Prior to match 19 of the 2016 Indian Premier League against Gujarat Lions, Virat Kohli had 42 half-centuries to his name in T20s from 192 matches, out of which 15 fifties came in 43 T20 internationals. A player who is an absolute run-machine, be it any format, having a zero in the 100s columns sure was surprising stat for Virat Kohli. But Kohli being Kohli, rectified the aberration smashing an unbeaten 100 off just 63 balls on Sunday to power Royal Challengers Bangalore to 180 for 2 against Gujarat Lions at Rajkot.
It is no secret that Kohli has been in marauding form with the bat since the turn of the year, well actually even since his burst in to international scene, but that is a discussion for some other time. Sample this: In his last ten T20 innings Kohli’s run-sequence has been his 23, 55*, 24, 82*, 89*, 75, 79, 33, 80 100*. That is 640 runs at an average of 107. The last five has come in ongoing IPL.
He has been part of over 100-run stand on four occasions in those five matches – three of them with South African superman AB de Villiers and today’s big partnership (121) came in the company of of KL Rahul, who scored his maiden IPL fifty off 34 balls. Before this match, Virat Kohli’s highest score was 99 that had come against Delhi Daredevils in 2013. In that innings Kohli was unbeaten on 76 with one over to go and he plonked Umesh Yadav for two fours and two sixes only to find himself run-out off the last ball to depart for 99. Kohli found himself in a simpler situation on Sunday. With one over left Kohli was on 85 and he took and six and four off Dwayne Bravo and in the last ball eked one over backward point for a four to reach the landmark.
Opening the batting, Kohli had lost his new opening partner Shane Watson in the second over before he combined with his favourite partner in crime, de Villiers for 52 runs in six overs. Departure of de Villiers for 20 lead to a dip in the RCB run-rate. Rahul then took his time to settle in, but Kohli kept the scoreboard ticking to reach his fifty off 40 balls. Rahul then got in to the act taking Kulkarni for two sixes and hitting Praveen Kumar for two fours. That was the cure needed for Kohli to unleash and he did that in style scoring his next 49 runs in just 23 balls and end the innings on high hodling his arms aloft after removing his helmet. During his knock, consisting of one six and 11 fours, he also became the proud owner of the Orange Cap, given to leading run-getter of the tournament.
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