Royal Challengers v South Australia, CLT20, Bangalore October 5, 2011

'The best T20 match of my life' - Kohli


One of the allures of the Champions League Twenty20 is the chance it gives for the little guy on the big stage. None of the obscure domestic cricketers grabbed the opportunity as dramatically as 25-year-old Arun Karthik. He thwacked the final ball of the match over midwicket to conjure a preposterous win, which took Royal Challengers Bangalore through to the semi-finals, and set off on a memorable chest-thumping celebration. That will be the abiding image of Royal Challengers' victory over South Australia, and perhaps of the league phase of the CLT20.

There was another moment to define the game though. It was in the 13th over of the chase, in the middle of an audacious counterattack by Virat Kohli and Tillakaratne Dilshan. Kohli punched the air angrily after drilling a full toss to long-off for a single. After completing the run, he chastised himself and practised the off-drive again. Annoyance at missing out on a hit-me ball is one thing, but Kohli had missed out on the fourth ball of the over after striking the first three for six, six and four. It was that sort of a match, where no amount of runs seemed enough.

Kohli had played a couple of blinders for the Royal Challengers in the CLT20 last year, and was second only to Chris Gayle in amassing runs in the IPL this season, but this 36-ball 70 ranks as his finest Twenty20 innings. There were several challenges to deal with in this high-pressure must-win game: no IPL team had ever beaten an Australian side in the CLT20, only a handful of times had a target in excess of 200 been successfully hunted down, and finally Gayle, the man whose form has closely mirrored that of the Royal Challengers this year, had been dismissed relatively cheaply.

After Gayle and Dilshan had provided the initial thrust, Kohli came out and utterly dominated the high-octane century stand with Dilshan, which kept the chase on course. Of the first 74 runs of the partnership, Kohli's contribution was 61, a big chunk of which came off his favourite Twenty20 stroke - the inside-out lofted drive in the arc stretching from long-off to deep extra cover. There were dabs past third man for four, hard-run twos after tucking the ball softly towards the deep, and no ugly across-the-line heaves were attempted.

By the time Kohli was dismissed, the pair had taken Royal Challengers to 165 for 2, with an eminently gettable 50 needed off the final five overs. "We were pumped up, to want to play like me and Dilshan did, you need some sort of adrenaline," Kohli at the post-match press conference, with the sound of the Royal Challengers celebrating still being heard. "I was really excited since we were hitting the sixes at the right time and probably the best T20 match of my life."

Still to complete the job after Kohli's dismissal, Royal Challengers needed some amazing hits and most of their batsmen delivered. Saurabh Tiwary bludgeoned Tait for a 99-metre six over long-on, Mayank Agarwal pummelled his first ball over the extra-cover boundary, Daniel Vettori flicked one way beyond midwicket, and S Aravind played an immensely courageous scoop in the final over for four. Despite all that, it came down to nine off three balls, at which stage Kohli says he lost hope.

"I didn't (think we could win)," he said. "I was sitting with the coach and we needed seven off two, and I told him, 'coach if we get four off this ball, and two off the last ball, just run, I think we are going to make it,' when we got a single, I just closed my eyes, and said coach whatever happens, happens."

Then came Karthik's moment of magic, and the crowd went berserk. The Royal Challengers were also delirious, mobbing Karthik, who couldn't stop bouncing up and down after the match-sealing six. Kohli, an animated presence in the dug-out since his dismissal, charged out and was the first to pluck some stumps as souvenirs. "None of us can still believe that, especially since it was a quarter-final for us, to be able to play like that was a team's delight, a coach's delight, a player's delight, all in all a wonderful experience."

Royal Challengers may have emphatically proven they can win without Gayle turning in a headlining performance, but their shoddy fielding and toothless bowling remain a cause for worry. For their fans and the team, those concerns can wait for another day as they savoured a famous win.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ajay on October 7, 2011, 12:45 GMT

    And one of the worst of my life. This match showed India does have some worst pitches in the world. Indian pitches are death bed for Fast bowler. Thats why we don't have good fast bowler. By worst i mean its not very competitive.

  • Deepak on October 6, 2011, 13:18 GMT

    Kohli need to control his temper firstly. He is viewed as the replacement to No3 which the GREAT WALL occupied for most of the 12-13 yrs before he recently retired and was ignored for 2 years before selecting to the English tour. If he is calm and watchful as Dravid, Sachin and Dhoni, he could well be a role model. except for Yuvi, Bhajji, Sree none of them really showed this kind of emotions.

  • Ashok on October 6, 2011, 12:48 GMT

    It was a magnificient chase concluding in the last ball winning Six.After Tait pulled off the rug from under the feet of RCB with 3 wickets in one over, it was great to see the last over fight back from the tail enders.The big 3 - Gayle, Dilshan & Kohli - came out swinging and set the table with some smashing hits all over thefield. Kohli was brilliant with his strike rate of over 160.It was a great fight back into the semis after the RCB was 0-2 with 2 games to go. It caused bitter frustration to the Redbacks who wouldhave topped the group with this win - but instead ended up at the bottom with a loss.Can RCB go all the way remains to be seen. They definitely need at least one other good bat to back up the Big 3 + one good bowler to control runs.Aravind was poor at best in bowling!. If Kohli can reproduce the same form against the England team in the ODI's it will be fantastic for India.Good Luck RCB - win the next 2 games.

  • G on October 6, 2011, 11:16 GMT

    it was a fantastic game of cricket. Some great innings, and what an ending! Especially after that Tait over. It seems the standard of Champions league is far above the IPL, and this is why I believe the IPL should be rethought and have the champions league a truly global domestic t20 competition.

  • Raj on October 6, 2011, 11:03 GMT

    EVERYBODY SAYING Kohli should concentrate on playing for india . well he scored a century in england and was pretty good there. he did well in south africa as well as west indies odis. he had admittedly a poor start in tests but then again give him opportunities and he will do well. it was the bowling that let india down in england(and also many series before that).

  • Sagar on October 6, 2011, 10:50 GMT

    RCB vs SAR's last game : it is known as T-20 ..

  • Amahl on October 6, 2011, 9:13 GMT

    What a fantastic cricket game. For all this T20 as well as Champions League bashers, try and leave that aside and appreciate what a well contested, exciting game of cricket we were treated to. The match really did have everything you could want out of a T20 fixture and again displayed to the world what an immense talent Virat Kohli is. I hope he can take this form into the upcoming ODI series against England.

  • Rainen on October 6, 2011, 8:52 GMT

    Gayle did well by showing the RCB players the right motivation for the game after South Australia scored a lot of runs. No doubt that Kohli played a fantastic innings and Karthik did an awesome job scoring the six on the last ball. Its a shame that RCB won though, I'm Aussie xD.

  • Dummy4 on October 6, 2011, 7:58 GMT

    Fantastic knock by Kohli. Proved yet again that he is tailor made for the limited overs version of Cricket... A long long way to go for him to perform well in tests.

  • Naresh on October 6, 2011, 7:43 GMT

    I must admit that after South Aust scored 200+ runs, I had given up hope of RCB chasing that target down. It must have been a superb match to watch and gave the growd some good cheer. The whole of RCB team played like a team. Tait's bowling was great, I dont know how a talent like his is lost in Aust. team. Kohli was great but he needs to reign in his temper. I know he is a hard competiitor. Arvind's bowling is not great. He is in the Indian team vs England.

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