Talismanic batter Virat Kohli praised the "very, very special" performance of Rajat Patidar, the unlikely hero of Royal Challengers Bangalore's 14-run win in the Eliminator match of IPL 2022 over newbies Lucknow Super Giants.
On Wednesday, at the Eden Gardens, Patidar cruised to a 49-ball century to remain unbeaten on 112 to set the base for Bangalore's victory and set up their Qualifier 2 clash with Rajasthan Royals on Friday in Ahmedabad.
"The magnitude of the game was so big that I was feeling the tension in the air because I have been in those situations where you have to cross the line as a team. What he did was very, very special, I don't think that anyone should take that for granted. You should understand the excellence of the innings and appreciate as a cricketer to watch an innings like that," said Kohli in a post-match chat video with Patidar uploaded on IPL website.
Patidar, a top-order batter from Madhya Pradesh who was drafted into the side midway through the tournament as an injury replacement for Luvnith Sisodia, came to Bangalore's rescue after Faf Du Plessis fell for a golden duck. His knock, laced with 12 boundaries and seven sixes, at a strike rate of 207.41, enthralled the capacity crowd at the stadium.
"I told him as well after the game as well that I have seen many impact innings and many innings under pressure over so many years. I have not seen many better than how Rajat played today. Under pressure, big game, first uncapped player in the history of IPL to get a hundred in playoffs," added Kohli.
Asked about his mindset while coming out to bat, Patidar explained, "Seriously, there was pressure but I had the belief that if I stitch a partnership, I can get the team to a good position. It didn't matter to me if I had played a few dot balls initially and had the trust that I could cover up for it if I stayed at the wicket for long. I had in mind that if a dot ball is played, then the mind will not be in pressure and irrespective of the bowler in front, can cover up later."
Patidar put on key partnerships for Bangalore, starting from a 66-run stand with Kohli, who made 25 and followed it up with a whirlwind partnership of 92 runs with wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik, who was unbeaten on 37 off 23 balls. "The innings I had played till now (in the tournament), it was played till 14-15 overs. Here, a couple of wickets fell and I had in my mind that if I save my end and get some runs, will take the team to a safe position. That was my focus," added Patidar.
Lucknow came close to chasing 208 but when KL Rahul fell in the 19th over to pacer Josh Hazlewood, the fate of the match was sealed effectively in Bangalore's favour. "During the chase, I felt if KL Rahul played till the end, then the match could be gone out of the hand. I was thinking that no matter what happens, someone get KL Rahul out so that we can come on top," stated Patidar.
Echoing the same sentiment as Patidar's, Kohli added, "At the end, there were a few tense moments. Obviously, it was a big game, but I think our bowlers held their nerve very well. Waniya (Hasaranga) how he bowled through his middle overs was outstanding. Josh (Hazlewood) bowling that important over in the end, and getting two wickets for us was crucial. Harshal was unbelievable while Siraj with the new ball was great and Shahbaz bowled his four overs well."
Now with the Kolkata leg of playoffs over, Bangalore will travel to Ahmedabad to take on Rajasthan in Qualifier 2 on Friday, where the winner of the match will face Gujarat Titans in the title clash at the same venue on Sunday.
"We were really happy that we got across the line. The best thing is we have one day and then we play again the day after tomorrow. Absolutely cannot wait to get to Ahmedabad and take the field again. We are just so excited and happy with how things have gone. We just want to go further in this tournament. Hopefully two more good games and then we all can celebrate," concluded Kohli.