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Virat Kohli – The Royal Challenger

It was March, 2008 when the Royal Challengers drafted in the Indian U-19 skipper, Virat Kohli among the other U-19 players. Virat was then, just 19 years of age while he donned the RCB jersey for the first time. Batting at Number 3, Virat scored just 1 run from 5 balls, on his debut and in the first ever match of the IPL. Overall, Virat just scored 165 runs at a mere average of 15, in the inaugural edition of the IPL.

It was in the second season that he scored his maiden 50 in the IPL, against the Deccan Chargers. Virat, still wasn’t a regular member, but shared the dressing room with some of the legends such as, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, Jacques Kallis, Kevin Pietersen, etc. For the first time, RCB had reached the finals, that season.

In the third edition, Virat was slightly better in terms of experience and also played more matches for RCB. He also, played a few important knocks for the team. Overall he had scored 307 runs at an impressive Strike Rate of 145. Yet, he wasn’t a household name, but his determination and attitude impressed many cricket fans.

Next came 2011, and it was a Mega Auction that year and all the teams had chopped and changed their teams, as maximum number of players that could have been retained was only 4. Interestingly, Virat was the only player retained by the Royal Challengers Bangalore, among the Stalwarts such as, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, Jacques Kallis, and local legends such as uttappa, vinay kumar, etc.

This faith shown by the team management, had only brought the best of out Virat, as he had scored 557 runs at an average of 47, and had hit 5 half-centuries. Meanwhile, he also, transformed from a young Delhi-teenager, into a Crowd-favourite at Bengaluru. By 2011, he had represented India in all 3 formats, and played a few crucial knocks for the country as well. RCB, may not won the title, that season despite have reaching the finals but, surely had discovered future star, in Virat kohli.

Till 2012, Virat played under 4 different captains, until he led the Royal Challengers, for the first time. Virat, now was a very crucial player in the squad and the most dependable.

Just before the 2013 edition of the IPL, the RCB team management, had made a Bold Move by making Virat, the full-term captain of the Royal Challengers Bangalore. The captaincy had only made him tougher and better, as he scored 634 runs, and had single handedly, won matches for the team. He also made a number of records, both in IPL and in the international cricket. But, unfortunately, RCB couldn’t make it into the top 4. Bengaluru, was now his second home.

2014, was a year that the RCB fans would like to forget as, they finished seventh on the league table. But it was a great learning curve the skipper as well as the entire unit.
In 2015, Virat made a strong comeback both, as a batsman and skipper, as RCB managed to finish third on the points table and qualify for the playoffs after 3 years. By now, Virat had become crowd favourite in the entire nation and was known for his masterclass run-chases, playing some brilliant knocks for the national side as well.

Just before the start of the next edition, Virat had become the only player in the History of the IPL, to have played for a single Franchise, in all the editions. He also was the only player to never have been auctioned, in the entire history of the IPL. 2016, well, was an astonishing season that no RCB fan would forget and so it was for Virat as well. He scored the most amount runs in one edition, scoring 973 runs, at an strike rate over 150, and an average of 80!, falling just 27 short thousand runs, yes 1000! runs in just 16 games!

He also scored his maiden T20 century, 4 of them in that edition. He also finished with most sixes, 38 of them and he also hit 7 fifties. RCB, were so close yet, so far, as they ended up as the runners-up. Virat now had become the modern-day legend, in the entire world, not just breaking the previously made records, but creating the new ones well. It was a dream season that year for the entire RCB unit.

2017, this was the 10th edition of the IPL, and also the 10th year for Virat in RCB. He was the only player to do so. This edition of IPL was completely in contrast with the previous one, both for Virat as well as the entire team as they, finished at the bottom of the league table. Virat, also, had missed a few games due to injury, and wasn’t among the runs.

2018, it was time for yet another Mega Auction, and Virat was yet again retained, which was obvious as he was, already, from a past few seasons considered as an integral part of RCB. The 2018, edition wasn’t that a great season but it was definitely better than the previous one, but, unfortunately, RCB couldn’t manage to qualify for the playoffs. But, Virat had crossed the 500-run mark for the fifth time in the IPL history, scoring 530 runs at an average of 48.18, which included 4 fifties.

It has been an amazing and a beautiful journey for Virat, all these years, at RCB, and will be in the future as well. In an interview, Virat told that he couldn’t see himself playing for any other franchise in the future, as RCB is very special franchise for him. Indeed, it is as it was in RCB that we all saw him transform from a young lad to a modern day master.

As it happens, Virat Kohli, remains A ROYAL CHALLENGER, FOREVER.