PUNE: At the MCA International Stadium here on Friday, Virat Kohli rued his bad luck after losing out on his fourth consecutive toss in IPL 2016 and was put into bat by Rising Pune Supergiants skipper M S Dhoni. "I think I need to send someone else for the toss; not a good stat that," the Royal Challengers Bangalore captain said.
But the fact that RCB are the only team to have won an IPL 2016 tie defending their total -- 15 matches into the new season -- must have been running in the back of Kohli's mind as he walked into open the innings with K L Rahul. If there is one team that can break the hoodoo of the chasing team winning the game, it is his side with arguably the best batting line-up in the planet.
The Royals handed a debut for South African chinaman Tabraiz Shamsi who was flown in for the injured Samuel Badree while Travis Head returned to the pavilion being replaced by Mandeep Singh. Dhoni's only change was dropping Irfan Pathan to the bench in favour of Rajat Bhatia.
Rahul went early swooped up by Ishant Sharma at the third man from a Thisara Perera delivery in the fourth over, but that was to blessing in disguise for RCB as it united the dangerous duo of Kohli and AB de Villiers in the middle. After keeping the scoreboard ticking till the halfway without further damage, de Villiers took charge.
Murugan Ashwin was the victim as the South African hit the leg-spinner out of the park twice in the 11th over and in the next over slashed his namesake Ravichandran Ashwin to the boundary to bring up his half-century from 25 balls. RCB raced to 122 in 14 overs before R Ashwin, Rajat Bhatia and Ankit Sharma brought down the flow of runs in the short-term.
However, Kohli, who was let off after being dropped on 50 by Ankit, joined the party as he and de Villiers brought up the 100 partnership in 69 balls before the duo departed in the final over having helped RCB post a formidable total of 185 for the Supergiants to chase down.
But with their bowling attack being exposed as the weak link during the previous matches, the Kohli-led team will still have their work cut out against a Pune batting line-up comprising among other no less than Faf du Plessis, Kevin Pietersen, Steven Smith and talismanic captain Dhoni himself.