Kolkata: Mumbai Indians had scripted one of the most remarkable comebacks in IPL history when they won nine of their last 10 matches last year to lift the crown. Royal Challengers Bangalore are on a similar path this season, even as they seem to fly on one wing.
AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli. Imaging/Uday Mohite
With their bowlers unable to contain opposing batsmen, it has been left almost entirely to RCB's powerful batsmen to keep hopes alive.
"Those two guys are playing like Batman and Superman. They are in the form of their life, Virat in particular," gushed Chris Gayle as Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers followed up Saturday's 229-run partnership against the Gujarat Lions with one of 115 on Monday to tame Kolkata Knight Riders in their den.
Defeat to Rohit Sharma & Co in Bangalore last week had, in Kohli's own words, "made the equation very simple". RCB had to win their remaining four games to make the play-offs. If the message in the MI huddle was "play every match as you would a final", Kohli summed up the RCB attitude after the loss to Mumbai with "I love the situation", pointing out that they have no other option but to win. It's now two down, two to go.
"They mustn't ease up. They are doing a phenomenal job, and under pressure," added the big Jamaican, who came back from a string of low scores with a 31-ball 49. "If we do sneak into the play-offs there will be danger for other teams," Gayle warned.
Gayle's 733 in 2012 was the record for the most runs in an IPL season. Kohli displaced him on Monday by taking his tally to 752. Congratulating his skipper, and pointing out that Kohli can actually get close to 1,000 runs this season, Gayle was effusive in his praise. "He's never satisfied; he always wants to better his last performance," Gayle said.
"When you're in good form, you need to cash in. It's not always about power-hitting; it's about timing and shot selection too. He's very fit (and it shows) in his running between wickets and fielding. He's a complete cricketer."
Injury worry for Virat
Kohli batted with an injured left hand after splitting the web in trying to take a catch. Saying it may require "seven to eight stitches" during the post-match TV interview, Kohli left the stadium early to have it attended to.
Andre Russell's injury, sustained in the 19th over of the RCB chase, looked worse. The KKR all-rounder fell in his follow-through and had to be helped out of the field by two members of the support staff.