It's great time to regroup and restructure for the next three years: Virat Kohli
It was the D-day at Sharjah. The Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders locked horns to decide who would progress to the further stage of the tournament. With everything on the line, this Royal Knight affair promised to be a cracker of a contest.
Captain Kohli won the toss and elected to bat first in the eliminator. Going unchanged with the same balanced eleven was one of the talking points of RCB's decision making in the business end of IPL 2021.
The Royal Challengers had a solid start, but the KKR spinners put the speed breakers on in the middle-overs. Sunil Narine picked up four important wickets to ensure RCB did not go over the 150-run mark. Even though we posted a respectable total on the board, it looked like we were short of 15-20 odd runs. Kolkata too had got off to a decent start, but Harshal Patel delivered a breakthrough in the last over of the powerplay by dismissing Shubman Gill. Our bowlers did manage to put some brakes on the mid-way stage and picked up wickets at crucial phases, but unfortunately, it was too little too late. In the end, it was KKR who went an extra mile and sealed a 4-wicket win.
The highlight reel of our tournament has been the bowling department, comprising Harshal, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Mohammed Siraj, who upheld the challenger spirit and didn't back down without giving a fight. They fought till the very end. The Haryana pacer extended his purple cap lead to 32 scalps, equalling the all-time record held by Dwayne Bravo for the most number of wickets in an IPL season.
Virat Kohli's nine-year-reign as the RCB captain comes to an end on an emotional note.
"I think those middle overs where their spinners dominated the game was the difference. They kept bowling in tight areas and kept picking wickets. We had a great start and it was about quality bowling and not bad batting. They thoroughly deserve to win this one and be in the next round. The fight till the end with the ball has been the hallmark of our team. That one big over (22 runs) in the middle deflated our chances. We fought till the last over and made an amazing game out of it. 15 runs less with the bat and a couple of big overs with the ball cost us. Sunil Narine has always been a quality bowler and today he once again showed it. Shakib, Varun and him created pressure and didn't allow our batsmen to get away in the middle," Virat Kohli was quoted as saying at the post-match presentation.
Speaking at the post-match presentation, the 33-year-old talked about his future with the team and how he intends to contribute to the team's cause by playing in a different role.
"I have tried my best to create a culture here where youngsters could come in and play with freedom and belief. It is something I have done with India as well. I have given my best. I don't know how the response has been, but I have given 120% to this franchise every time, which is something I will now do as a player. It is a great time to regroup and restructure for the next three years with people who will take this ahead. [On him staying with RCB] Yes definitely, I don't see myself playing anywhere else. Loyalty matters more to me than worldly pleasures. I would be in the RCB till the last day I play in the IPL," the skipper concluded.