Note: This article was originally published in May 2020. The statistics have been updated with IPL 2020 numbers.
While the Royal Challengers Bangalore are yet to win the Indian Premier League title, it’s easy to forget just how good Virat Kohli’s record as a batsman is in the T20 competition. The India and RCB captain has been consistent ever since he made his debut in 2008 and the season he had in 2016 remains the most prolific for any player.
The furthest RCB have gone in the IPL is their three runners-up finishes – in 2009, 2011 and ‘16. In 2009 Kohli was still finding his feet at the international level and got just 246 runs. In 2011, he was in better form and scored 557 runs, including four half centuries.
But it was in 2016 that he showed why he is arguably the greatest white-ball player of his generation.
Most runs in the IPL (ahead of IPL 2021)
|AB de Villiers||156||4849||151.91||3||38|
Heading into IPL 2016, Kohli didn’t have a single century to his name in T20 cricket. He was by no means inefficient in the format, but the big scores didn’t come to him the way they did in Tests and One-Day Internationals. In the ninth edition of the IPL, though, he turned it all around in the most sensational manner.
Kohli ended up hitting a staggering four centuries in IPL 2016. This remains the record for the most hundreds by a batsman in any single edition of a T20 tournament across the world. To put things in perspective, the second-highest number of tons by a batsman in an IPL season is two – Chris Gayle (2011), Hashim Amla (2017) and Shane Watson (2018).
Most runs in an IPL season
|Virat Kohli (RCB)||2016||16||973||113||81.08||152.03||4||7|
|David Warner (SRH)||2016||17||848||93*||60.57||151.42||0||9|
|Kane Williamson (SRH)||2018||17||735||84||52.50||142.44||0||8|
|Chris Gayle (RCB)||2012||14||733||128*||61.08||160.74||1||7|
|Mike Hussey (CSK)||2013||17||733||95||52.35||129.50||0||6|
|Chris Gayle (RCB)||2013||16||708||175*||59.00||156.29||1||4|
|David Warner (SRH)||2019||12||692||100*||69.20||143.86||1||8|
|AB de Villiers (RCB)||2016||16||687||127*||52.84||168.79||1||6|
|Rishabh Pant (DD)||2018||14||684||128*||52.61||173.60||1||5|
|KL Rahul (KXIP)||2020||16||670||132*||55.83||129.34||1||5|
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“It’s a nice incentive (all his runs) for the way we’ve gone about this season, but not that nice to be standing on the other side of the result,” Kohli had said after losing the 2016 IPL final. “As a personal achievement, this is really special when considering that you have eight teams with world-class players.
“I knew I was hitting the ball well, so I wanted to contribute with the bat as much as I could and I’m really lucky that I was able to do that. Records are meant to be broken. Someone with a better season can break this (record of 973 runs). This is a classic example of not trying to break records. To be honest, I surprised myself by scoring four hundreds. We have to consider that I opened the batting and someone batting at No 3 or down the order would not have had that much opportunities to score big.”
On that note, here’s a look at those four centuries by Kohli in IPL 2016:
1) 100* vs Gujarat Lions
Opting to bat first in Rajkot, RCB posted 180/2 in their 20 overs thanks to Kohli’s unbeaten century and KL Rahul’s quickfire 51 not out off 35 balls. Kohli faced 63 deliveries in his knock and hit 11 fours and one six. Gujarat’s attack comprising Praveen Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Pravin Tambe and Shadab Jakati had no answer for the onslaught. Unfortunately for RCB, though, they ended up losing the match by six wickets after a 39-ball 50 by Dinesh Karthik. But for Kohli, it was a memorable first century in T20 cricket and a sign for things to come.
2) 108* vs Rising Pune Supergiant
This time RCB won the toss and opted to field first but RPS were up to the challenge. On a flat Chinnaswamy pitch, the visitors posted 191/6 on the back of half-centuries by Ajinkya Rahane and Saurabh Tiwary. Needing to go at nearly ten runs an over, RCB got just the start they wanted as Kohli and Rahul took the RPS attack to the cleaners. The hosts then lost two quick wickets but were aided by a 13-ball 36 from Shane Watson. RCB ended up winning the match by seven wickets and the star of the show was Kohli. The skipper put on a trademark chase and hit eight fours and seven sixes in his 58-ball knock.
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3) 109 vs Gujarat Lions
This remains an unforgettable match for RCB fans and lovers of the game in general. Asked to bat first on their home ground, Kohli and ABD put on a stunning partnership of 229 runs for the second wicket. While the South African was more dominant with an unbeaten 129 off 52, Kohli was brilliant as well in his 55-ball 109. His second century of the season against Gujarat helped his team win the match by a mammoth margin of 144 runs.
4) 113 vs Kings XI Punjab
This remains as, perhaps, the finest knock by Kohli in the shortest format. RCB faced KXIP in a must-win game for a spot in the playoffs but the match was reduced to 15 overs a side because of a two-hour rain delay. That, however, didn’t top Kohli from playing one of the most majestic knocks in the history of the tournament. Despite having seven stitches on his hand due to a split webbing, he registered his highest T20 score in just 50 balls with 12 fours and eight sixes. His effort helped RCB post 211/3 in 15 overs and win the match by 82 runs.
Kohli's numbers in each IPL season
Kohli added to his tally with his fifth century in the IPL in 2019. In terms of the overall record for the most hundreds in tournament, he is second on the list behind Chris Gayle who has six tons to his name. Kohli took apart the KKR attack in IPL 2019 with a 58-ball 100. The innings helped RCB win by ten runs after a tense finish which saw Nitish Rana nearly take the hosts over the line.
Correction: The article originally stated RCB had played only two finals. It has now been corrected with the inclusion of 2011 season.