The Royal Challengers Bangalore got their Indian Premier League season off to a solid start with an eight-wicket win over the Mumbai Indians at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday. RCB chased down MI’s 172-run target in the 17th over, and central to that win was the performance of former India captain Virat Kohli, who scored an unbeaten 82 off 49 – with six boundaries and five sixes.

“It was a phenomenal win, in a home-coming after four years. I don’t think I could have asked for a better game,” Kohli said after the match.

“I thought we were pretty balanced throughout the whole game, until the 18th over (of the Mumbai Indians innings). I think in the last couple of overs we kind of slipped away from our plans – credit to their batters, especially Tilak (Varma), he batted really well.”

IPL 2023: Virat Kohli stars with majestic 82* in RCB’s win as MI lose opening fixture yet again

RCB won the toss and opted to bowl first. And immediately they put the visitors on the back foot, not allowing them runs on the board and picking up quick wickets. So much so that MI managed to put up a score of 29/3 at the end of the batting powerplay, and were later reduced to 48/4 in the ninth over.

MI eventually did manage to put up a respectable 171/7 at the end of 20 overs, courtesy of Varma’s heroics. The 20-year-old put up an impressive unbeaten 84 from 46 with nine boundaries and four sixes.

But the RCB openers, Kohli and captain Faf du Plessis came out swinging in the second innings. The South African scored 73 off 43 with five boundaries and six sixes.

“Me and Faf got off to a perfect start. (We) kept going, kept backing ourselves. Faf went first and then I joined in later. It was a very comprehensive win and we wanted to win it with balls to spare so it could benefit our net run rate a little bit. I’m very happy with the way things went today,” Kohli said.

That strong start was instrumental in the win that was achieved with 22 balls to spare. The opening partnership, which was worth 148 runs, put the brakes on any momentum MI hoped to have gained after Varma’s solid knock towards the end of their batting innings.

“The way (Faf and I) started nullified all that intensity that they were going to bring into the field. And then from thereon the wicket was quite nice to bat on. I think we hit some nice decent areas, me and Faf both. And we kept putting pressure on the bowlers which was very crucial.”

Kohli was asked about RCB’s chances going ahead into the season. But the 34-year-old asserted the team did not want to get ahead of themselves despite the impressive start to the campaign.

“I’ve wanted to mention this for a while. Apart from Mumbai winning it five times and Chennai winning it four times, we’re the third team that has qualified for the playoffs the most number of times. We’ve made eight playoffs,” he said about the team that has finished as runner-up three times.

“We do play consistent cricket. For us, its about staying focused on what we need to do one game at a time. And take things as they come and try to be the best-balanced side that we can be on the field, and that’ll be our aim.

“It’s a good beginning for us, we need keep building from this momentum. It’s a big tournament so we don’t want to look too far away. Just go one game at a time and we’ll just look to execute our plans the way we did tonight,” he added.