Bengaluru, May 21 (IANS): Talismanic batter Virat Kohli slammed his second hundred of IPL 2023, coming in as many innings, and carried his bat through the innings to power Royal Challengers Bangalore to a competitive 197/5 against Gujarat Titans in a must-win clash at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday.
Right from the word go, Kohli hit ground running after a long wait of 55 minutes for the game to start due to rain and unleashed a masterclass in front of a hugely supportive home crowd through his unbeaten 101 off 61 balls, also his seventh IPL hundred.
He mesmerised everyone with his magical bottom-handed shots, controlled footwork and usage of wrists to hit 13 fours and a six at a strike-rate of 165.6, taking the side to a big total despite wickets falling around him, and went off the field to a rousing standing ovation from the crowd.
Pushed into batting first, Bangalore were kept under control in the first two overs, before Faf du Plessis went after Mohammed Shami, hitting four boundaries in the third over. A slice over mid-off was followed by mistimed pull and thick inside edge, before the 16-run over ended with lifting over mid-on.
Kohli joined the boundary-hitting party by flicking and pulling twice for three well-timed boundaries, before du Plessis ended the over by lofting over mid-off for four to end fourth over by taking 17 runs. Kohli took a four each off Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad to end power-play at 62/0.
But the stadium was silenced in the eighth over when du Plessis went for loft off Noor, only for the bottom edge to go past the keeper and lobbed up for the slip to take an easy catch. Glenn Maxwell began powerfully with a six and four off the left-arm spinner, but was castled by a Rashid googly while trying to drive off him.
Noor stuck again when he enticed Mahipal Lomror to come out for a flick. But the ball went past him down leg and Wriddhiman Saha moved swiftly to stump the batter. Kohli smashed a drive past long-off, before reaching his fifty in 35 balls. He found support from Michael Bracewell, who began with three crisp boundaries through the off-side.
Kohli slammed Mohit over extra cover for four, before Bracewell capitalised on his slower deliveries to pick consecutive boundaries in a 15-run 13th over. Bracewell's handy knock came to an end when the top-edge on a miscue was caught by Shami off his own bowling and Dinesh Karthik fell for a golden duck off Dayal when the bouncer took a glove edge behind.
Kohli led Bangalore's recovery by cutting wide of cover and square-driving with perfection off Mohit for a brace of fours in the 16th over. He welcomed Dayal by swivelling hard over deep mid-wicket for six, before clipping him for four.
Kohli flicked sweetly and pulled off Shami for a brace of fours, before reaching his century off 60 balls in the final over, where Anuj Rawat flicked Mohit for six and got a four off a misfield.
Brief Scores: Royal Challengers Bangalore 197/5 in 20 overs (Virat Kohli 101 not out; Noor Ahmad 2/39) against Gujarat Titans