Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli has admitted their batting can be “more brave in pockets”, referring to their cautious approach after they were put in to bat in their last league game against the Delhi Capitals. The Royal Challengers, who qualified for the playoffs despite a loss on Monday, were 40 for 1 after the powerplay and only 60 for 1 at the halfway mark. They then put on a more respectable 152 for 7, mainly thanks to AB de Villiers’ 35 off 21 and Shivam Dube’s 17 off 11, who helped them collect 62 from the last six overs.
“We can be more brave with the bat in pockets,” Kohli said to the host broadcaster at the post-match presentation. “With the ball we were decent, [we could] probably have a stronger powerplay as well which has been our strength in the games that we won. If we implement those things well, we’ll be on the right side of the result. But it’s important to stay positive and take what you can from these games because we have two shots at reaching the final.”
When asked if his batsmen have been “cautious” in the first half of the innings throughout the tournament, Kohli said: “Just before qualification, yes the mindset could have been a little tentative but this opens up the mindset completely now. We’ve got two games to reach the finals; we have a shot, we have an opportunity and that’s what you want as a team.”
Kohli himself has not been at his best this IPL, ending the league stage with a strike rate of 122 for his 460 runs from 14 innings. It has been evident that Kohli has not been able to bat with the same rhythm and freedom which helped him strike at 141.46 in IPL 2019, and at 139 in the 2018 edition. One of the reasons behind that dip could be the bigger boundaries and the slower pitches in the UAE compared to the flatter and shorter Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, and the other could be that Kohli doesn’t want to take as many risks initially on such tracks with the lack of experience in the middle order after de Villiers.
While defending 152, the Royal Challengers had to make sure the Capitals didn’t finish the chase before 17.3 overs otherwise the Royal Challengers would have ended at fourth place on Monday, one below the Kolkata Knight Riders, and could have been eliminated if the Mumbai Indians lost to the Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday. Kohli said they “controlled” the middle overs “really well” to force the Capitals to go as deep as the 19th over to seal victory.
“You come to games to try and get a result your way,” he said. “Through probably the 11th over the 17.3-mark [qualification scenario] was informed by the management. Even if the game’s drifting away from you, we controlled that middle phase really well where they could have taken the game away from us. We’re just happy we’ve qualified. Obviously, top two would have been really nice but I think we’ve played good enough cricket in this tournament to get a qualification spot.”