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If the second half of IPL 2019’s league stage were viewed in isolation, then Royal Challengers Bangalore’s four wins and a point from a no-result in seven games would be about the best performance by any team. Had the points table consisted of only those matches, Royal Challengers would’ve been near the top of the charts.

But the IPL league stage is contested over 14 games, not seven, and Royal Challengers – despite their valiant attempts – could not undo the damage the six-straight defeats at the start of the season had done to their campaign. After winning their final league game, their captain Virat Kohli described Royal Challengers’ IPL 2019 campaign as a “strange” one, but lauded his boys for showing character in turning their season around from disastrous to respectable.

“We haven’t finished in the position we wanted to, but because the second half has been so nice for us, it doesn’t really feel like a bad season to be honest,” Kohli said after the match. “It sounds strange, but having lost six and then getting six [five] results out of the [last] seven games with one point [for the no-result] is something you can be proud of as a team.”

Kohli also stressed the importance of hitting the ground running in a short tournament like the IPL. He said that even an odd victory here or there during the first-half of the season would’ve seen them into the final-four stage.

“If we focus on the second half, I think it was exactly what we wanted in the first half,” Kohli said. “After losing six games in a row, it’s very difficult to come back in a tournament like the IPL. You understand the importance of winning at least two out of the first six, and then you’re in the playoffs.

“I think the first couple of weeks really matter in terms of setting your intensity and path as a team and then following that non-stop. But the way the guys have turned things around, a lot of credit has to go to the whole team, to the management to get players in the right mindset. We’re just happy we were able to play the kind of cricket we can. At the end of the day, as cricketers, you don’t want to go out there and feel like hopeless every game. I think the way we played the second half, we showed what kind of a team we are.”

Despite Royal Challengers languishing in last place for most of the season, their fan support has been remarkable. In the rain-hit match against Rajasthan Royals last week that eventually began at 12.26am – nearly four-and-a-half hours after the scheduled start – the M Chinnaswamy Stadium was close to full capacity, with spectators staying through the torrential rain.

Kohli said the fans deserve better results from the team. “I just want to tell all the people in the stadium, every year we come and the support is even better than last year,” he said. “Hats off to you guys for turning up in numbers every year. We are so thankful and grateful to have fans like you all.

“I certainly feel your pain, because I’m emotionally attached to this team like all of you. Next year we’ll definitely improve our performances and give what you guys deserve in return, much better than this year. You’re the best fans in the IPL.”

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