Virat Kohli was a relieved man after a nail-biting 10-run victory over Kolkata Knight Riders, in Kolkata on Friday, kept Royal Challengers Bangalore’s hopes alive in the Indian Premier League.
RCB’s captain scored a 58-ball 100 for his first century in IPL 2019, which proved crucial in the end after Andre Russell and Nitish Rana nearly pulled off the impossible for KKR.
Kohli said the onus was only on him to bat through the innings in the absence of AB de Villiers, who was under the weather before the start of the game and rested.
"It was important to bat along when AB is not here, as a senior player. AB was disappointed for not making it for the game tonight and I told him that I'll give him a hug if we win tonight," said Kohli at the post-match presentation.
RCB were finally able to defend a total after posting 213 for four at the Eden Gardens.
Needing 113 runs off the last six overs, Russell (65 off 25) and Rana (85 not out off 46) almost got KKR over the line but Moeen Ali did well to defend 24 in the final over.
"There's no point in panicking in these types of situations; you got to leave it to the bowlers to decide what he wants to do. Few good decisions by (Marcus) Stoinis and then Moeen in the end. I think the way Stoinis bowled those two-three dot balls, it was very crucial," Kohli said of Stoinis’s penultimate over.
"They (Moeen and Stoinis) both showed composure and that's what you expect from your teammates. Our communication during second time-out was to get 170-175; we didn't think we could get 200-plus."
Talking about his innings, Kohli said: "It was difficult to put away the length balls away. Moeen changed the game completely and that allowed me to play my game. Moeen said I am going to go now and I asked him to go for it. He targeted the small boundaries and changed the game in those few overs."
Moeen scored 66 off 28 balls.
Kohli also praised Russell and Rana for taking the game deep.
"In the end, death overs are going to be difficult with this kind of ground, where the ground is lightning quick. Credit to Russell for setting up those kind of games.
"Having Dale (Steyn) with his kind of experience gave bowlers like (Navdeep) Saini that kind of confidence. Steyn getting those crucial overs was important for us. I think picking wickets in the powerplay is crucial as it sets the tone for the rest of the innings," he said.
Playing his first game of the season after having come in as a replacement, Steyn removed Chris Lynn and Shubman Gill to leave KKR reeling at 33 for three in five overs.