CHENNAI: WHEN Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Faf du Plessis opted to bat against Gujarat Titans, without a doubt, all eyes were on Virat Kohli. After scores of 0, 0 and 9, the anticipation for what’s in store only got higher. And it could have come to an end with another duck on the very second delivery as Kohli’s foot went nowhere for a full-length outswinger from Mohammed Shami that squared him up. But, he survived.
The next one was too full and a Kohli off-drive followed to get him off the mark. And with Shami struggling to find his line after that, he secured another boundary in the same over. While Du Plessis got out to Pradeep Sangwan, Shami came back stronger, testing Kohli. A sharp bouncer took the top edge for four. Kohli was scoring runs, and it seemed like luck was on his side. Was this going to be the day?
It seemed like it when he welcomed Alzarri Joseph with a whip through midwicket, followed by a punch through extra cover for boundaries. He had raced to 24 off 18 balls. But then came the hurdles. In the next 13 balls he faced — predominantly off Rashid Khan and Lockie Ferguson — Kohli managed just nine runs. The shots through off-side were still coming, but he was consistently finding the fielders.
While Kohli was struggling to get going, at the other end was Rajat Patidar, who came in as injury replacement for Luvnith Sisodia, playing the T20 format as one should. Right from ball one, Patidar showed intent. His first boundary came off Joseph, punching Sangwan down the ground. He also took on Gujarat’s best bowler — Rashid — for a maximum, cruising to 25 off 17. And it rubbed off on Kohli as well, as he pulled out his short-arm jab against Ferguson and then a loft over point.
After 11 overs, they were 87 for one, there were two contrasting innings being played out. Kohli was 45 from 41 while Patidar 40 off 21 balls. It was a perfect chance for both to accelerate. Over the next three overs, both would bring up their first fifties of the season. While Kohli got there in 45 balls, Patidar did in 29.
It was not just the strike that was the difference. There was an innate difference in the way they approached the innings. Patidar got out, trying to put his foot on the accelerator for a 32-ball 52. At the other end was Kohli, who seemed to be back in a shell, searching for timing. He couldn't hit a boundary off the last 17 balls he faced, before getting out for 58 from 53 balls. Kohli might have got back amongst runs, but it came at a cost. RCB’s 170 for six wasn’t enough in the end as they faced their third successive defeat, losing to Titans by six wickets.