Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) maestro Virat Kohli equaled his former teammate Chris Gayle's record for the most centuries in the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Thursday. The 34-year-old iconic batter's magnificent feat came against 2016 champions Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) as he struck his sixth hundred of the premier T20 competition to secure the vital two points for his franchise. Virat Kohli, who shared a 172-run opening partnership with RCB skipper Faf du Plessis looked in spectacular touch from start to finish as he toyed with SRH's bowlers, eventually departed for a scintillating 100 off 63 deliveries.
However, by the time Virat Kohli left the crease, he had sealed the match for RCB as Aiden Markram and his boys had no answer to the former India captain's onslaught.
From the word go, it looked like Virat Kohli's night in Hyderabad as he began his knock with two gorgeous drives against Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the opening over of their run chase.
Afterward, there was no looking back for Virat Kohli as the master batter flicked, drove, cut, pulled, and lofted the ball over the boundary, both with elan and comfort.
Virat Kohli's masterful knock included a massive 103-meter six that went miles into the stands.
With his century against SRH, Virat Kohli drew level with Chris Gayle for the most tons in IPL history. Both players have six three-figure scores in the event.
Also, Virat Kohli went past Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul to become the Indian batter with the most T20 hundreds to his name. While Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul have six centuries each in the format, Virat Kohli took his tally to seven. While he has scored six in the IPL, the ex-India skipper made one for Team India in the Asia Cup last year.
Before his knock against SRH, Virat Kohli came in for heavy criticism for his slow batting in IPL 2023, with even RCB hopefuls taking a dig at him multiple times. Some went on to say that Virat Kohli was batting like a Test match specialist in T20 cricket.
Virat Kohli, however, earned plaudits for his stunning century from netizens, with cricket fans from all over the world hailing his performance against SRH.
557 runs in IPL 2011.
634 runs in IPL 2013.
505 runs in IPL 2015.
973 runs in IPL 2016.
530 runs in IPL 2018.
538* runs in IPL 2023.
Virat Kohli completed 500+ runs for the 6th time – most by an Indian – King of world cricket. pic.twitter.com/fQDgBXd9h9
— Johns. (@CricCrazyJohns) May 19, 2023
Golden ducks last year
A golden hundred this year
Virat Kohli vs SRH 🙌#IPL2023 #SRHvRCB pic.twitter.com/87N1haIwSn
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) May 18, 2023
On this day:
In 2015 – Virat Kohli won the match for RCB against SRH – 44*(18).
In 2016 – Kohli scored Hundred in 15 overs match in IPL.
In 2023 – Kohli scored 6th IPL hundred, joint most IPL history.
The GOAT.👑💥🔥🐐#ViratKohli @imVkohli #IPL2023 pic.twitter.com/JICFOMOXeL
— Thyview (@Thyview) May 18, 2023
Jersey no. 18 screwed SRH bowlers on 18th may in 18+ style.#ViratKohli pic.twitter.com/FhdqqDpDwY
— Sagar (@sagarcasm) May 18, 2023
18th May 2016- 113* vs KXIP
18th May 2023- 100 vs SRH
Perfect 7 year challenge by Virat Kohli pic.twitter.com/3JRXveUzJb
— Pari (@BluntIndianGal) May 18, 2023
Kohli was pleased with his batting display too.
“Quite special considering the magnitude of the game. We saw the ball was gripping in the middle. We wanted a solid start but did not expect to be 172 for no loss. That's how well Faf and I have played, he's been on a different level. I had a quiet couple of games and wasn't hitting as well in the game as I was in the nets. My intent from ball 1 was to go after the bowlers. There was a dip but I wanted to take it up in the right time. Happy that it all came together nicely,” Virat Kohli told former India wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta in the post-match presentation ceremony.
“I was telling the boys – the way I'm looked at as an IPL player as well is like ‘yeah, he's fine, a few impact knocks'. But it's my 6th IPL hundred. I don't give enough credit to myself. I never look at past records (not great numbers against SRH).”
“I put myself under so much stress already. I don't care what anyone says on the outside, because that's their opinion. It's like… when you are 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 I don't win games for my team. It's playing the situation (that) I take pride in,” he added.
“I've never been a guy who plays so many fancy shots and throws my wicket away. It's Test cricket (coming up) after the IPL, so I have to stay true to my technique. When I can make impact in an important game, it gives me confidence, and gives the team confidence,” Virat Kohli elaborated.
Meanwhile, Chris Gayle, whose record Virat Kohli broke, showered accolades on his former RCB Colleague. The Universe Boss said he was lonely at the top of the pile, but with Virat Kohli joining him there with six centuries, he would now get good company.
“Welcome young man and welcome to the highest century makers club. I was bored. I was lonely and bored. I was like ‘I need some company at the top'. Now I have got it and we can have a talk now, Virat,” Chris Gayle said on JioCinema on Friday.
“He was so aggressive from ball one. When he hit that first boundary, he was like ‘it's my day today and I am going to make it count'. He delivered for his team. Virat seldom plays a lot of sweep, but to see him play sweeps against left-arm spinners was lovely. It was a superb innings and he was complemented by Faf as well,” Chris Gayle concluded.
On the other hand, cricket pundit Sanjay Manjrekar opined that King Kohli was back to his best, and his aggressive batting has transformed RCB into a completely different side.
“What was important for me was to know whether Kohli had that kind of a game still in him. On many occasions, you felt that he wasn't extracting the extreme T20 game out of himself. Today, we got an idea and we came to know that he has that game still, the one that we saw so much earlier, in 2016,” Sanjay Manjrekar told Star Sports.
“The best of Virat Kohli was in 2016, where he scored a number of hundreds. It reminds me of the way he batted in that season, where he scored 900-plus runs. The fluency and the aggression that he had from the start to the finish was intimidating. He totally bossed that Sunrisers attack,” the cricketer-turned-commentator pointed out.
“If Virat bats in this fashion, not only is it going to extend his T20 career, but suddenly you are looking at RCB as a different team. Because now you have got Faf du Plessis, Glenn Maxwell and Virat Kohli batting with the same kind of strike rate,” Sanjay Manjrekar concluded.
Virat Kohli, however, would have to win RCB's last game against table-toppers Gujarat Titans (GT) on Sunday to ensure their qualification into the IPL playoffs.