Virat Kohli receives 17 crore from the Royal Challengers Bangalore each season under his new deal. This is out of a salary cap of 78 crores. Yes, he probably proportionately wins enough games for the franchise that the figure could be seen as justified. However; this is not football, the fact is that IPL teams only have so much to spend. And diverting this amount of resources to one player only creates an unbalanced team.
However, Bangalore’s meek IPL returns cannot be solely pegged on financial mismanagement. After all, Rohit Sharma of the Mumbai Indians, for example, makes 15 crores per season. Bangalore’s issues seem to be more mental. Kohli’s genius and consistency seems to have bred a sense of complacency in the rest of the team, prevalent enough that even elite performers such as AB de Villiers and Brendon McCullum seem to miss a trick.
At the end of the Mumbai innings last night, as Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya ransacked the bowling and the score ballooned to an improbable 213, commentators agreed that the chase would be difficult, but not impossible. Of course, because of Kohli. Scarce mention was given to Quinton de Kock, the prodigious South African. Corey Anderson, the former owner of the fastest ODI hundred and a respectable Test record, has been considered a Hardik-level basher. It is because everyone pales in front of Kohli.
Bowlers miss their lengths in the last five with unerring frequency. Teek hai, Kohli will chase it. De Villiers holes out to midwicket? Kohli will have to manage. The fact is that not only the Indian captain only human, he is also burdened to an extent by expectations. He does not have the license to come out and whack at a strike rate of above 250, because his every failure is scrutinized. He started the tournament batting at one-down, to provide stability to the lineup, but he opened the innings last game.
Bangalore needs to refine a game plan beyond Kohli. Last night, Rohit Sharma grabbed headlines with his gorgeous 94, but he took the time to play himself in. He was allowed this time by Evin Lewis, who bashed an enterprising 65 and took the pressure off Rohit. Right now, all the pressure is on Kohli. He may wear it as a badge of honour, and he did play a fine innings last night, but the fact is that a successful season needs a greater sense of collective responsibility.