BENGALURU: Virat Kohli’s form in all formats has been a cause of concern for over two years now. However, on Thursday, the 33-year-old batsman cracked a magnificent 73 off 54 balls and led Royal Challengers Bangalore to an important win against Gujarat Titans. After a long time, he looked in his element and whipped out his customary shots with aplomb.
More importantly, this was a marvellously fluent and well-crafted innings. Though he had scored a half-century earlier in the tournament as well (58 off 53 balls against Gujarat) but that was a rather scratchy and laboured effort.
On Thursday, Virat started his rampage by lofting Mohammad Shami over his head for a splendid boundary in the 3rd over. In the same over, he reeled off an exquisite drive over covers to make a solid statement.
A sportsperson often needs the rub of the green to go their way to lift themselves out of patchy form. Kohli also found favour with the luck as Rashid Khan grassed a catch at the deep square in the 4th over bowled by Gujarat’s captain Hardik Pandya as he tried to flick the ball drifting on his pads for a six.
Like a champion batter, he made good use of the life and began penetrating every corner of the ground. He drove, slashed and pulled with authority, but also pinched singles with ease.
In the 10th over, he launched the leg-spinner Rashid over deep mid-wicket for a huge six to bring up his fifty in just 33 balls. Like he has done several times, Kohli was meticulously calibrated in a chase. Chasing 169, he and captain Faf du Plessis added 115 runs for the first wicket. After du Plessis’s departure, Kohli exhibited gumption and let the new batman Glenn Maxwell take charge as the explosive Australian batter unleashed an array of boundaries.
In the 17th over, he stepped out and once again smoked Rashid for a terrific straight six. But was stumped in the same over trying to smite another biggie. However, Bangalore were in a comfortable position by then and eventually romped home by eight wickets in the 19th over.
This innings is a good indication that Kohli is quite near to regaining his mojo. He not only batted with confidence but also exuded immense exuberance and verve throughout his stay at the crease. He was looking determined and intense.
“I’m actually in the happiest phase of my life. I am not finding any self-worth or value in what I do in the field. I’m way past that phase. This is a phase of evolution for me. Not to say that I don’t have the same drive. My drive will never die down. The day my drive goes away, I’ll not be playing this game,” he said before the match.
His form, combined with his drive, skills and experience, will be handy for India as they are slated to play the rescheduled fifth Test against England in July. A win or a draw will ensure their first Test series victory in England since 2007.
The tentpole ICC event World T20 is scheduled to be held later this year and Kohli’s form will be exceedingly crucial if India have to make a mark in the tournament. Hopefully, this is the beginning of the new phase of Kohli’s career, and there are many more runs and hundreds in the offing for this wonderful cricketer.