It took him time but Virat Kohli finally hit form, his unbeaten 72 off 53 balls forming the crux of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s successful chase of the 155-run target set by Rajasthan Royals. Kohli and youngster Devdutt Padikkal peeled off a half-century each, comfortably fashioning an eight-win win, a victory that sees them go top in the IPL 2020 Points Table.
The fact that RCB restricted the Royals to 154/6 wouldn’t have been possible with Yuzvendra Chahal, who continued his brilliant show this season and finished with 3/24, the second time he’s claimed a three-wicket haul in four matches. With the first game of Saturday’s double-header being a day affair, Steve Smith opted to bat, but soon saw his team struggling at 31/3 with himself, Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson falling in quick succession.
Robin Uthappa tried but his painstaking 22-ball 17 only made the scoring tough for the Royals. Mahipal Lomror, who replaced Ankit Rajput in the side, kept the innings alive and top scored with 47 off 39 balls, including three sixes off Chahal. The fourth six he attempted landed straight down Padikkal’s throat at long off.
With RCB spinners tightening the screws on RR’s scoring, it was once again up to Rahul Tewatia to offer a late push to the innings, which he did scoring 24* off 12 balls, including three sixes. Archer remained not out on 16 off 10 but it was enough to take RR past the 150-run margin, which looked unlikely at one stage.
Beginning their chase, Aaron Finch struck a couple of well-timed boundaries before balling LBW to Shreyas Gopal, a review coming to aid RR. But Padikkal did not look back once he dispatched the second ball he faced, over deep midwicket. He and Kohli steadied the RCB innings batting steadily. The two milked singles, cutting down the boundary hitting shots and yet maintained the asking rate. It took Kohli time to get in the groove, but once he did, he never stopped. After reaching his half-century off 34 balls, a tired Padikkal was cleaned up by Archer.
Kohli, however, did not tired, and along with AB de Villiers, ran fiercely hard between the wickets. Once the equation became relatively easier, the RCB captain brought out the kind of shots that make him one of the most feared batsmen in the world. Reaching his half-century off 40 balls, Kohli sported a long due smile on his face. He struck back-to-back boundaries before de Villiers scored the winning runs.