Royal Challengers Bangalore made it to the IPL 2022 playoffs despite a negative net run rate after Mumbai Indians did them a huge favour. On Saturday, the five-time champions defeated Delhi Capitals to let the RCB through to the Eliminator where they will face Lucknow Super Giants at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday.
Royal Challengers Bangalore are the only team to reached the playoffs in three successive years despite a negative NRR. They were on 16 points after 14 matches this season and DC only had to beat MI to move into the last-four. Lucky RCB.
In 2021, RCB were 3rd on the points table with an NRR of -0.14 but they had 18 points, 4 more than 4th placed KKR. It was tricker in 2020 when RCB somehow made it to the Eliminator despite losing their last four matches. They NRR of -0.172 was fractionally better than Kolkata Knight Riders’ -0.214 despite being tied at 14 points.
Royal Challengers Bangalore will be charged-up on Wednesday. At least, they should be. Their social media handles had shared pictures of celebrations after MI’s victory over DC in the weekend. Now, it is time to focus on the match in hand.
And it is also time to focus on Virat Kohli.
Six years ago, Virat Kohli had smashed IPL records to score 973 runs and hit 4 hundreds so RCB could reach the final. The following year, they finished last and in 2018, RCB won only 6 out of their 14 matches and were 6th on the points table.
This season, Virat Kohli had a horror run and nothing he seemd to try worked for him until that last league game against Gujarat Titans. It was a must-win game for RCB and Kohli smashed a classy 73 and then sat with the rest of his teammates to cheer for Mumbai Indians.,
After winning the man-of-the-mactch award, Virat Kohli said he had batted for 90 minutes at the nets on the eve of the game against the Titans. He addressed the conversation over his poor form in interviews leading up to the game and conceded he was open to the idea of a break.
When the India squad was announced for the South Africa T20I series, Virat Kohli along with Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah were rested. It’s unlikely any of these three would travel to Ireland for the 2 T20Is which means there will be added motivation for Kohli to finish on a high and enjoy his break before the tour of England.
This is an important year for Indian cricket and Virat Kohli has already expressed his desire to help India win the Asia and T20 World Cups. Before he get there, Kohli would want to make an impact for RCB as they seek to bring home their first IPL trophy.
Of course, there are other match-winners in that RCB unit. Faf du Plessis has played some gems this summer and Glenn Maxwell was on fire against Gujarat Titans. And then there’s Dinesh Karthik whose explosive batting in the IPL forced the selectors to name him in the Indian T20I squad.
But onus will be on Virat Kohli who wears the match-winner’s tag with pride. The runs have been hard to come by this summer but he looked in great touch last week. Can he step up and deliver? RCB are just one defeat away from elimination and only three victories away from their first IPL title after a lucky break.
Virat Kohli is the highest run-scorer in the IPL. He led RCB for nearly a decade but this season should give him added motivation after stepping down as skipper. It’s the last mile for RCB in IPL 2022 and they would want to be in Ahmedabad for the final and for that to happen, they need Virat Kohli to do it for them.