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Kohli: I know I can step up at any point because I'm hitting the ball well

RCB batter says it hasn't been a conscious decision to bat at a higher tempo this IPL season

Virat Kohli is scoring at a strike rate of 146 in this year's IPL. Only once has he ever scored quicker and that was in 2016 when he was the kind of form where he was threatening the 1000-run mark. Is this a conscious effort? Is he trying to bat differently, more aggressively?
"Look I'm not coming with any premeditation," Kohli said after making the first century of the 2024 season that took Royal Challengers Bangalore to a total of 183 on a Jaipur pitch that was on the slower side. "Whatever the surface allows me to do, I do that. Today I wasn't 20 off 9. I was 12 off 10."
Kohli has seemed more willing to take risks, particularly looking to hit over the top to find boundaries. He is lofting more balls per innings this year than in any of the last 10. But he is putting that down to his usual process of assessing the game in front of him and knowing that if the need arises he can go big whenever he wants.
"So I knew I can't go over-aggressive. I don't want to be predictable. I know I can step up at any point because I'm hitting the ball well. But I want to keep the bowler guessing as to what I'm going to do. They probably want me to come hard at them so they can get me out or have an early breakthrough. But I feel like if I'm set and if I bat beyond six overs, then our chance of getting good totals becomes that much better. So I guess it is just experience and maturity over the years and understanding the conditions that you're playing. I basically play the conditions and I have the game ready to play in two or three different ways."
Kohli's century on Saturday night was the eighth of his IPL career, two clear of any other batter in the history of the tournament. He needed 67 balls to get there though, which makes it the joint-slowest. Kohli explained that it was not easy to hit the shots that he wanted to hit because of the lack of pace and bounce, which the Rajasthan Royals spinners used to their advantage to finish with combined figures of 8-0-62-2.
"Nothing really came onto the bat. Even a few shots that I tried to play against Yuzvendra Chahal, just trying to slog him, they kept going under the bat. Even R Ashwin, it just felt like you couldn't get under the carrom ball to hit over midwicket. All you could target was straight if they missed their length. So if you're consistent enough, the batters were finding it difficult out there.
"The wicket feels like its flat but as soon as you see the ball holding up in the pitch, that's when you realise the pace is changing pretty quickly and then the big dimensions of the ground come into play. Our target initially was 190, 195, to be honest. But then assessing the pitch and how it was slowing down, we decided if one of Faf [du Plessis] or me get out, then the other had to bat till the end so that we can get that boost closer to 180-185, which we did, which I feel is a very effective total on this pitch."
Kohli has contributed 38% of all of RCB's runs this season. He holds the Orange Cap with a tally of 316 from five innings and has now crossed 7500 runs in the IPL,