IPL 2024: Following match-winning knock against PBKS, Virat opens up on family, hiatus, his place and approach in T20s

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India]: Following his side’s win over Punjab Kings (PBKS) in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match, star Royal Challengers Bengaluru batter Virat Kohli opened up on his hiatus from the sport due to birth of his son and how his name is being used to promote the sport’s shortest format ahead of ICC T20 World Cup in West Indies this year.

The vintage Virat finally came back to full flow, guiding RCB to a tough run-chase with his knock off 77 in 49 balls, while Dinesh Karthik and Mahipal Lomror put up a fantastic finishing performance, much to the delight of Chinaswammy Stadium crowd. Virat won the Player of the Match award.

Speaking after the match, Virat, who also missed the Test series against England due to his son’s birth, said, “We were not in the country. We were at a place where people weren’t recognizing us. Just to feel normal for two months was a surreal experience. Of course, things become totally different with two kids from a family perspective. Just being together, the connection with the older kid too is amazing. I could not have been more grateful to God for the opportunity that I got to spend time with the family. It was amazing to be another person on the road.”

Virat also acknowledged that his name is being used to promote T20 cricket, that too amid the chatter about his T20 batting approach and said that he has “still got it”. He said while he tries to start of well, he has to play as per conditions and opened up on his knock a little further.

“I know my name is often used to just promote the T20 game across the world when it comes to T20 cricket these days but still got it I guess,” said Virat.

“In T20, I am opening, I try to give the team a blazing start. But when wickets start falling, you have to understand the conditions as well. The wicket wasn’t as placid as normal here. It was a bit two-paced. Had to play correct cricketing shots, could not hit balls across the line. Tried a few, felt like I needed big hits at the other end, which did not happen as Maxi (Glenn Maxwell) and Anuj Rawat) got out quickly.”

“Disappointed not having finished it off. It was a slot ball that I sliced straight to deep point. Not bad though playing after two months and getting into the tournament,” he concluded his point.

Talking about targetting pacers, he said, “I had to, bowlers know I play the cover drive pretty well. So they won’t allow me to hit gaps. Guys like KG (Kagiso Rabada) and Arshdeep, if they are hitting length, you have to create momentum, once you are closer to the ball you negate the bounce. You have to come up with a game plan and try to keep improving.”
Talking about love from the Bengaluru crowd, Virat expressed, “It has been going on for years. People talk a lot about playing the sport. At the end of the day you do not talk about the achievements, stats or numbers but the memories. It is what Rahul Dravid says. The friendship, love, appreciation, backing has been amazing and is what you will miss and never forget.”

Coming to the match, put to field by RCB, Punjab Kings (PBKS) saw their batters getting starts but none of them could convert it into something big. Skipper Shikhar Dhawan (45 in 37 balls with five fours and a six), Jitesh Sharma (27 in 20 balls with a four and two sixes) and Sam Curran (23 in 17 balls) played decent knocks, but on a batting friendly Chinnaswammy, PBKS could muster only 176/6 in 20 overs.

Mohammed Siraj (2/26) and Glenn Maxwell (2/29) took two scalps each. Yash Dayal and Alzarri Joseph took a wicket each.
In the chase of 177, RCB continued to lose wickets at regular intervals, but Virat (77 in 49 balls, with 11 fours and two sixes) held the ship steady at the other end. After his dismissal, things got tricky for RCB, but finishing from Dinesh Karthik (28* in 10 balls, with three fours and two sixes) and Mahipal Lomror (17* in eight balls, with two fours and a six) guided the team to a four-wicket win with four balls left.

Harpreet Brar (2/13) and Kagiso Rabada (2/23) were the pick of the bowlers for PBKS. 

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