Kohli slams strike-rate talk and pundits ‘from the box’


India’s Virat Kohli on Sunday hit back at critics taking aim at his hitting prowess in T20 cricket after he slammed a match-winning unbeaten 70 off 44 balls in the Indian Premier League.

The in-form Kohli set up Royal Challengers Bengaluru’s chase of 201 before his younger partner Will Jacks blew away Gujarat Titans with his 41-ball 100 in Ahmedabad.

Kohli, who has now passed 500 runs in this edition, and England batsman Jacks put on an unbeaten stand of 166 to see Bengaluru home by nine wickets with four overs to spare.

But despite Kohli’s flowing form ahead of the T20 World Cup in June, pundits have raised concerns over his strike-rate as compared to a new breed of T20 batters, who deal in sixes.

“All the people who talk about strike rates and me not playing spin well are the ones talking about this stuff,” Kohli said in response to looking at his season stats.

“For me, it’s about winning the games for the team and there’s a reason why you’ve done it for 15 years. You’ve done this day in and day out, you’ve won games for your teams, I’m not quite sure that if you haven’t been in that situation yourself, to sit and talk about the game from the box.”

Called “King Kohli” for his prolific run-scoring, the star batter has a strike rate of 147.49 in 10 IPL innings. In contrast, Australia’s up and coming batter in Jake Fraser-McGurk has made 247 runs at a strike-rate of 237.50 for Delhi Capitals.

Kohli’s 51 in the previous match came in 43 balls, a contrast to teammate Rajat Patidar’s 20-ball 50 and former India quick RP Singh said the veteran batter was “slow”.

“For me, people can talk about their assumptions day in and day out, but those who have done it day in and day out, they know what’s happening and it’s a kind of muscle memory for me now,” said the 35-year-old Kohli.

Kohli struck the first century — his eighth in the IPL — of this edition earlier this month in 67 balls but the knock ended in a losing cause after Rajasthan Royals Jos Buttler hit 100 in 58 balls.

“I don’t want to be over-aggressive, want to keep the bowler guessing. They want me to go hard and get me out,” Kohli said after the knock on April 6.

“It’s just experience and maturity. I play the conditions and have the game ready.” Bengaluru, who remain bottom of the 10-team table with just three wins in 10 matches, and Kohli still await their first IPL title. 

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