Bangalore, Apr 13: Cricket is a great leveller. Ask Virat Kohli how it feels after Thursday's IPL game. The youngster, flying high following his string of successes with the bat on the international stage, for the first time in three months, was being seen as a villain.
Since the tour of Australia from December, 2011, Kohli has not put a step wrong on a cricket field. From the Tests to One Day Internationals in four months time, he has received numerous accolades.
But, in the space of six balls on Thursday for Royal Challengers Bangalore, his life changed for the worse for a brief time.
In the recent past, Kohli has been treating bowlers with utter disdain when he was in the India blue jersey. But, as a part-time medium fast bowler, he, for once got the taste of his own medicine.
The setting was the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium. It was Game 13 of IPL 5 between RCB and Chennai Super Kings. For 38 overs, RCB had the match in their grasp, only to slip away in the next six balls, courtesy Albie Morkel's sensational assault on Kohli.
While few blame captain Daniel Vettori for throwing the ball to Kohli, the New Zealander had no other option. It was between Kohli and Raju Bhatkal. The latter had already gone for plenty and Vettori did not want to risk the 19th over. Also, his inexperience would have forced Vettori to opt for Kohli.
The sequence of the six balls bowled by Kohli to Morkel read like this 4, 6, 4, 6, 2, 6. Morkel stunned Kohli and his team-mates by plundering 28 off six balls. Suddenly, Chennai had come from nowhere to the brink of victory.
One hour ago, Kohli was dealing with Chennai bowlers in the same way. He had made a 46-ball 57. But, in a Twenty20 contest, things change so quickly that you hardly have time to think what hit you.
On February 28, Kohli played a Morkel-like over against one of the top bowlers in international cricket. Lasith Malinga was hammered all over the Bellerive Oval in Hobart by Kohli as India overhauled a target of 320 in less than 40 overs. On that day, the 35th over bowled by Malinga was ransacked by Kohli for 24 runs. 2, 6, 4, 4, 4, 4 was the run scoring pattern in six balls.
It is always hard to predict which team wins in Twenty20. Fortunes can swing in a matter of one over, like it happened in Chennai.
For once, Kohli felt how cruel the game can be to a bowler. It is part of the learning curve for this 23-year-old. He has to move on. A day will come when he might turn out to be the bowling hero. Or when Chennai visit Bangalore for the return leg on April 25, Kohli can take revenge against Morkel. That battle will be the one to watch out for.