Virat Kohli, the Royal Challengers Bangalore batter and current captain, is set to become the first player in IPL history to feature in 200 matches for a single franchise, when his team takes on Kolkata Knight Riders in Abu Dhabi on Monday night.
Kohli, who has been with Royal Challengers ever since the inception of the tournament in 2008, has batted in 191 innings, scoring 6076 runs at an average of 37.97 and strike rate of 130.41. He has struck five centuries and 40 fifties during that time, helping Royal Challengers reach the IPL finals in 2009, 2011 and 2016.
Kohli is set to reach the 200-match landmark a day after he announced that he would be stepping down as Royal Challengers' captain at the end of the season, though he pledged to be with the franchise "until my retirement from the game of cricket".
Kohli is ahead by a decent distance for most matches played at a single franchise; MS Dhoni is second on the list with 182 matches for the Chennai Super Kings, while his team-mate Suresh Raina is third, having played 172 matches. Overall, Kohli, at 199, is fifth on the list of most IPL matches played, behind Dhoni, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, and Raina.
Kohli first led the side in 2011, during a league match against the Rajasthan Royals, but became the team's full-time captain only in 2013.
His standout season came in 2016, as Kohli ended as the league's top run-getter, scoring 973 runs from 16 matches, including four tons and seven half-centuries.
"Congratulations, Virat bhai. Reaching 200 matches is an outstanding achievement, and shows loyalty and commitment," Mike Hesson, Royal Challengers' head coach, said in a message to Kohli posted by the team's social media on Twitter. "I'm immensely proud. You always play for the team, and are selfless in the way you operate. You are always encouraging and have created a great atmosphere. I love your enthusiasm and willingness to compete and win games for us."
Sanjay Bangar, Royal Challengers' batting consultant, also praised Kohli for sticking with the franchise throughout the IPL, when he could have easily been tempted to move to another team.
"More than the number of games, he has shown various qualities by being with Royal Challengers," Bangar said. "As he continued to conquer various frontiers across the globe, he might have had opportunities to move to other franchises. But he stuck with us. In today's fast-food generation, he set out to give a lesson for the youngsters who want to change teams very quickly. I'm so glad that he continues to play with the same zeal and enthusiasm that he had as a youngster, even today. We hope to see him continue playing for Royal Challengers for at least 350-400 games."