Pune, April 27
In Royal Challengers Bangalore's match against Rajasthan Royals at Pune, Virat Kohli had escaped being dismissed thrice in the opening over. A flick off Trent Boult fell short of square leg. Another flick went for four and got another boundary through an inner edge.
Two more edges and three dot balls later, Kohli tried a pull off Prasidh Krishna, only for the edge to be caught by Riyan Parag running in from backward point. Kohli's last five IPL 2022 innings tally read as — 9 (10), 0 (1), 0 (1), 12 (14), and 1 (3). The now-often seen wry smile appeared again on Kohli's face as he walked off and didn't even wait for the umpire to give him out.
After Bangalore faced its second successive defeat by 29 runs, head coach Sanjay Bangar insisted that the star batter has the gumption to come out of his lean run and put in "better performance" in future matches of the ongoing tournament.
"Regarding Kohli's form, he's a great cricketer. He's experienced these highs and lows many times before. I've observed him from close quarters. He has the spirit and he'll emerge from this run of low scores in the last two-three games. In the coming crucial games, he'll help us win," said Bangar in the post-match virtual press conference.
Bangar, who had also served as India's batting coach, revealed that there was nothing different about the chats he's had with Kohli in the practice sessions. "We aren't talking about anything different (in nets), to be honest. The way he prepares, he always puts himself out of comfort zone and prepares and that's his specialty."
He further expressed confidence in Kohli's mental strength to find a way of breaking his lean patch. "This is why he (Kohli) can emerge from tough situations and his attitude is very commendable. Yes, he's had a low run of scores in the last two-three matches. But he is so mentally strong, he'll be able to put in a better performance in upcoming crucial matches."
Earlier, skipper Faf du Plessis also backed Kohli to get back to form in the upcoming matches despite continued poor showings. "We discussed it after the previous match, thinking of ways of trying to get the best out of Virat. Great players go through things like this and great characters have to find a way to get through it."
Asked about the logic in getting Kohli to open in place of an off-colour Anuj Rawat, du Plessis explained, "Our thinking was to get him into the game straight away so he doesn't sit on the side and almost think too much about the game. He's a fantastic cricketer. We still back him that he will turn it around and it's just the case of getting a good start and feeling one or two balls hit the middle of the bat. It's a game of confidence, so hopefully that will be around the corner for us too."
Bangalore are currently at fifth place in the points table, with 10 points from nine matches. Their next match will be against Gujarat Titans on April 30 at Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai.