Kirsten: We failed Kohli

Abu Dhabi: It has turned out to be another disappointing Indian Premier League (IPL) season for Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore.

After their loss against Sunrisers Hyderabad, they have slipped into a position from where they can only hope against hope of making the play-offs.

The team need to win all their four remaining games for the unlikeliest of play-off berths. And the team’s assistant coach Gary Kirsten, who flew into Abu Dhabi to sign a two-year coaching contract with Abu Dhabi Cricket, before his side’s next contest against Delhi Daredevils on Saturday, was of the view that they have done everything possible but things have still backfired.

Kirsten was of the view that skipper Kohli was taking a lot on himself and putting a lot on his plate despite the coaching staff trying hard to take the “pressure of him and South African ace AB de Villiers”.

“It is a team sport and he can’t win every game on his own,” said Kirsten. “It is not fair and it does put pressure on him. IPL is a very intense tournament and there is a lot at stake around winning and losing. The players feel the pressure and I think he feels it more.”

Kirsten added that he was really hoping that his side won their last match against Sunrisers as it would have meant that other batters in the team contributed in the winning cause other than the two stalwarts.

“Maybe with the Indian team, as there is a lot of good players around, so probably less test to Kohli’s individual performance. We have tried as hard as anything, but it hasn’t worked to keep him off the pressure,” asserted the coach of India’s 2011 World Cup-winning team.

In 10 games, RCB have won three, lost seven and it is clearly not a great record to show for the coach of Kirsten’s stature, having been roped in this season. The South African, in a lighter vein, acknowledged being the assistant coach was “quite nice” for the moment.

“It is my first year with RCB and it is quite nice being an assistant coach because I might be the second guy who might get fired and not the first one,” said Kirsten, adding: “It’s been a tough year for sure. We have got great players and every uphill team have a good team. It is a tough tournament and if you start losing games very quickly you can lose momentum and it becomes very difficult to win a game.”

Kirsten went on to elaborate that with the quality of players they have in the side, nine out of 10 times they would get past a score like what Sunrisers set (146).

“We were 55 for 1 after six overs, not even a 100 to get and you feel you will get that score. Pressure does funny things to people especially when you are not winning the game, it makes it even tougher. We just have to keep going and we have quality players but we need to get into a winning momentum,” said Kirsten accepting that RCB is a bit batting heavy as always this season.

“Yeah, I wasn’t involved in the recruitment of the team. The decisions were made at the beginning of the tournament. Everyone said it looks like a very good team.

“But yes, there have been areas where we have struggled, no doubt. I don’t know what the plan is and whether we are going to fill the gaps in the next auction or what, I don’t know. I can just offer my opinion, but someone else will have to go and make the decision,” said Kirsten, who though impressed with Chennai Super Kings form under Mahendra Singh Dhoni, didn’t want to predict who will go on to win the title after the half-way stage.

“One of the things I have learnt is not to predict a winner in cricket for a number of reasons. CSK is probably the in-form team at the moment. I’m not surprised with the form of Dhoni as he can do amazing things on the field. Funny things can happen in the knockout stage so can’t say who will go all the way.”