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KKR vs RCB, IPL 2021, eliminator – ‘Given my 120% to this franchise every year’

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Says he will continue to play only for RCB as “my commitment is to this franchise till the last day I play the IPL”

Virat Kohli‘s IPL captaincy stint with Royal Challengers Bangalore, spanning 11 seasons, 2011 to 2021, came to an end on Monday with his team bowing out of IPL 2021 in the eliminator. While he might have endured as many losses as victories in his time in charge (140 games, 64 wins, 69 losses, three ties, four no-results), through the ups and downs, Kohli said, he had given his all to the franchise as a leader, and tried to create an environment that let players express themselves.

“I’ve tried my best to create a culture here where youngsters could come in and play expressive cricket, play with belief. It’s something I’ve tried to do at the Indian team level as well,” Kohli told host broadcaster Star Sports after the four-wicket defeat, Kolkata Knight Riders having squeezed home with two balls to spare in a chase of 139. “All I can say is that I’ve given my best. I don’t know how the response has been to that, but I can vouch for the fact that I’ve given my 120% to this franchise every year, leading the team.

“And as I said, I will continue to give that effort on the field as a player from now on. It’s a great time to regroup, restructure the franchise for the next three years, and bring in people who can take this culture and this franchise to the next level, moving forward.”

Kohli reiterated that he will continue to play for only Royal Challengers in the IPL. “As I said, I don’t see myself playing anywhere else. To me loyalty matters more than other things which, from the worldly point of view, seem more important. This franchise has believed in me and my commitment is to this franchise till the last day I play the IPL.”

While Royal Challengers finished fourth in IPL 2021, still looking for their first title win, they had a largely successful season. They had nine wins in 14 games in the league stage, and only missed out on a top-two finish to Chennai Super Kings on net run rate. They also had several players putting together outstanding seasons. Chief among them was pacer Harshal Patel, who ended with 32 wickets, the joint-highest in an IPL season.

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WATCH - Sunil Narine's game-changing spell

WATCH – Sunil Narine’s game-changing spell

Harshal credited Kohli and the Royal Challengers management for his growth as a bowler, and said that while Kohli will not be the captain anymore, he will always remain a leader within the franchise.

“Obviously every one knows the kind of energy and passion Virat brings to the field. He backs bowlers, gives them their space, allows them to execute their skills and plans. So I’m very thankful to him,” Harshal said. “I’ve learned a lot playing with him, since I think 2012. In terms of his captaincy, there are captains and there are leaders, and he’s definitely a leader. Just because he won’t have the tag of a captain doesn’t make him any less of a leader.



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Recent Match Report – RCB vs KKR Eliminator 2021

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It was one of the great IPL all-round performances, as Narine’s 4 for 21 and 15-ball 26 swung, and changed, the match

Kolkata Knight Riders 139 for 6 (Gill 29, Narine 26, Iyer 26, Chahal 2-16, Harshal 2-19, Siraj 2-19) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 138 for 7 (Kohli 39, Narine 4-21, Ferguson 2-30) by four wickets

Three balls of Sunil Narine, with the bat, changed the game, putting Kolkata Knight Riders one step closer to the IPL final.

It was tough though. Royal Challengers Bangalore were defending a total of 138 with fearsome spirit.

The score was 80 for 3 in the 12th over. The Sharjah slowdown was well and truly on. On this pitch an equation that reads 59 from 51 can be dicey. You can’t leave it too late. Too many variables. So Knight Riders sent in their pinch hitter and he went 6, 6, (wide) and 6.

Three balls of Narine changed the game. Twenty-four balls earlier had set it up. Royal Challengers actually had a solid powerplay – 53 for 1 at 8.8. Then he came on and the runs dried up. Only 60 came off the next 11 overs. 60 for 4 at 5.45.

Narine Sublime
Virat Kohli. Clean bowled. AB de Villiers. Clean Bowled. Glenn Maxwell. Completely deceived. Most people need a cheat code and a computer screen to pull that off. Narine doesn’t. He imposed video game logic on this real life game and turned it in Knight Riders’ favour.

Pressure was mounting on Kohli. He had slowed down once again after the powerplay – 24 off 16 and 15 off 17 – and his desperation was apparent. Narine knew that in these situations, batters often forget about the basics and just swing across the line. Even one as good as Kohli was susceptible to this weakness as a straightforward offbreak sneaked through his defences.

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WATCH - Sunil Narine clobbers three back-to-back sixes

WATCH – Narine clobbers three back-to-back sixes

Taking down the big boys
Doing de Villiers required a bit more subtlety. Royal Challengers’ talisman had come out with a plan. It involved thrusting his front foot outside off stump to eliminate lbw, and playing across it. Narine, though, spotted the smallest gap between bat and pad and he targeted it with missile-like precision. Pace, drift, length and spin – everything came together as de Villiers played all around an offbreak and lost his middle stump.

That only left Maxwell. And having to do all the heavy lifting with time running out and the spinners closing in, even those invincible sweep shots of his suddenly looked not quite invincible. Narine got him to top edge one straight into the hands of short third.

Knight Riders had saved their mystery spinner for Royal Challengers’ big three. And it worked a treat. Twelve runs. Seventeen balls. And three massive wickets.

The fightback
Kohli wanted this one badly. He got in the face of the umpire when he made a poor decision. When the resulting DRS proved how plumb the lbw was he roared like only he can. He had said this would be his last season as captain in the IPL. He would have imagined signing off with that big shiny trophy. So he kept going to his match-winners.

Harshal Patel has the honour in 2021 and he responded by knocking out Shubman Gill and Venkatesh Iyer. Those two wickets took his season tally to 32, an IPL record, tied with 2013 Dwayne Bravo.

Yuzvendra Chahal has had the honour for pretty much the entire time Royal Challengers have been around. He created the DRS drama.

Dan Christian has had the honour in various T20 leagues around the world. Even at 38, he broke into the Australian World Cup squad on the basis of that. But here he missed his areas. Narine pulled a short ball that didn’t rise high enough for six over square leg to start his innings. Then he launched a length ball on leg stump over midwicket. And to top it off, he cleared the long-off boundary with one hand. Just one hand. That brought the required rate down from 6.9 to 4.8.

And though Royal Challengers continued to fight – Mohammed Siraj took two wickets in the 18th over to throw the game open again – Eoin Morgan and Shakib Al Hasan harnessed over 600 T20s worth of experience to eventually seal the game.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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