After a half-century against Hong Kong, Virat Kohli scored yet another 50-plus score against arch-rivals Pakistan in a Super 4 match of the Asia Cup on Sunday. What everyone wanted from India’s top-order was a change in mindset and the strike rates of 175 (Rohit Sharma), 140 (KL Rahul) and 136 (Kohli) were a testimony to that. Skipper Rohit Sharma (28) and KL Rahul (28) were outstanding in the Powerplay while Virat Kohli (60) gave glimpses of his vintage self by playing one of his most sublime knocks in recent times to take India to a more than respectable total.
Kohli deserves the maximum credit for the total India achieved against Pakistan spinners, especially leg-spinner Shadab Khan (2/31 in 4 overs), who got important wickets of Rahul and Rishabh Pant (14).
His innings had four boundaries and a six along with his signature running between the wickets where he effortlessly converted ones into twos. He even reached the half-century mark with a six off Mohammad Hasnain in the 18th over.
Watch: Virat Kohli reaches the 50-mark in style
Virat Kohli has arrived with a bang pic.twitter.com/dH8FIqeaSN
— Cheeku. (@primeKohli) September 4, 2022
Having been pilloried for their go-slow approach in the Powerplay, skipper Rohit signalled his intentions in the very first over when he gave Naseem Shah the charge and got a one-bounce-four over cover point. It was followed by a signature pull-shot for a six.
Rahul, who has been subdued against Hong Kong, beautifully picked up the cue in Naseem’s next over when he read the slower one early to deposit it over long-off for a six but the shot of the innings was off the last ball. It was a helicopter shot which was pure reflex action from the India vice-captain.
As both settled down nicely, Rohit launched into Haris Rauf as 50 came in the fifth over and India were off the blocks for the first time in last three games against Pakistan at this venue.
The grammar of T20 cricket has changed and Rohit’s 16-ball 28 and Rahul’s 20-ball 28 had the right kind of intent as well as impact which is requisite in high-pressure games.
Though Rohit mistimed a slower one from Rauf and Rahul failed to clear the long-on fence off Shadab, they had provided the platform required for Kohli to settle down nicely into a groove before he started playing his shots.
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam cleverly used his spinners Shadab and Mohammed Nawaz (4-0-25-1) well within first 10 overs to stem the flow of runs and his ploy was only partially successful.
Thanks to Kohli and his positive approach, Pant got breathing space before he unchained himself with a pull off Hasnain.
There was another cover drive off Naseem as the former skipper repeatedly came down the track to disturb the rhythm of the bowlers even as he lost partners at the other end.
Kohli’s 50 came off 36 balls when Hasnain was deposited into the mid-wicket stands.
Ravi Bishnoi got a couple of lucky boundaries at the fag end when Fakhar Zaman made back-to-back outfield bloopers.
With PTI inputs
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