Virat Kohli in best T20 form of career despite IPL exit with Royal Challengers Bangalore

Second successive ton from former India and RCB captain cannot prevent team falling to six-wicket defeat against Gujarat Titans

Royal Challengers Bangalore's Virat Kohli plays a shot on his way to a century against Gujarat Titans in the IPL match at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on May 21, 2023. AFP
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A second successive century from Virat Kohli was not enough to prevent Royal Challengers Bangalore from crashing out of this year's Indian Premier League.

The former India and RCB captain cracked an unbeaten 101 off 61 balls in a rain-delayed match against reigning champions Gujarat Titans, which was his seventh IPL ton, overtaking Chris Gayle’s record for most scored in the tournament's history.

Kohli also passed the 600-run mark for the third time in 16 IPL seasons and became the third batter to record consecutive IPL centuries – after Jos Buttler and Shikhar Dhawan – to help his team reach 197-5 at M Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Bangalore had to win their final IPL game of the league stage to claim the last available play-off spot, but Shubman Gill followed his century against Sunrisers Hyderabad with an unbeaten 104 off 52 balls as Gujarat reached 198-4 with five balls to spare for a six-wicket win.

Mumbai will play Lucknow Super Giants, who became the third team to make the play-offs on Saturday, in the eliminator next week.

Table-toppers Gujarat and second-placed Chennai Super Kings will clash in the first qualifier on Tuesday.

“A lot of people feel my T20 cricket is declining, but I don't feel like that at all. I feel I am playing my best T20 cricket again,” said 34-year-old Kohli, who has scored a record 7,263 runs in the IPL during his career, with Dhawan second with 6,617.

“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.

“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 … I feel really good with my game at the moment and how I'm batting out there in the middle.”

Kohli started strongly in a 67-run opening partnership with captain Faf du Plessis, who made 28 to stay on top of the batting chart with 730 runs.

It moved Kohli behind Du Plessis in the batting list with 639 runs but Gill toppled the senior star to take second spot with 674 runs.

“Virat played an unbelievable knock to give us a chance and we thought that was a good score,” said Du Plessis. “But Shubman played incredibly well to take the game away from us.

“It just shows you Virat has got a lot left in the tank in T20 cricket as he is playing really well still.”

Updated: May 22, 2023, 11:24 AM