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Told AB I will hug him if we win: Kohli

Kolkata

AB de Villiers was disappointed not to make it to Friday’s game against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) which the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) won by 10 runs at the Eden Gardens in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL), said skipper Virat Kohli on Friday.

Kohli scored a brilliant 58-ball 100, his first in IPL 2019, to help his team post 213/4 which the visitors eventually succeeded to defend.

It was for the first time in this IPL that de Villiers was not a part of the playing XI. De Villiers, who has been in sublime form while scoring 307 runs, was not 100 per cent fit before the start of the game and Kohli decided to rest him.

Thus, the onus was on Kohli to bat through the innings in the absence of their senior batsman.

“It was important to bat along when AB is not here, as a senior player. AB was disappointed for not making it for the game tonight and I told him that I’ll give him a hug if we win tonight,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation.

Apart from Kohli, Moeen Ali bludgeoned a 28-ball 66 (4×5, 6×6), as the pair added 90 runs for the third wicket off just 43 balls. Marcus Stoinis (17* off 8) also provided a late flourish towards the end as RCB amassed 143 runs in the last 10 overs.

“They both showed composure and that’s what you expect from your teammates. Our communication during the second time-out was to get 170-175. We didn’t think we could get 200-plus. It was difficult to put the length balls away,” said Kohli.

“Moeen changed the game completely and that allowed me to play my game. Moeen said I am going to go now and I asked him to go for it. He targeted the small boundaries and changed the game in those few overs,” he said while praising Ali.

Chasing a stiff 214 for victory, Nitish Rana (79 off 45 not out; 9×4, 4×6) and Andre Russell (65 off 25 balls; 2×4; 9×6) stitched together a 118-run partnership off 48 balls to take the match till the last over. Both of them almost got KKR over the line but Ali managed to defend 24 in the final over.

“There’s no point in panicking in these types of situations, you got to leave it to the bowlers to decide what he wants to do. There were few good decisions taken by (Marcus) Stoinis and then Moeen in the end. I think the way Stoinis bowled those two-three dot balls, it was very crucial,” Kohli said of Stoinis’ penultimate over.

Kohli also praised Proteas pacer Dale Steyn, who was playing his first match of the season. Steyn removed Chris Lynn and Shubman Gill to leave the hosts reeling at 33 for three in five overs.

“Having Dale (Steyn) with his kind of experience gave bowlers like (Navdeep) Saini confidence. Steyn getting those crucial overs was important for us. I think picking wickets in the powerplay is crucial as it sets the tone for the rest of the innings,” he said.

RCB, with four points from nine games, are currently placed at the bottom of the table. They will take on Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on Sunday at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. (PTI)

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