Virat Kohli has acknowledged AB de Villiers as the best current batsman, and lauded his composure under pressure after the South African's 47-ball 79 helped Royal Challengers Bangalore qualify for their first IPL final since 2011. Royal Challengers had slumped to 68 for 6 in their chase of 159 against Gujarat Lions in the first Qualifier before de Villiers shared an unbroken 91-run stand with Iqbal Abdulla to carry his side home with 10 balls to spare.
"Unbelievable, can't believe I'm the winning captain," Kohli said at the post-match presentation. "That should end a lot of debates as to who is the best going around. No question about it.
"Come the big game, the big man stands up. I just bow down to him, that was probably one of the best knocks under pressure I've seen. So composed, taking Iqbal Abdulla along. He was really motivated to do it for the team. I'm really happy for him, I'm really happy for the whole team. Special credit to Iqbal as well, the way he got stuck with AB, that crucial partnership. That was wonderful composure to see from a young guy."
After having lost five of their first seven games, Royal Challengers were languishing in the bottom half of the table before winning six of their final seven matches, including a knockout game against Delhi Daredevils, to finish second in the league stage.
"We have been playing good cricket coming into the playoffs, the guys wanted the opportunity," Kohli said. "We've been speaking of guys wanting to step up every game. The top order didn't do well. But AB, the class batsman that he is, I could see the opposition was worried about him, they wanted him out pretty badly because they know what he can do."
The first Qualifier was played on an atypical Bangalore pitch with the ball holding up in the surface and assisting the spinners. Kohli said a thin drizzle during the chase also helped Royal Challengers.
"It did play a bit slow in the first half of the first innings. Second half it settled nicely. I wasn't too unhappy about the few showers in between, it settled the wicket. The ball didn't turn so much, it didn't stop in the end. But high pressure game it doesn't matter, you could be playing on a cement wicket. You need composure and that's what AB de Villiers is."