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AHMEDABAD: An IPL title has eluded Virat Kohli for 17 years, but Royal Challengers Bengaluru coach Andy Flower praised the star cricketer for his enduring “hunger” for the game.

Bengaluru were knocked out of the Indian Premier League playoffs by Rajasthan Royals on Wednesday in Ahmedabad with a distraught Kohli tipping the bails after the four-wicket loss.

Kohli, 35, has led the Twenty20 tournament’s batting charts with 741 runs, including a century and five fifties, but failed to inspire his team to the finish in a roller-coaster season.

Flower said he was looking forward to watching the India cricket hero bat in the T20 World Cup starting June 1 in the West Indies and the United States.

“Working in the same dressing room with him has been a real pleasure,” former Zimbabwe captain and England coach Flower told reporters.

“As an ex-batsman it has been an absolute pleasure to watch him bat.”

Kohli hit 33 in the do-or-die clash at the world’s biggest cricket stadium and remained a force in the field as he ran out Dhruv Jurel with a bullet throw from the outfield.

“The way he thinks about the game – and he backs that up with an amazing level of skill, aggression and hunger – I look forward to watching him in the World Cup,” Flower said.

“I think it’s amazing that he is still evolving his game, even though he has got an incredible record already,” he added.

Known to wear his emotions on the sleeve, Kohli remained animated throughout the high-octane encounter played in searing heat.

He finally left the field disappointed, but with the orange cap for the highest tournament run-scorer firmly on his head.

Kohli was slammed by critics, including batting great Sunil Gavaskar, for his strike-rate at the start of the season in the hard-hitting Twenty20 format.

Rajasthan Royals stay alive in IPL, Royal Challengers Bengaluru eliminated

Called “King Kohli” for his prolific run-scoring, the batsman however finished with a strike-rate of 154.69 in 15 matches and smashed 38 sixes.

Former Bengaluru teammate AB de Villiers said Kohli, who had taken a dig at his critics, performs best under pressure.

“Maybe it was a blessing in disguise, getting a bit of criticism, because stuff like that motivates him so much,” De Villiers said on Jio Cinema.

Delhi head coach and Australia great Ricky Ponting also defended Kohli.

“It’s funny with Virat,” Ponting told the International Cricket Council.

“I think people in India just always try to find a reason… why he’s maybe not as good as some of these other guys in the T20 game,” he said, but added that Kohli is the “first pick for me for India.”

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