NEW DELHI – The mutual admiration society between Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers had its latest chapter on Saturday at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi, India.
The two put on a 118-run stand as Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Delhi Daredevils by five wickets and kept alive their hopes of progressing to the play-offs of IPL 2018.
A win was imperative for Bangalore that their two big players took them through, given a loss would have resulted in elimination.
Chasing a tricky target of 182, after Rishabh Pant (61 off 34) and Abhishek Sharma (46 off 19) let loose, Bangalore were reduced to 18/2 within three overs.
However, it was the Kohli-De Villiers show after that. Their association lasted 10.4 overs, and by the time Kohli was dismissed in the 14th over for a 40-ball 70, Bangalore needed just 46 runs to win.
South Africa's start batsman De Villiers saw to that, ending unbeaten on a 37-ball 72, a knock comprising four fours and six sixes. It was a typical de Villiers innings, with runs coming around the park as he took apart each bowler.
Kohli later admitted he had been disappointed with his team’s death bowling, but de Villiers helped him focus. “I wasn't happy with the way we finished with the ball, but in the mid-innings break, AB told me, 'Don't worry, we'll get this', and that helped me get in the zone,” he said. “Then I let my instincts take over.
“It's lovely batting with AB. We've done this many times in the past. I don't need to say much, been an honour for me to bat with him.
"I was disappointed after getting out since we had the run-rate in control. I wanted to finish it with three overs to spare, and get the net run-rate up. But the two points are important.”
Kohli took to Instagram to post another tribute to De Villiers. “Have always loved batting with this guy,” he wrote beneath a picture of him embracing De Villiers. “Makes things simpler for the person at the other end. Today was yet another special partnership. Glad to finish on a winning note.”
De Villiers was typically modest and acknowledged Kohli’s part in helping him get going. "To be honest with you, it felt a bit weird tonight,” he said. “Luckily Mishy (Amit Mishra) bowled me one full ball out there and luckily I got it away. That kick-started my innings. I started off slowly, luckily Virat was going well at the other end. I started feeling much better after 10-15 balls."
This was the first-century partnership between Kohli and de Villiers in two seasons. In 2016, they put up five century -stands, which propelled them to the final that year.
They will hope their stand against Delhi can yet spark a late run to the play-offs.