Virat Kohli has been a vital cog for the Royal Challengers Bangalore since the inception of the IPL. An iconic figure for the franchise, he was bought for $50,000 in 2008 by the RCB based on a draft system. He got the role of captaincy 5 seasons later, replacing Daniel Vettori. In the recent years, the RCB have built the team around him.
Kohli has given us several performances to remember over the years. So today, let us look at 5 of his best batting performances in the IPL.
5) 100 (58) v Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens, IPL 2019
RCB were absolutely down and almost out of the tournament by the time they arrived at the Eden Gardens to play their return fixture against the Kolkata Knight Riders. In their previous encounter at the Chinnaswamy, the visitors were set a target of 206. Andre Russell walked in with 67 required off 26 for KKR, smashed 48 off 13 balls, taking 18 and 28 runs in the 18th and 19th Over, and helped his side romp home with 5 balls to spare, much to the frustration of the RCB franchise and its supporters. KKR, the home team this time, won the toss and put the Bangalore based franchise in to bat first. RCB were on tenterhooks at 60/2 at the 9 over mark. England’s Moeen Ali joined Virat Kohli and soon launched into an onslaught against the KKR spinners.
Kohli played second fiddle to him all along, reaching his fifty in the 15th Over off 40 deliveries. It was not a pleasant half century for the RCB skipper, as the KKR bowlers were on top of him all along, and for a player of his standard to take 40 balls to reach a half century, clearly, Kohli was struggling. But, once Moeen Ali holed out to long on in the 16th Over, after taking Kuldeep Yadav apart, smashing 26 off the over with three sixes, Kohli decided to shift gears.
An exhibition of clean hitting followed from Kohli in the last 4 overs, which fetched him 45 runs of his own, as he reached his hundred off 57 balls on the penultimate delivery of the innings, flicking a Harry Gurney full toss towards square leg for four, assisted by some ordinary fielding. Kohli and Moeen’s efforts ensured RCB posted a mammoth total of 213/4. From 70/2 in the halfway mark, RCB plundered 143 runs in the last 10 overs.
In reply, KKR lost both their big hitting openers, Lynn and Narine, followed by Shubman Gill, within the powerplay. By the time Robin Uthappa departed in the 12th Over, after struggling for 20 balls for just 9 runs, KKR were 79/4 and staring at defeat. But an absolute blitzkrieg from Andre Russell, helped by a well set Nitish Rana, ensured that KKR took the game to the last over. From 134 off 49, the match came down to 24 off the last 6, with both batsmen striking the ball immaculately. Moeen Ali held his nerve in the last over, preventing Andre Russell from snatching victory away from them a second time in the tournament, as RCB managed to win by 10 runs, injecting some life into their campaign.
4) 93* (47) v Sunrisers Hyderabad, Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore, IPL 2013
This was Kohli’s first season as captain for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, after he took over from former New Zealand left arm spinner Daniel Vettori prior to the commencement of the 6th edition of the tournament. The RCB lost to the new Hyderabad franchise in a super over a couple of days ago. In the return fixture, SRH won the toss and opted to bat first. After a slow start, they slumped to 62/3, having just lost their skipper, Kumar Sangakkara. But an explosive partnership of 80 off 44 between Cameron White and Thisara Perera saw Sunrisers Hyderabad post 161/6, a good score on what seemed like a slow wicket.
RCB got off to a good start, with 39 runs off the first 5 overs. Virat Kohli walked in to bat after Mayank Agarwal departed, top edging the first ball of the sixth over from Thisara Perera. RCB lost Gayle soon after, who nicked one to Parthiv Patel off Ishant Sharma. Kohli was then joined by Ab de Villiers. The pair struck 49 together from 35 balls, keeping their side well and truly in the game. Kohli, though, was doing most of the scoring, adding 34.
Once de Villiers departed off 15, holing out to mid wicket off a long hop from Cameron White, Kohli, 37 from 22 at the time, found another good partner in Moises Henriques, who held up one end and gave most of the strike to the man in form. An array of thumping drives off quicks and cuts off spinners followed from Kohli, who reached his fifty off 31 balls. He then proceeded to smash Amit Mishra for 21 runs in the 16th over, completely easing the pressure that was building up. He made merry in the following over from Thisara Perera, thumping and edging 16 runs off it. Two boundaries in the following over from the same man brought victory to the RCB in style. Turned out that Henriques had contributed only seven runs to an unbroken 65-run fourth wicket partnership that secured the result! Talk about a one man show.
3) 109 (55) v Gujarat Lions at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore, 2016
Kohli’s IPL season of 2016 was probably the best season an individual could have without lifting the trophy. 973 runs, averaging 81.08, 4 hundreds. He presented us with some of his best performances with the bat in his whole career.
Gujarat Lions skipper Brendon McCullum won the toss on a slow Chinnaswamy deck and put RCB in to bat first. After a slow start, Gayle’s dismissal in the 4th Over might have made them think that the decision of fielding first might be vindicated. But, in at 3, walked in to bat Ab de Villiers, and the rest was history. While de Villiers made merry with the likes of Praveen Kumar, Dhaval Kulkarni, Pravin Tambe and Shivil Kaushik, Kohli, who opened the innings along with Gayle, quietly kept on playing at a run a ball, rotating the strike. So compared to de Villiers’ 25 balls, Kohli took a lot more time in reaching his fifty, 39 balls. But never at any stage did he look unsettled or off control. After reaching his fifty, he got the strike for only one delivery until de Villiers reached his hundred, off 43 deliveries.
The 17th Over ended with a couple of sixes from de Villiers. And from there on, Virat Kohli decided to take centre stage. 30 came from the following over from Dwayne Bravo, out of which 13 came off Kohli’s bat. Poor Shivil Kaushik had to face the wrath of Kohli in the 19th Over, as Kohli smashed 4 towering sixes and a four to add 30 off the over. With the assistance of a straight six in the third ball of the last over by Praveen Kumar , Virat Kohli brought up his third IPL hundred. He then hit another six over square leg and was out to a fantastic catch from Bravo at square leg in the penultimate ball of the innings. The two had added a staggering 229 for the 2nd wicket, and this was only the second instance of two batsmen scoring a ton in the same innings in T20 Cricket.
The onslaught from the two ace RCB batsmen and the enormity of the task before them weighed heavily on Lions’ batsmen in their reply. The early loss of Dwayne Smith pretty much ended Gujarat Lions’ hopes. Wickets fell at regular intervals and the run rate never approached the levels that were required. Chris Jordan and Yuzvendra Chahal made the most of the situation to bag figures of 4 for 11 and 3 for 19 respectively, before Sachin Baby took two in two to seal a comprehensive win and help the RCB stay afloat in the campaign.
2) 108*(58) v Rising Pune Supergiants at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore
Fifties from Ajinkya Rahane and Saurabh Tiwary, and explosive cameos from Thisara Perera and Rajat Bhatia at the end helped the now defunct Rising Pune Supergiants set a target of 192 for RCB to chase. In the absence of Chris Gayle, Kohli walked out to open the Innings along with wicketkeeper Lokesh Rahul. What followed next was a masterclass from Virat Kohli on how to chase a target. Accompanied by Rahul, Kohli brought out his array of glorious strokes to add 94 in 11 Overs for the first wicket. Rahul, who was playing second fiddle to Kohli all this while, playing a big shot or two now and then, holed out to deep cover off Adam Zampa, followed by de Villiers in the same over, which meant that RPS were back in the game. The required run rate climbed over 12 as Shane Watson joined Virat Kohli in the middle. He took 20 off Perera in the 14th Over to ease the pressure. Watson smashed 36 off 13 before being trapped by RP Singh with 49 still required off 28. Kohli, who was on 63 at that point of time, took on the anchor’s role. With 40 required off the last 3 overs, he took on Zampa, the leg spinner for 17, and then another 18 off RP Singh in the penultimate over, which saw him bring up his second IPL hundred. Fittingly, like we’ve seen him do so many times, Kohli hit the winning runs, with three balls to spare, with a flick past square leg for four off Ashoke Dinda.
1) 113 (50) v Kings XI Punjab at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore, IPL 2016
In the previous game against KKR, Kohli injured his left palm while going for a catch. Never one to be suppressed by injuries, Kohli got 9 stitches on his hand, walked out to bat, and helped RCB chase down 184 at the Eden Gardens, finishing with 75*(51).
Coming to this game, with a spot in the playoffs at stake, this was a must win game for RCB. There were doubts as to whether Kohli would be able to play or not due to the injury he suffered in the previous game. Rain ensured that the match was curtailed to 15 overs a side after the start got delayed by 2 hours. RCB lost the toss but got to bat first. Walking in to open with Chris Gayle, Kohli showed absolutely no signs of discomfort as the duo added a mind blowing, entertaining 147 in 11 Overs. While Gayle was at his bludgeoning best, slogging sixes for fun, Kohli, although taking the aerial route quite often, looked like a craftsman at work. In fact, Kohli was the one who brought up his fifty first, in 28 deliveries.
After Gayle’s departure, Kohli shifted gears, and with a few delightful boundaries, reached his 4th hundred off the season 2 overs later, with a flick past mid wicket for four off Sandeep Sharma. Animated celebrations followed from the RCB captain, as he repeatedly pointed at his injured hand and then pumped his fists. A six and a four later, he departed, holing out to Miller at long off. RCB went on to win the game quite convincingly, by a massive margin of 82 runs. This innings spoke a lot about Kohli’s character, and his bond with the franchise. RCB went on to reach the final of the IPL that season, where they heartbreakingly lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad by 8 runs at the Chinnaswamy, their own home ground.