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Virat Kohli Scoring Runs But There’s More To Winning Matches For RCB

What’s more satisfying than Virat Kohli leading the highest run-scorers list in IPL 2024? Well, winning matches makes for a good start but sadly for Royal Challengers Bengaluru that hasn’t quite materialised. Yes! Kohli is the current Orange Cap holder, having smashed 379 runs in eight matches at a strike rate of 150.39, including a magnificent ton against Rajasthan Royals. Notably, his form has been vital for India’s batting unit for ICC events over the past decade.

However, can healthy averages and tons of runs amassed be the true measure of Kohli’s contribution with the bat this IPL season? One must note that his team RCB has won only one match out of eight so far, leading to the side languishing at the bottom of the IPL 2024 standings – a stark contrast from the player himself sitting pretty on the Orange Cap leaderboard.

As T20 cricket evolves, so do the metrics of success. Gone are the days when the number of runs amassed solely judged a batter’s contribution. In today’s cricketing landscape, the ability to provide impactful knocks at a reasonable strike rate has predominantly allowed the batters to win matches.

However, Kohli as a T20 batter has been a curiosity to the modern cricketing world because of the way he analyses the game and takes accountability for finishing matches for his side.

Let’s have a look at Kohli’s contribution to RCB’s wins over the years.

Kohli has played 245 IPL games for RCB to date, scoring 7,642 runs at an average of 38.02. His mastery with the bat includes eight centuries and 52 half-centuries which makes him one of the greatest IPL players.

In addition to his IPL stats, Kohli has also played 15 Champions League games for RCB, smashing 424 runs at a 150.35 strike rate. On a side note, it’s worth also mentioning that all these pretty figures never translated into collective success in terms of a trophy for RCB.

Kohli is undoubtedly the poster boy for RCB in the IPL but cricket is a team sport where 11 players have to contribute collectively to win a match. In hindsight, RCB is one of the most-talked-about IPL franchises but their performances haven’t lived up to the expectations ever since the inaugural campaign.

And while pinning the blame for RCB’s lack of success solely at Kohli’s feet is a tad bit unfair, it is also undeniable that he’s been the only constant in the team ever since its inception in 2008.

The Bengaluru-based franchise has played a total of 249 IPL matches and has managed to win only 115 of them. Kohli’s contribution with the bat in RCB’s wins is 20% which is one-fifth of the team’s overall effort. Is that enough to term Kohli a ‘match-winner’ for RCB?

Despite struggling as a team, RCB have always had the backing of King Kohli but that may have worked to their detriment.

Is Kohli playing old-school cricket?
The T20 dynamics have changed drastically over the years, where batters have become more aggressive, taking into account that IPL 2024 has witnessed a few record-breaking team scores this year – SRH’s 287 vs RCB, SRH’s 277 vs MI, KKR’s 272 vs DC, SRH’s 266 vs DC.

The fast-paced DNA of SRH and KKR’s batting has changed the narrative of run-scoring in IPL 2024. The record total of 263 runs set by Kohli’s RCB in 2013 courtesy of Chris Gayle’s mammoth 175* has been broken four times in the explosive IPL 2024 season with such totals becoming the new normal.

Meanwhile, Kohli has hit three 50-plus scores in the IPL 2024 for RCB and surprisingly, the team has lost two out of the three games.

Batting first in both encounters, Kohli’s unbeaten knocks (83 and 113) led RCB to reasonable totals of 182/6 and 183/3 against Kolkata and Rajasthan, respectively. His strike rates in these matches were 140.67 and 156.94.

Then again even with his strike rates under the scanner, the first innings scores weren’t safe in both fixtures as the RCB bowlers failed to defend the targets on batting-friendly tracks. Kohli’s match-defining knocks didn’t get strong support from other batters which led to the team’s misery.

In reality, even a target of 220 is not safe enough to defend this year. T20 cricket has become more batter-centric and demands more from the batters in a more holistic fashion where healthy strike rates cannot be ignored.

While Kohli has anchored RCB’s struggling batting unit and tried his best to bat till the 20th over this season, his knocks haven’t got his team over the line. His strike rate of 150.39 this season is significantly higher than his overall IPL strike rate of 130.63, which is a positive.

With only six matches to go this year, it will be interesting to see if RCB can still qualify for the IPL playoffs. However, for that to happen Kohli must recognise the fact that his contribution to any team these days in T20s must go just beyond run accumulation and boasting good averages.

We no longer live in a time where the number of runs and average of a player offers us an indicator of the player’s importance and contribution to the team’s success in the T20 format.

These days the metric that supersedes all others is that of strike rate and perhaps this is where Kohli might be lacking a bit. Lest we forget, his 67-ball hundred against Rajasthan Royals this season was the slowest in Indian Premier League history, which surely makes for some food for thought.

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