Virat Kohli is “under a lot of pressure” in the ongoing IPL owing to the collective failure of Royal Challengers Bengaluru batters, feels former Australia captain Steve Smith who wants the Indian superstar’s RCB teammates to come good in the supporting act. Kohli has waged a lone battle for RCB this IPL season with 203 runs in four matches at 67.66 with two fifties. The second-best batter, Dinesh Karthik, is way behind with 90 runs in as many games.

Despite Kohli’s consistency, RCB have faltered with three losses in four matches throwing them as far back as the eighth spot in the points table. The likes of Glenn Maxwell, skipper Faf du Plessis and Cameron Green have been underwhelming so far with the bat.

“He needs the other key batters to stand up with him, and if they do that, they can turn things around for their season. But, at the moment, they’re not so a lot of pressure is on Virat,” Smith, a member of the Star Sports Incredible Star Cast, told PTI in an exclusive interaction at the channel’s studio here.

“I doubt he’d be putting extra pressure on himself. (But) some of the other top-order and middle-order (batters) need to help Virat,” he said.

Smith warned that Kohli is not going to score runs in every match and RCB batters must get their act together.

“He started the campaign really well in the IPL and he needs some support. He’s not going to score runs on every occasion,” he said.

“But, I doubt he’d be thinking that way. I don’t think he’d go out and put extra pressure on himself. He’d just go out and play and see what happens in that game.” Smith rubbished the criticism which Kohli has faced time and again in his career over his batting strike-rate saying that no player in the world can read situations as well as the Indian batter. Kohli has been hitting at over 140 in this year’s IPL.

“Virat is an incredible player. What he does really well, and probably better than most people in the world, is (that) he sums up the conditions and the situation of the game and plays accordingly,” he said.

“If he needs to strike big, he does. If he needs to bring it back a little bit and build some partnerships…You don’t need 180 on every ground; 150-160 might be enough on some grounds,” he added.

“Virat sums up the conditions really well and the situation. I’m not fussed about the strike rate,” Smith continued.

Smith also touched upon another controversy-mired sub-plot in the IPL — Hardik Pandya’s captaincy of Mumbai Indians and the fan backlash he is facing. He understands why Pandya has been subjected to jeering in all three matches so far, but also wants fans to stop holding on to the past.

“Yes and no. Obviously, there was that (booing) going on in the first two games. It sort of becomes a bit of a thing, if that makes sense. But, it was unfortunate, I think. I’d love to see them supporting Hardik. Obviously, there’s a lot of huge Rohit fans out there,” he said.

“A lot of people are a bit annoyed that he’s not the captain of the side. But, everyone needs to let go of that and support Hardik. He’s a wonderful player. He had a lot of success at Gujarat (Titans). He’s back (as) captain of the side at Mumbai now.

“The senior players need to help him out,” Smith said.

Being a subject of severe international scrutiny as Australia captain back in 2018 following the ball-tampering incident in Cape Town which led to him being banned for one year, Smith shared some insights on what it takes to come out.

“While all this negativity is out there, he has got to find ways to cope with it and mechanisms to deal with it,” Smith said.

“Everyone is different (in) the way they do that. For me, personally, I just block everything out. I don’t listen to anything; I don’t listen to any comments, or boos, or anything like that.

“It’s difficult to say, but you kind of just have to let it be. Block it out as much as you can, and just get on with the job at hand. I think the best way for him to turn people around is if Mumbai start winning, that’s the key thing,” Smith said.

Smith, however, rejected suggestions that the off-field drama has been a factor in MI’s three successive losses.

“One thing about the Mumbai Indians is (that) they’re notoriously bad starters in the tournament. They’ve done it on numerous occasions,” he said.

“I don’t think they’d be too worried just yet. But, they will have to turn things around really quickly. It doesn’t look good, 0-3 at the bottom of the table. They have to turn things around really quickly,” he added.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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