Virat Kohli led India to a 101-run victory over Afghanistan in the Asia Cup on Thursday, scoring his first century for his country since November 2019. The outstanding batsman led India to 212-2 in Dubai after being given the opportunity to bat first in their last Super Four game after their relegation from the competition. He was undefeated at 122 off 61 deliveries. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a seam bowler, then returned his five T20 best wickets for four runs to help restrict Afghanistan to 111-8 with Ibrahim Zadran still going strong at 64.
But the day belonged to Kohli, who scored his first century for India in almost three years by hitting a four and a six off fast bowler Fareed Ahmad.
His previous best in 103 T20Is was 94 not out since his debut in 2010.
In less than two months, on November 5, I will turn 34, and these past two and a half years have taught me a lot, Kohli said to Star Sports following his dismissal.
This is the last scenario I thought of (scoring a century), and it was a culmination of many different things, so those angry celebrations are a thing of the past, he remarked as he waved the bat in joy.
In a recent interview, Kohli discussed his mental challenges and how, in order to regain the intensity he “faked” during the dry run of form, he took a month off before this Asia Cup.
“The team has been friendly and supportive, and I know there was a lot of stuff going outside,” he said.
“Six weeks off I was refreshed. I realised how tired I was. Competitiveness doesn’t allow it, but this break allowed me enjoy the game again.”
The so-called “King Kohli” pulled up a 119-run opening stand with KL Rahul, who scored 62, to build the groundwork for the enormous total as the Afghan bowlers struggled on their second day of play following a crushing defeat to Pakistan on Wednesday.
In the competition, which acts as a warm-up for the T20 World Cup in Australia in October-November, Kohli scored his third fifty-plus score.
The Indian openers got off to a cautious start before Rahul and Kohli attacked the opposing spinners in the opening six overs with a barrage of boundaries.
The ball burst out of Ibrahim’s hands for a six on 28, saving Kohli from a missed catch, and the star batsman immediately raised his fifty in 32 balls.
Rahul reached his half-century with two straight boundaries off skipper Mohammad Nabi but fell in the next over.
After breaking the century stand, Fareed bowled Suryakumar Yadav for six runs two balls later.
With 276 runs scored in five games, Virat Kohli outscored Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan to become the tournament’s top run-scorer. Kohli’s innings continued to be all about hitting the bowlers to all areas of the pitch.
The 33-year-old Kohli has a distinguished career that includes 27 Test and 43 ODI centuries. In his impressive performance, Kohli hammered 12 fours and six sixes.
After losing to Pakistan by one wicket and exiting the competition, the Afghan team seemed weary.
Before Ibrahim carried his bat through and forced his team to bat 20 overs, they lost four wickets for only nine runs in three overs, with Kumar tearing through the opposition’s top order.
In a practice match for the championship game on Sunday, Pakistan will play Sri Lanka on Friday.