He made runs when it most mattered for his Royal Challengers Bangalore. He made runs for fun. He made batting look really easy. He was the perfect foil to Faf du Plessis, the captain, at the other end. When no one was able to strike a single century, he found a way to hit two on his own.
Heck, he even captained the side when Faf, the batsman was available but not the (usual) captain owing to an injury that kept the Protea lad in the dugout for several games with RCB, the bowling side on the field.
Rather remarkably, despite having not seemed in menacing form particularly during the opening stages of the tournament, he ended up becoming the second-highest run grosser for the famed southern IPL outfit.
And just when it seemed that the final game was perhaps the perfect opportunity for someone like Faf to go big and target going past 750 runs, as he had been in sublime touch all season long, our man stepped up for his franchise one more time.
Not Glenn Maxwell. Not even Francois du Plessis. Not even Dinesh Karthik. It was Virat Kohli who notched up a scintillating century in RCB’s final game against the Hardik Pandya-led Gujarat Titans.
Truth be told, had it not been for Virat Kohli’s impressive 101, a second IPL 2023 century that came off just 61 deliveries, the RCB wouldn’t have put the runs that they did in the end.
While many may regard any total under 200 as a below par score this IPL especially given the sheer number of occasions where teams passed 200 as if it were some child’s play; but then the fact that the brave right hander from Delhi amassed 101 of his team’s 197 on his own, especially under immense pressure was exemplary.
It was one of the occasions this tournament where a batsman did more than just carry the weight of expectations on his shoulders; it was a sight where a talent combined sheer stroke making with pure class.
In the past we’ve seen greats like Abraham Benjamin De Villiers do such a thing. We’ve seen Sachin Tendulkar do that as well in the very preliminary stages of the famed franchise-based T20 league.
But over the years, we’ve seen Virat Kohli repeat the feat with scintillating ease.
How come a batsman, who didn’t bat at the same level as his captain early on go on to score two hundreds and get in the nearabouts of 650 runs in the tournament is something only Virat Kohli can do and explain given the genius he is.
Yet, beyond the roll of the wrists and the captivating stroke play and the display of pure passion, Kohli did something more that we, as impassioned fans, need to take note of.
It’s something that must be given due consideration and weightage, but alas, isn’t really thought about that seriously.
Despite the obvious element of genius and the almost alien-like quality of producing whopping scores under pressure, time has come to soak in the truth that Virat Kohli cannot carry the entire team on his shoulders or on the spattering of his cricket bat.
And that if a team has to win a tournament going all the way, then it must provide meaningful support even to its most extraordinary batting talent.
Surely, much to his liking, Virat Kohli had a massively in-form Faf this time around. And when Faf didn’t get going, then Maxwell, with 5 fifties to his name, most certainly did.
But maybe it’s time to dwell beyond the hysteria of greatness that Kohli brings forth and realize that he too is human and that cricket, which is a team game, cannot be won at the back of a solo man’s genius; that it requires more game-changing, match-winning individuals whose heroism can seal the fate of a contest in the favour of a side.
While the list of landmarks that Virat Kohli scaled this time around, as per usual, were simply brilliant and exemplified his outrageous talent. Stuff like- being the man who scored the most centuries by an RCB-ian, the only man to score 7 hundreds in an IPL, are but legendary.
But there again, how far can one man’s lone genius carry the other ten is what the team management and the rest of the side (perhaps also the social media obsessed) must think about.