A stunning 183 from India’s batting sensation Virat Kohli powered the team to a crucial six-wicket victory over Pakistan in their Asia Cup encounter in Dhaka.
The in-form batsman hit one six and 22 fours in an explosive 148-ball knock and registered his third century in four matches, helping India achieve the stiff 330-run target with 13 balls to spare in what was the archrivals’ first meeting since the World Cup semi-final in Mohali.
While Pakistan still qualified for the Asia Cup final, India will have to wait on the result of the match between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka where a win for the hosts will end the world champions’ run in the tournament.
Kohli’s innings overshadowed the efforts of Nasir Jamshed and Mohammad Hafeez who earlier set the perfect platform for Pakistan. Jamshed hit a 104-ball 112 for his maiden One-Day International (ODI) century and Hafeez made a 113-ball 105 to help Pakistan post a challenging total.
However, Kohli and opener Sachin Tendulkar put India on course for the remarkable victory with a 133-run stand for the second wicket after the second-ball dismissal of Gautam Gambhir.
Tendulkar, who became the first player to score 100 international centuries on Friday, looked in good form and hit a 48-ball 52 before being dismissed by spinner Saeed Ajmal. But Kohli, whose previous best was an unbeaten 133, received valuable support from Rohit Sharma who made an impressive 68 in a 172-run stand for the third wicket.
Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq was left disappointed after his bowlers’ failure to defend the decent total but was impressed by Kohli’s innings. “It was excellent,” said Misbah. “Credit goes to their batsmen. While it becomes easier out there under lights, 329 was still a good score. But the innings by Kohli is the best I’ve
Nasir, Hafeez provide the platform
Earlier, Pakistan openers dominated the Indian bowling attack as they added 224 runs, their best for the first wicket against India in ODIs.
Out-of-form Younus also contributed a 34-ball 52 before falling to a superb one-handed catch by Suresh Raina. Shahid Afridi completed 7,000 ODI runs but managed just nine in what was an out-of-character innings.
In reply, Pakistan bowlers failed to match the class of Kohli who produced a gem.
“I still can’t believe what happened out there,” said Kohli. “I’m really satisfied. I would rate this knock and the one in Hobart equally.
“To be able to chase 330 against this kind of bowling is very pleasing.”
MS Dhoni was also pleased with the team’s effort. “They batted brilliantly and once you cross 300 it’s difficult irrespective of how flat the pitch is. But it’s about how you handle the pressure and the guys will learn a lot from games like these.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2012.