Kohli heaps praise on AB

Only greats know how to respect a great. So when Virat Kohli “bowed” down to teammate AB de Villiers after the South African genius took Royal Challengers Bangalore to the IPL final on Tuesday night, India’s Test captain only earned oodles of respect.

Just 81 runs short of becoming the first man to score a 1,000 runs in a single IPL season, this championship has been dominated by Virat Kohli. On Tuesday night, Kohli was out for a rare duck – first after 51 innings — as RCB chased Gujarat Lions’ modest 159 at Chinnaswamy Stadium.

RCB collapsed to 68 for six and Kohli’s team started at imminent defeat. But De Villiers took the fight to the Lions camp and won it in grand style. De Villiers struck a 47-ball 79 not out to take RCB to a four-wicket win with 10 balls remaining.

The South African ODI skipper smashed five fours and as many sixes as Gujarat Lions were left stunned by some cavalier and innovative strokeplay that defied cricket’s grammar books.

De Villiers was well supported by Iqbal Abdullah, whose 33 runs off 25 balls was no less precious. The duo stitched 91 runs that will probably be the most decisive partnership in the tournament so far.

“I’m really happy for him, I’m really happy for the whole team. Special credit to Iqbal as well, the way he got stuck with AB, that crucial partnership. That was wonderful composure to see from a young guy.”

Kohli sprinted onto the pitch to celebrate the win. A man who refuses to hide his expressions was simply jubilant and his praise for De Villiers knew no limits. It also underlined the humbleness of a great batsman and a true captain who backs his players.

“Unbelievable, can’t believe I’m the winning captain,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation. “That should end a lot of debates as to who is the best going around. No question about it.”

RCB’s stunning turnaround in IPL 2016 has been scripted by Kohli himself. Yet, on Tuesday night he knew how De Villiers played his part when the chips were down.

RCB are overwhelming favourites to win the tournament. They may be third time lucky having lost two finals before.

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