The return of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) skipper Virat Kohli to lead the host team against Mumbai Indians (MI) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) match brought thousands of his die-hard cricket fans to the Chinnaswamy stadium here in droves on a hot Friday afternoon.
Kohli missed this campaign’s first three league ties, including two away at Hyderabad on April 5 and Indore on April 10 and one here on April 8, as he was recovering from the right shoulder injury he suffered in the Third Test against Australia at Ranchi on March 16.
As Kohli walked into the middle to open the innings with Chris Gayle after Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma chose to field first despite winning the toss, fans cheered him loudly and chants of “Kohli, Kohli” reverberated across the packed stands.
“It’s heartening to see Kohli play again, as his absence in the first three games made a difference to the team. He has been in great form and led India successfully in all the three formats of the game over the year with brilliant batting and captaincy,” recalled Vinay Kumar, a sales executive, in the pavilion enclosure.
True to his form and much to the delight of his fans, Kohli did not disappoint them, as he settled down early to play an anchoring innings and made 62 in 47 balls with five fours and two mighty sixes before he was out in the 16th over when the score was 110 for 1.
Ahead of the crucial game, after RCB lost both the away games to Sunrisers Hyderabad by 35 runs on April 5 and to Kings XI Punjab by eight wickets on April 10, Kohli said he was excited to resume playing, as he badly missed the game for nearly a month after a year-long hectic cricketing schedule in domestic and overseas series.
“Though I have been with the team at the nets since the season began, I was missing the game very much. The break has helped me to become fit to play again. I am sure my return will strengthen the batting lineup, as AB (de Villiers) has also joined the team in the last game after missing the first two due to back pain,” said Kohli.
RCB, however, beat Delhi Daredevils by 15 runs here on April 8.