they have played the final only once, in 2011. Before that, when semi-finals were used to determine the finalists, RCB had played the summit clash in 2009, but had lost to Deccan Chargers.

Kohli has only two half-ce­nturies in 12 innings and the team’s fortunes have revolv­ed around his form, the presence of the other stars notwithstanding. Over the years, RCB’s fortunes have always re­volved around Kohli, though stars like Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers had been around for quite a few seasons. Kohli’s fai­lure has led to the batting falling apart in crucial moments.

The disappointment was writ large on Kohli’s face on Wednesday. RCB released a video on social media narrating the dressing room scenes after the heartbreaking defeat.

It captured Kohli’s sombre mood in the dugout fiddling with his phone after the loss. “To be honest, the first half of the season was a really under-par performa­nce from us. The standards that we have as cricketers, we were not able to live up to them. Then we started expressing ourselves, played for our own self-respect. Our confidence came back. The way turned things around and qualified was truly special,” Kohli said.

The wait for a title continues for RCB and Kohli.

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