As he took off his helmet, raised his bat to the smattering of crowd in the stadium and kissed his wedding ring in his necklace, Kohli’s gentle smile screamed of the relief he must have felt. Probably, he would have least expected to bring up his 71st century in the shortest format while opening the innings with regular skipper Rohit Sharma opting to rest in the inconsequential match.
As It Happened
Only an event as special as this could have injected some interest in the match. His innings of unbeaten 122 off 61 balls (with 12 fours and six sixes), which had one blemish when he was dropped on 28 by Ibrahim Zadran at deep mid-wicket off captain Mohammad Nabi, helped India post a mammoth total of 212/2.
An all-round performance from #TeamIndia as they seal a 101-run win against Afghanistan 👏👏 Scorecard 👉… https://t.co/OAedZXiYCw
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1662657544000
The match after the Kohli knock soon became a drag after Bhuvneshwar Kumar wiped out the Afghanistan top order taking 5/4 in his four overs. And the drudgery ended with Dinesh Karthik bowling the last over of India’s campaign here in the Asia Cup as India finished with 101-run win, Afghanistan mustering 111/8.
That’s a 5-wicket haul for @BhuviOfficial and he finishes with brilliant bowling figures of 5/4 🔥🔥Live -… https://t.co/ZZb4wdDpcG
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1662654184000
For a man with great affinity for occasions, Kohli would have loved the moment came in a match with greater significance. Given how hostile things have been for him over the last one year, he will take every bit of good news that comes his way. Kohli arrived here in Dubai with question marks over his place in the T20 team. He leaves as India’s highest scorer by a distance.
The milestone we’d all been waiting for and here it is!71st International Century for @imVkohli 🔥💥#AsiaCup2022… https://t.co/Dpj6yi0AWL
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1662653049000
💯🙌👌@imVkohli #AsiaCup2022 #INDvAFG https://t.co/J8asz3zXpk
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1662650891000
It was India’s final outing in the tournament. Along with Rohit, Hardik Pandya and Yuzvendra Chahal were rested. For most part of India’s innings, both teams looked like going through the motions. Afghanistan bowlers, drained out by the emotionally-charged humdinger they played against Pakistan in Sharjah a night earlier, clearly looked jaded and pushed themselves to put out a similar performance.
Kohli and Rahul, who came into the tournament craving for game time, were not going to miss out. The sedate start in the first four overs of the powerplay may have indicated India’s struggles at the top of the innings but both knew they had to make it count.
They took on Nabi and Rashid Khan to add impetus to the innings. The footwork looked nimble as it comes with a clear mind. Perhaps, the pressure of a big game wasn’t there. Yet, it was a chance to get things rolling for them.
As Kohli started finding the fence with ease, Rahul got into the act and started out-scoring him before being dismissed for 62 off 41 balls which had six boundaries and two sixes.
Kohli was always cruising through the innings. But he took it to another level after the 15th over even as Rishabh Pant was struggling for timing. Kohli ran hard between wickets and hogged the strike in the last five overs as he put on 87 runs in 42 balls for the third wicket with Pant scoring just 20 off 16 balls.
He skipped down the track to Rashid Khan, effortless punches through the covers, the glides past short third-man and the swats through mid-wicket said he was batting in auto-mode all over again. Afghanistan’s two daredevil left-arm pacers Fazalhaq Farooqi and Fareed Ahmad found out what bowling against gold standard batting was all about.
Like the knock against Pakistan last Sunday, this innings too had a trademark Kohli written all over. As he has done all through his career, Kohli demonstrated that a T20I innings could be adequately paced by playing orthodox textbook shots and not the modern-day funky shots. If India looked for any positive coming out of the tournament, it has to be Kohli showing he is batting at his best.