South African master AB de Villiers and ex-India captain Virat Kohli share a great friendship after spending ten years together during their stint with the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the IPL. While AB de Villiers retired from all forms of the sport a few years ago, Virat Kohli is still going great guns for Team India and the RCB. Once again, their camaraderie was in the spotlight after the Delhi-born cricketer struck a century against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) this week.
En route to his ton against SRH, Virat Kohli equaled his former teammate Chris Gayle’s record for the most centuries in the IPL. The 34-year-old iconic batter struck his sixth hundred of the premier T20 competition to secure the vital two points for his franchise.
Virat Kohli, who shared a 172-run opening partnership with RCB skipper Faf du Plessis looked in spectacular touch from start to finish as he toyed with SRH’s bowlers, eventually departed for a scintillating 100 off 63 balls.
However, by the time Virat Kohli left the crease, he had sealed the match for RCB as Aiden Markram and his boys had no answer to the former India captain’s onslaught.
From the word go, it looked like Virat Kohli’s night in Hyderabad as he began his knock with two gorgeous drives against Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the opening over of their run chase.
Afterward, there was no looking back for Virat Kohli as the master batter flicked, drove, cut, pulled, and lofted the ball over the boundary, both with elan and comfort.
Virat Kohli’s masterful knock included a massive 103-meter six that went miles into the stands.
With his century against SRH, Virat Kohli drew level with Chris Gayle for the most tons in IPL history. Both players have six three-figure scores in the event.
Also, India’s most successful Test captain went past Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul to become the Indian batter with the most T20 hundreds to his name. While Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul have six centuries each in the format, Virat Kohli took his tally to seven. While he has scored six in the IPL, the ex-India skipper made one for Team India in the Asia Cup last year.
Before his knock against SRH, he came in for heavy criticism for his slow batting in IPL 2023, with even RCB hopefuls taking a dig at him multiple times. Some went on to say that Virat Kohli was batting like a Test match specialist in T20 cricket.
But after watching his batting display against SRH, several former cricketers, including AB de Villiers, bowed down to Virat Kohli for producing the goods when his side RCB needed him the most.
After RCB’s victory over SRH, AB de Villiers tweeted, “VIRAAAAAAAAAAAT” along with three flexed biceps emojis.
“Top knock from Faf too. Great partnership! This team looks hungry. I’m excited,” AB de Villiers added.
Meanwhile, Virat Kohli blasted his critics, saying he knows his capabilities and could score runs quickly when needed.
“Quite special considering the magnitude of the game. We saw the ball was gripping in the middle. We wanted a solid start but did not expect to be 172 for no loss. That’s how well Faf and I have played, he’s been on a different level. I had a quiet couple of games and wasn’t hitting as well in the game as I was in the nets. My intent from ball 1 was to go after the bowlers. There was a dip but I wanted to take it up in the right time. Happy that it all came together nicely,” Virat Kohli told former India wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta in the post-match presentation ceremony.
“I was telling the boys – the way I’m looked at as an IPL player as well is like ‘yeah, he’s fine, a few impact knocks’. But it’s my 6th IPL hundred. I don’t give enough credit to myself. I never look at past records (not great numbers against SRH).”
“I put myself under so much stress already. I don’t care what anyone says on the outside, because that’s their opinion. It’s like… when you are in that situation yourself, you know how to win games of cricket and I’ve done that for a long period of time. It’s not like I don’t win games for my team. It’s playing the situation (that) I take pride in,” he added.
“I’ve never been a guy who plays so many fancy shots and throws my wicket away. It’s Test cricket (coming up) after the IPL, so I have to stay true to my technique. When I can make impact in an important game, it gives me confidence, and gives the team confidence,” The RCB icon concluded.
On the other hand, Australian great Ricky Ponting, RCB head coach Sanjay Bangar, and wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik said that Virat Kohli’s recent form has been impressive.
“What a fabulous inning for Virat, the moment he scored a boundary in the first over itself, you knew something special was brewing up and he just continued. Some of the shots he played, he silenced a lot of critics who say that he can’t play big shots,” Sanjay Bangar stated.
“It has been a long time waiting, we all feel that it was just around the corner and it’s just so good to see him bat the way he did. Take on the bowlers, he is just brilliant and to watch him play the shots he did was outstanding,” Dinesh Karthik said in praise of Virat Kohli.
“I caught up with Virat about a month ago when we played them in Bangalore. I had a good chat with him about his batting and where he was at in his career. And he said to me then that he actually feels like he’s almost back to his absolute best,” the ex-Australian skipper revealed.
“You probably saw that last night, you know, he’s had a very good IPL and I’m sure he’ll be the prize wicket that all the Australians are looking are looking forward to,” Ricky Ponting signed off.