• Tuesday, April 16, 2024

IPL 2024

Kohli’s 77 leads Bengaluru’s victory over Punjab

Kohli smashed 11 fours and two sixes in his 49-ball blitz

Virat Kohli watches the ball after playing a shot during the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Royal Challengers Bengaluru and Punjab Kings at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on March 25, 2024. (Photo by IDREES MOHAMMED/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

VIRAT KOHLI on Monday (25) said he has “still got it” in him to ace T20 cricket after his attacking 77 guided Royal Challengers Bengaluru to their first win of this IPL season.

Master batsman Kohli smashed 11 fours and two sixes in his 49-ball blitz as hosts Bengaluru chased down their victory target of 177 with four balls to spare against Punjab Kings and bounce back from their loss in the opener of the lucrative T20 tournament.

Kohli fell to fast bowler Harshal Patel in the 16th over and soon Bengaluru lost another wicket before Dinesh Karthik (28) and impact substitute Mahipal Lomror (17) steered the team home in an unbeaten stand of 48 off 18 balls.

Kohli, who missed India’s 4-1 Test series victory over England because of the birth of his second child, has played just two T20 internationals for India since November 2022.

Some critics suggested he is not an automatic selection for this year’s T20 World Cup but Kohli has answered back with this latest knock.

“I know my name is just attached to promoting the game in many parts of the world when it comes to T20 cricket, but still got it I guess,” Kohli told presenter Harsha Bhogle after being named man of the match.

The 35-year-old Kohli spoke about his paternity break.

“We were not in the country. We were at a place where people weren’t recognising us,” said kohli.

“Just to feel normal for two months was a surreal experience. I was telling the guys that the voices got that much louder (back home) which wasn’t the case for the last two months. It was amazing to be another person on the road.”

Bowlers set up victory with pace spearhead Mohammed Siraj and spinner Glenn Maxwell taking two wickets each to keep Punjab down to 176-6 despite skipper Shikhar Dhawan’s 45.

Kohli then took charge after he was dropped on the second ball of the chase by Jonny Bairstow at first slip off Sam Curran.

He capitalised on the spill on nought and hit the left-handed Curran for four boundaries including three successive hits to set up the chase in the first over.

His flowing cover drives, flicks on the on side and behind-the-wicket hits raised the noise at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium as chants of “Kohli, Kohli” filled the air.

“It’s been going on for years,” Kohli said about his love affair with his fans.

“At the end of the day you don’t talk about the achievements, stats or numbers but the memories.

“It’s what (India coach) Rahul Dravid says. The friendship, love, appreciation, backing has been amazing and is what you’ll miss and never forget.”

He raised his 51st IPL fifty in 31 balls and became the third batsman after Chris Gayle and David Warner to score his 100th 50-plus knock in T20 cricket.

Punjab fast bowler Kagiso Rabada struck early with the key wickets of skipper Faf du Plessis and Cameron Green — both the batsmen out on three.

Kohli stood firm but Punjab bowlers got down a few disciplined overs to put the pressure back on Bengaluru, but the star batsman, and later Karthik, ensured victory.

Bengaluru invited Punjab to bat first and struck regular blows after Siraj send Bairstow trudging back to the pavilion for eight.

Batsmen failed to convert starts with Prabhsimran Singh and Curran out for 25 and 23 respectively.

(AFP)

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