Asia Cup 2022: Kohli finally at peace with himself

Batsman ends century drought as India end campaign with big win over Afghanistan



India's Virat Kohli celebrates after scoring a century against Afghanistan in Dubai on Thursday. — M Sajjad
India's Virat Kohli celebrates after scoring a century against Afghanistan in Dubai on Thursday. — M Sajjad
by

Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Fri 9 Sep 2022, 12:22 AM

Last updated: Fri 9 Sep 2022, 12:26 AM

A couple of weeks after admitting to faking intensity in matches while talking about his mental health during the greatest crisis in his cricketing life, Virat Kohli took off the helmet, raised his bat, bowed to the crowd and kissed his ring before pointing to the heaven.

A hellish wait had just ended.

The beleaguered superstar had just ended his 1,021 days of wait for an international hundred with his first century in T20 International cricket.

But he would not let out a roar.

He didn’t need to.

After showing his vintage touch, Kohli was at peace with himself finally.

It was on the back of Kohli’s majestic 122 off 62 balls that India made an imposing 212 for two against Afghanistan in the inconsequential DP World Asia Cup match at the half-full Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Thursday.

In reply, the Bhuvneshwar Kumar-inspired bowling attack restricted Afghans to 111 for eight as India bowed out of the tournament with a 101- run victory.

Pace bowler Kumar produced a devastating spell with the new ball as he returned with figures of 4-1-4-5.

But the day clearly belonged to Kohli who equalled Australian legend Ricky Ponting with his 71st international tons across formats.

Only Sachin Tendulkar is ahead of Kohli and Ponting on the list of international centuries with 100 three-figure knocks.

Among the active players, Joe Root (44) and David Warner (43) are second and third on the list after Kohli.

Kohli's last century came against Bangladesh on November 22, 2019, in a Test match.

Slice of luck

The 33-year-old batsman, who hit 12 fours and 6 sixes, enjoyed a slice of luck when he was on 28 as he was dropped in the midwicket boundary by Ibrahim off Mohammad Nabi on Thursday.

But he was in glorious touch and shared a fantastic 119-run opening partnership with KL Rahul (62, 41 balls, 6 fours, 2 sixes), who led the team in the absence of regular captain Rohit Sharma, who was rested for the game.

Against a visibly tired Afghan team that took the field less than 24 hours after their nail-biting one-wicket defeat to Pakistan in Sharjah, both Rahul and Kohli enthralled the crowd with majestic pulls and exquisite lofted drives.

After Rahul fell while going for another big shot, Kohli shifted gears and produced an exhilarating exhibition of classical shot-making.

The cynics may point to the meaningless of the match as both teams had already been knocked out of the reckoning for a place in Sunday’s final.

His 71st international century did come against Afghanistan. But this knock is going to lift the spirit of a cricket-obsessed country just a month before the start of the T20 World Cup (October 16-November 13) in Australia.

“Virat scoring runs is a huge bonus for us. It gives us the best chance to be at our best selves before the World Cup. I am really happy that he could play like that way,” Rahul said at the post-match press conference.

“Even in the last two years, his desire to win matches for the country and his passion for cricket always remained the same. His contribution to the team has been phenomenal in the last three years.

“Look, every player goes through these ups and downs. But he remained focused and worked very hard. He will cherish this hundred and it will boost his confidence.”

Brief scores:

> India beat Afghanistan by 101 runs.

> India 212-2 in 20 overs (Kohli 122, Rahul 62, Pant 20 not out; fareed Ahmed 2/57)

> Afghanistan: 111-8 in 20 overs (Zadran 64 not out; Kumar 5/4)

KING KOHLI:

>> It was his first international century after 1021 days

>> It was his maiden T20I century

>> It was 71st international century

>> His highest individual scorer for India in T20Is

>> He completed 24,000 runs

>> He completed 250 sixes in internationals

>> He completed 3,500 runs in T20Is

MOST INTERNATIONAL CENTURIES

Sachin Tendulkar

Centuries: 100

Tests: 51

ODIs: 49

Virat Kohli

Centuries: 71

Tests: 27

ODIs: 43

T20Is: 1

Ricky Ponting

Centuries: 71

Tests: 41

ODIs: 30


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