Even as the Bangalore Royal Challengers became the first IPL team to make it to the semi-finals of the Champions League T20, one man would have been mightily relieved. Virat Kohli did not manage to take Bangalore past the finish line against the Mumbai Indians, but did well enough to knock Sachin Tendulkar’s team out and keep his side in the hunt. And against the Lions, he went one step ahead, leading the team to victory, as Bangalore marched their way into the final four.
For Kohli, it was a matter of turning from culprit to hero. He nearly messed things up for Bangalore during their chase of 160, before brining them right back on track.
Kohli first ran out key man Robin Uthappa in the 15th over of the innings, and then failed to make much contact with the ball in the next over. For some inexplicable reason, Bangalore had not gone for the kill from the word go and they seemed in eminent danger of being knocked out. However, this was when Kohli made amends, and in the best way possible. Over 40 were required from the last four overs when Kohli smashed Ethan O’Reilly for two sixes and a four. Bangalore’s chase was back on track with those three big hits as they cantered home.
The win also meant that Kohli had put behind the past and conquered the present. The image of him on his haunches, being consoled by Rahul Dravid, who himself must have been heartbroken having batted through the innings in the defeat, will be looked upon as a poignant moment of this tournament. But with having managed to pull Bangalore out of the hole, and more importantly guide them in to the semi-finals, Kohli would now have some happy memories going into the final four. Also, the close win would mean Bangalore would be better prepared for the bigger challenges ahead, even as the loss of Jacques Kallis would be a major setback.
Another key component in Bangalore’s win was the performance of their skipper Anil Kumble. His magical spell of 1/13 from his four overs meant Lions were restricted to just a respectable total. Bringing all his experience into play, the former Indian skipper did not give any room to the batsmen and ensured they were strangled for runs. Like Kohli, he also was looking for redemption, having dropped Dwayne Bravo in the previous game, which allowed Mumbai to come back into the match, and go on to win it. Here, he was on top of the game with both ball and as skipper.
Kumble’s introduction of Kohli in the bowling attack managed to stem the flow of runs from both ends, following the unlucky run out of Vaughan van Jaarsveld, who slipped while trying to make his ground. As the pressure mounted, Kumble sent back top-scorer Alviro Petersen, who missed a slog sweep.
The two Ks continued to choke Neil McKenzie, who was making a comeback. Even though the former South African opener managed to score at just over a run a ball, it wasn’t enough to help Lions maintain the momentum. In the end, it needed a rollicking Robert Frylinck to take them to a decent score. However, they couldn’t keep down an inspired Bangalore, despite a spirited challenge in the field as well.
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