IPL 2023 | Enjoying and playing my best T20 cricket again, proclaims Virat Kohli

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Virat Kohli completed a stunning comeback to form over the past year in T20 cricket with back-to-back centuries to end his IPL 2023 campaign on a glorious note. The veteran revealed he felt at the top of his game and explained his thought process behind structuring an innings in the shortest format.

Even though Royal Challengers Bangalore suffered a league stage elimination at IPL 2023 following a loss to Gujarat Titans at the Chinnaswamy on Sunday in the final regular season fixture of the campaign, Indian fans had a lot to take away from their campaign with Virat Kohli's form being on top of the list. The talisman ended the tournament with 639 runs in 14 games at an average of 53.25 and a strike rate of nearly 140, smashing six half-centuries and two tons in the process. Kohli rediscovered his best touch towards the end of the league stage with two back-to-back centuries, the second time he achieved the feat, and went past Chris Gayle for the most IPL centuries with seven.

"Ya, I felt great. A lot of people feel my T20 cricket is declining, but I don't feel like that at all," Kohli was quoted saying by ICC after his unbeaten 61-ball 101.

In typical fashion, the 34-year-old changed gears in the final few overs to fetch 38 runs off his last 18 balls, improving his strike rate by nearly 20 points to help the team post a competitive total of 197/5. Kohli had done something similar against Sunrisers Hyderabad as well, tallying 35 runs off his last 17 balls to take the team inches close to a chase of 187 which was eventually completed with four balls to spare. 

"I feel I am playing my best T20 cricket again. I'm just enjoying myself, this is how I play T20 cricket. I look to hit gaps, hit a lot of boundaries and the big ones in the end if the situation allows me to," Kohli added.

Despite having nearly 12,000 T20 runs to his name, Kohli has received severe flak in recent times for his strike rate not being at par with the likes of explosive batters Suryakumar Yadav and Faf du Plessis. A lean patch of form between 2019 and 2021 across formats made matters worse, albeit he did manage 10 half-centuries in the timeframe, but Kohli responded with a maiden T20I ton against Afghanistan last year and followed it up by being the highest run-getter at World T20 2022 with 296 runs at an average of 98.66.

"Strike rates, all those kind of things like I said in the past as well...you have to read the situation and rise up to the occasion when the situation demands, and that's something I take a lot of pride in doing, and I've been doing it for a while now. I feel really good with my game at the moment and how I'm batting out there in the middle," Kohli stated amidst talks of phasing him out of the national T20 team in the run-up to next year's World T20 in the USA and the Caribbean islands.

Kohli also equalled a partnership record from 2016 held by him and AB de Villiers by putting up 939 runs with Faf du Plessis through the 2023 season, including three centuries and five 50-plus stands.

"He (Kohli) has played really good cricket throughout the season. It just shows you Virat has got a lot left in the tank in T20 cricket as he is playing really well still," RCB skipper du Plessis said of his teammate.

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