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Exclusive - IPL 2022: All of us cheered for MI; Virat Kohli always tells youngsters to play for team & country, says Mohammed Siraj

NEW DELHI: Royal Challengers Bangalore players were seen cheering for Mumbai Indians for every run the 5 time champions scored and every wicket they took in MI's last league stage match vs DC. All they wanted was for the Blue Brigade to trounce Rishabh Pant's Delhi Capitals so that they could enter the playoffs.

Following MI's win, delirious celebrations broke out in the RCB camp. They will now take on Lucknow Super Giants in the Eliminator on May 25 (Wednesday) at the iconic Eden Gardens stadium in Kolkata.

Ahead of the Eliminator clash, RCB pacer Mohammed Siraj is confident that his team, which is still looking for their maiden IPL title, will emerge victorious against KL Rahul's men in the high-octane clash.

(PTI Photo)

"We are very happy that we entered the playoffs. All of us cheered for Mumbai Indians (vs DC in the last league stage match). Our captain Faf and Virat bhaiya talked to the team and encouraged us ahead of the Eliminator (vs LSG). Virat bhaiya has put in a lot of hard work in his career. He and Faf are giving pep talks to the team. He (Virat) said hard work is the only key to success," Siraj told TimesofIndia.com in an exclusive interview.

RCB have qualified for the playoffs for the third consecutive year. They have played three finals - 2009, 2011 and 2016. They lost the 2009 final to Deccan Chargers, 2011 to Chennai Super Kings and 2016 to Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Siraj feels RCB will clinch their maiden title this time around.

(Photo: RCB Twitter)

"I am sure RCB will do well and will win the title. We have entered the final thrice. But I am sure we will win the title soon. And that time has come. This is an important stage of the tournament and we are ready to perform. I haven't had a good season (8 wickets in 13 games). I am just motivating myself and want to do well in the playoffs," Siraj further told TimesofIndia.com.

Virat Kohli meanwhile seems to have found some rhythm going through a lean patch. A lot has happened over the last eight months or so. He stepped down as India T20I captain, stepped down as RCB captain, and was replaced as India ODI captain.

In IPL 2022 so far, Kohli has scored only two half-centuries. His run in this edition so far - 309 runs in 14 matches at an average of 23.76, also includes three ducks. But he is also the highest run-getter overall in IPL history with 6592 runs under his belt, including 5 centuries and 44 fifties.

Siraj feels Kohli cannot be tagged as an out-of-form batsman.

"A batsman like Virat bhaiya is never out of form. He always puts the team first and tries to score as many runs and win the match for the team. He (Virat) always tells all the youngsters - put the country first, play for your team and country," the 28 year old, who has been picked in the Indian Test squad for the rescheduled 5th Test vs England in July further told TimesofIndia.com.

"He (Virat) always backed me. I didn't perform well for RCB initially and despite that he retained me in the team," Siraj signed off.