NEW DELHI: Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Faf du Plessis is confident Virat Kohli will overcome his IPL batting slump.
Kohli took his Indian Premier League tally this season to just 128 runs from nine matches after scoring a scratchy nine in the defeat to Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday following two golden ducks.
Moved up to open the batting, Kohli was inches away from failing to score for a third match in a row with a shot that fell just short of a fielder.
The former India captain remained jittery and lasted only 10 balls before an attempted pull shot off Prasidh Krishna was edged on to his helmet to give a catch at cover point.
“Great players go through things like this and great characters have to find a way to get through it,” Du Plessis said after his team fell 29 runs short of a modest target of 145.
“Our thinking was to get him into the game straight away so he does not sit on the side and think too much about the game.
“He is a fantastic cricketer, so we still back him that he will turn it around and it’s just the case of getting a good start.”
Kohli, one of the best batsmen of the modern era, has failed to score a century for more than two years for club or country and departed first ball in his previous two IPL innings.
He has been the flagbearer for Indian cricket and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), for whom he amassed a record 973 runs in the 2016 edition of the T20 tournament.
“He is a great player and seen many ups and downs in his career,” Bangalore coach Sanjay Bangar told reporters.
“I have seen him up close and he is a fighter. So he will come out of this run of low scores in the last three matches and will soon get us a win.”
Bangar, who worked as India batting coach with Kohli, said he “possesses the art of coming out of difficult situations”.
“His mental capability is such that he will do well in the upcoming games.”
The match also saw England’s Jos Buttler, the 2022 IPL’s highest scorer with 499 runs and three sparkling centuries, make just eight, his lowest of the season.
Former India coach Ravi Shastri called for Kohli to take a break and come back refreshed.
“He has played non-stop cricket, captained the team across formats. It would be wise of him to take a break,” Shastri said on an internet chat show.
Former Bangalore skipper Daniel Vettori said he still believed Kohli could play a key part for the team, who are searching for their first IPL title.
“If RCB can scrape through the semi-finals (play-offs) there is no reason why he can’t be the person who takes them to the title,” Vettori told ESPNcricinfo.
Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2022