Abu Dhabi: A bit of nerves, some hesitation and almost every good stroke going straight to the fielder -- Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli listed multiple reasons for a "strange phase" in the IPL for his side which ended with a loss in the Eliminator.
RCB lost by six wickets to a resolute Sunrisers Hyderabad after posting a modest 132 on the board despite a batting-heavy line-up in the Eliminator on Friday.
"Maybe a bit of nerves, maybe a bit of hesitation, we need to be more expressive with the bat. We didn't put enough pressure on their bowlers. We didn't have any phases in the game where we got away from the opposition," Kohli rued.
Kohli admitted that it has been "a strange kind of phase in the last 4-5 games" of the league stage. His side got through to the playoffs despite losing four matches on the trot.
"In the last 2-3 games we have hit it straight to the fielders, lot of good shots going to the fielders," he said.
On Friday, Kane Williamson struck a half century to ruin RCB's chances after he was dropped by Devdutt Padikkal at the boundary in a difficult attempt when SRH needed 28 from 2.4 overs.
SRH will now play Delhi Capitals in the Qualifier 2 on Sunday for a place in the final while the RCB were knocked out.
"It is a game of margins and if Kane (Williamson) was taken there then it is a different ball game," Kohli said at the post-match presentation.
"If you talk about the first innings I don't think we had enough runs on the board. We made one helluva game in the second half, the positions we got ourselves into in the second half," he added.
Kohli said his side just allowed SRH bowlers to bowl to the areas they wanted.
"Altogether they put us under a lot of pressure in the first innings. Few soft dismissals, few fortunate ones for them as well and we just didn't have enough runs on the board.
Talking about the positives from the tournament, he said, "Couple of people have stood up, Devdutt (Padikkal) is one of them, he stepped up nicely and getting 400+ runs is not easy. He has played with a lot of class and efficiency for the team. Very happy for him.
"(Mohammed) Siraj has had a good comeback. Yuzi (Chahal) has been solid as ever, AB (de Villiers) has been solid as ever. The others contributed but just not enough."
Kohli said not having home and away matches has made this IPL one of the most competitive ever.
"That also tells you the strength of the teams in the IPL, no team is run away favourites as such and every team has strong players. One of the other reasons is playing in only three venues and there's no home and away advantage.
"Similar conditions for everyone and that's the reason this has been one of the competitive IPL this year," he said.
He later tweeted to say the dressing room is in good spirits and he is proud of the effort.
"Together through the highs and lows. It's been a great journey for us as a unit. Yes things did not go our way but proud of the whole group," he said in a post which also a picture of the entire RCB squad.
Sunrisers captain David Warner talked about nerves as well but lauded the resolve shown by his side.
"My nails are okay for the moment. They (Natarajan and Rashid) have been of great impact for us. We like to bowl Sandy (Sandeep Sharma) and (Jason) Holder five overs at the top. Then we try to bowl Rashid and Natarajan in the middle overs.
"Rashid has a lot of pressure on him to perform. Congratulations to Natarajan. Kane is our banker. He manages to stick in there and plays the pressure innings. I am running out of superlatives for these two blokes (Rashid and Kane)," he said.
Noting that RCB have world-class batsmen in their line-up, Warner said, "You knew that wicket had something in it.
The boys bowled fantastically well in the middle overs.
"It is too early to say. We obviously have Delhi to play. We have been talking about their world class bowling side. But I am excited."
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Stating that Azam is a bit more of a tricky customer than Kohli, Amir added that technique wise he finds it tougher against Babar Azam as his stance is such that one cannot just figure out how to get him out.
Steve Smith said he brought his hands back to a more neutral position which had helped him stop slicing the ball.
IPL viewership saw a 23% jump versus last year to reach 31.57 million average impressions.