Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Faf du Plessis backed Virat Kohli saying “great players go through phases like this” after the former India skipper was dismissed for nine runs against Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League match on Tuesday.

In the match that saw RCB being defeated by 29 runs, a struggling Virat Kohli opened the innings for Bangalore and avoided a third straight golden duck but nearly got caught on the third delivery, with the ball falling short of the fielder at square leg.

Kohli, who has scored just 128 runs in nine matches, got off the mark on the fourth ball with a boundary and survived a few inside edges that missed the stumps but finally fell to Prasidh Krishna in the next over, for nine.

“We tried changing the batting line-up today and we feel that they can try playing positively,” du Plessis said in the post-match presentation when asked about a struggling Kohli being sent to bat as an opener along with him.

“Great players go through phases like this and we wanted to get him in the game straightaway so that he doesn’t sit in the sidelines and think about the game. It’s a game of confidence.”

Du Plessis admitted that his top-order batters are lacking in consistency and his side will have to to fix the problem sooner than later after his team’s second straight loss and batting failure following their 68 all out last week in the IPL.

“The top order is a trick we need to fix. You need someone in the top four to bat through and we haven’t done that consistently,” he said.

“It’s pretty similar to the previous game. If you hit the deck hard in the first few overs, it is hard to get away. The dropped chance cost us,” said the former South Africa captain.

Meanwhile, Royals captain Sanju Samson said his side’s run chase was “looking dicey” after 15 overs but they won the match thanks to Riyan Parag, who hit 56 not out off just 31 balls. The 20-year-old smashed 30 off the last two overs to steer Royals to a competitive total before pace bowler Kuldeep Sen took 4/20.

“We have been backing him (Parag) and he came in and showed the world how explosive he can be,” Samson said.

“We were 10-15 runs short with no dew and the wicket turning a bit. We were waiting for the back end of the batting order to go out and win matches. Almost everyone has put up a match-winning performance until now.”

He said the chat before Royals’ run chase was about putting pressure on the opposition as it is tough for batters to change gears.

“In this kind of conditions, it was a matter of putting pressure. We do make a couple of changes here and there based on the opponents and conditions. But it is important to give clarity to people who are being dropped. Credit to Karun (Nair) to accept and understand that we needed (Daryll) Mitchell’s one over today and he can come in later.”

After being awarded the player of the match, Parag said, “A little bit of satisfaction. The Royals have backed me for the last three years and I am paying off bit by bit. I love pressure and try to showcase my abilities and do my best.”

“During the timeout, we agreed on 140 to be a good score and we tried that and worked well in the end,” said Parag, who also took four catches.

“Hasaranga’s second over to me, I wanted to target him but had to curtail it because we lost wickets and then go after Hazlewood and Harshal.”

(With inputs from AFP)