After two close losses - one in a Super Over and one off the last ball - Royal Challengers Bangalore would have had reason to believe that they were hit with a jinx that was tough to shake off. Virat Kohli, the Bangalore captain, appeared relieved more than anything else after sealing the Super Over win over Delhi Daredevils on Tuesday (April 16) night, saying, "we crossed the line this time" with a smile.
"To be honest, we have not been defeated in the tournament till now. We lost due to our own mistakes. I'm really happy with the way we won the Super Over but we didn't deserve to be in that position. We lacked common sense in the death overs, which cost us the last game as well," pointed out Kohli. "We have to pull up our socks if we want to go all the way in this tournament. It gets tougher and tougher as we go ahead."
Kohli harped on the theme of 'common sense' and 'smart cricket' repeatedly, saying that the team had a great chance of making the knockout stages, but to do that mistakes must be eliminated. "The games where we played well in the 18th and 19th overs, we have gone on to win convincingly, and when we didn't, we lost in a Super Over and a last-ball finish," said Kohli, adding that 'smart cricket' could have helped the team beat Delhi in regulation time on Tuesday. "Even after I got out, two edges for fours to third man would have done it. Ravi Rampaul hit that six over cover, so we could have still won." (Also see pics: The energetic, enigmatic fans of RCB)
Talking about his own dismissal at a most inopportune time with 15 runs required from eight balls, Kohli said, "I was annoyed when I got out because I was the set batsman but I wasn't getting enough strike. But that's where we lacked common sense. If I'd got six-seven balls on the trot, I could have gone for it and got the right result."
Kohli himself has been a vastly improved batsman in the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013 - aggregating 321 runs from six games - compared to last season, when he lacked consistency. "Last year, I was coming off a very good season in Australia and the Asia Cup. So I thought I could come in to the IPL and smash from ball one. I didn't concentrate on the basics and I got really frustrated after five-six games," Kohli was candid enough to admit. "But I have changed my thinking. I told myself that I am not a machine and I can't score runs every game. All I can do is be calm at the crease and back myself to win games for my team. I feel that if I have made 40 off 40 balls, I can still make 30 from 10 balls. So I am really calm and that's the sort of energy I am spreading in the dressing room as well."
One of the men who has made a difference to Bangalore in his two outings so far is Rampaul. "I specifically told the management that I wanted Ravi in the side because he can be handy with the bat too. If he hadn't hit the six over cover, we would have lost the game," said Kohli. "With the ball too, he has been brilliant. He can bowl with pace and put in the odd bouncer too."
Bangalore, interestingly, have changed their playing XI in every game so far, but there hasn't been any Saurabh Tiwary - who is recovering from a shoulder injury - out in the middle yet. "We're just trying out new guys and because we are playing good cricket, we can afford to give people chances. As we go into the business end, we need to have a set XI with a few bowling changes here and there," said Kohli. "Saurabh Tiwary should be with us soon. Then we can put our experienced guys at the top and Saurabh can be in the middle order."
Missing also has been Muttiah Muralitharan - Rampaul has filled in an overseas slot well - as well as Murali Kartik. J Syed Mohammad was preferred for the game against Delhi, and Kohli said, "Murali sir is a great asset for any team and even on his worst day, he will give you 26-27 runs in his four overs. We have to see what kind of combination works for us. He might not fit in. We played Syed Mohammad over Kartik because of his batting and his fielding. Kartik is our best Indian spinner by far. But Syed did the job for us with 13 runs from two overs."