Sharjah, Oct 3: Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli on Sunday (October 3) lauded the performance of his pacers as his team qualified for the playoffs in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021. RCB defeated Punjab Kings by six runs and qualified for the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
Talking about the performance of his bowlers in the league stage, Kohli said, "The resurgence of (Mohammed) Siraj, ever since he has done well in Test cricket. Harshal's (Patel) inclusion has been outstanding.
The captain also hailed the performances of spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Shahbaz Ahmed in the match against Punjab. "Yuzi (Yuzvendra Chahal) has chipped in, as has Shahbaz (Ahmed). Garton has come in. If the players don't step up, then the campaign goes off track," said Kohli during the post-match presentation.
Reacting to his team's performance, Kohli said it's an "amazing feeling" to qualify with a couple of games to spare and now their aim is to finish in the top two in the standings.
"Feels amazing. After 2011, we haven't done it with games to spare. Eight wins out of 12 games is a great campaign. We have two more opportunities to finish in the top two. Should give us the motivation to play even more fearlessly," Kohli said.
"When you don't have any wickets on the scoreboard, you can take more risks. Which myself and Dev (Padikkal) have to." The India captain, however, said there are still areas of improvement for RCB.
"15-20 runs on this ground can be crucial. We have to plug those areas. As a side, we have had an endeavour to improve, whether in losses or wins.
"We knew the wicket would get slower and slower. KL (Rahul) and Mayank (Agarwal) batted really well, but we knew we were just two wickets from coming back into the game."
Player of the match Glenn Maxwell, who scored 57 off 33 balls, said he has been batting well in the last two years of IPL. "Came in at a nice time to bat. Lucky to hit the first couple of risks out of the middle. To have it set up by the openers today gave us some time to get an idea of the wicket.
"Coming into RCB they wanted me to do the exact same role (as with Australia). This (Sharjah) is probably the most difficult to adjust to. The spinners get it to skid on which means you have to be sharper at the start of your innings."
Punjab Kings captain Rahul said he would have been happier had his side qualified for the playoffs instead of him wearing the Orange Cap. "I wouldn't say I haven't enjoyed wearing it (the Orange Cap) but I would have been happier if we had qualified. It was a score that was par. Maybe 10-15 runs extra.
"When a guy like Maxwell comes in with that sort of form, it makes it difficult." He said batting has let the team down and he would accept the responsibility for the team's failure as captain.
"With the bat, the last couple of years have been disappointing. Our batting has let us down. I'll be lying if I say it doesn't play on my mind that I play a role that the team demands. It's not something that I enjoy, but when you lead the team, you have to accept the responsibility," Rahul said.
"In T20, the top two or three do score bulk of the runs. You won't have people in the middle order scoring 500-600 runs. But we have missed someone in the middle who scores those 30-40 quick runs."
(With PTI inputs)