Virat Kohli celebrates his century against GT yesterday. Pic/AFP
Mumbai Indians' annihilation of Sunrisers Hyderabad earlier in the afternoon had left Royal Challengers Bangalore in a must-win situation going into the final league fixture of IPL 2023. To add to the pressure, a massive afternoon downpour and steady drizzle through the evening delayed the start of their game against table-toppers Gujarat Titans at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday.
The 55-minute wait for the start of play seemed to make no difference to Virat Kohli, who took it upon himself to shepherd his team to a total that would allow his bowlers to be competitive later in the night. In another excellent exhibition of glorious stroke-making, the former skipper became only the third batsman in IPL history, after Shikhar Dhawan and Jos Buttler, to notch up hundreds in consecutive matches.
His unbeaten 101, coming on the back of an even 100 against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Thursday, muscled Bangalore to 197 for five, despite two stutters that might have been decisive on another evening. His comrades in arms during three meaningful partnerships at various stages of the innings were skipper Faf du Plessis (67 for the first wicket), Michael Bracewell (47 for the fourth) and Anuj Rawat (64' for the sixth), but this night was all about Kohli and his unwavering focus even as wickets fell at the other end.
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Du Plessis made light of losing a crucial toss with four fours in the third over of the innings, from Mohammed Shami, and Kohli followed suit with three in the next over, from Yash Dayal. With only five specialist bowlers in the mix, Hardik Pandya was forced to summon both his Afghan spinners, Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad, inside the Powerplay, and while there was no immediate respite, both wrist-spinners struck in their respective second overs to evict du Plessis and the dangerous-looking Glenn Maxwell.
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