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Royal Challengers Bangalore's Virat Kohli plays a shot during his century against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League on Thursday. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Virat Kohli put last year’s poor season behind him to produce several important knocks for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2023. The star batter blasted a scintillating century in RCB’s must-win game against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Thursday.

The former RCB skipper had struck four half centuries this season, but, unlike in the past, they were more workmanlike efforts at a slow strike rate.

Circumspect this season

Kohli has been a bit circumspect this season; his efforts lacked the fluency that has got him over 7,000 runs in 15 seasons. After a cautious start, Kohli would play risky shots only after completing his half-century. The ability to convert fifties into hundreds seemed to have deserted him, but his knocks have swelled the team total.

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But in the crunch match, chasing 187 against a good bowling unit, Kohli attacked relentlessly to score his sixth IPL century, equalling Chris Gayle’s record. More importantly, it came at a much higher strike rate.

The intent was there right from the first ball, dispatching a well-pitched Bhuvneshwar Kumar delivery to the boundary. It was a beautiful cover drive right out of the coaching manual. That was just the beginning as Kohli unleashed an assault on Hyderabad bowlers.

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Kohli reproduced some of his vintage shots during his century against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Thursday. Image Credit: AFP

After the aggression in the powerplay, Kohli did not relent as he continued to play his natural game. There were the shades of ‘Old Virat Kohli’, including a single-handed straight-driven four.

Staying true to his technique

“I’ve never been a guy who tries so many fancy shots, because we have to play 12 months of the year,” Kohli said after collecting the Player of the Match award. “For me, it’s not (about) playing fancy shots and throwing my wicket away. We’ve got Test cricket after the IPL, so I’ve got to stay true to my technique and find ways to win games for my team, something that I take a lot of pride in.”

Fancy shots are for batters who can’t hit through the line. With a perfect bat swing and excellent footwork, Kohli played in front of the wicket on both sides with ease. His timing too was immaculate. Even the Hyderabad supporters were thrilled by the Kohli magic.

The criticism over his slow strike rate was well and truly buried.

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Virat Kohli, who is celebrating his sixth century in IPL, has forged a brilliant partnership with skipper Faf du Plessis. Image Credit: Source: IPL Twitter

Vintage best

“I don’t really care about what anyone says on the outside, to be honest, because that’s their opinion,” Kohli said. “When you’re in that situation yourself, you know how to win games of cricket, and I’ve done that for a long period of time. It’s not like when I play I don’t win games for my team. It’s playing the situation that I take pride in.”

Kohli’s return to his vintage best will only make RCB fans dream of winning their maiden IPL Cup this year. He has an able ally in skipper Faf du Plessis, and the two are giving Bangalore a dream start. Maybe, the Kohli-Faf combination could achieve what Kohli-AB de Villiers failed to do.