Virat Kohli scored a ton off 53 balls against Afghanistan on Thursday.© AFP
Virat Kohli finally ended a long wait, one which had started from November, 2019, when he last scored a century in international cricket. On Thursday, the wait of more than two years and nine months ended when the former Indian cricket team captain reached the triple-figure mark with six off Fareed Ahmad in the 19th over of the Asia Cup Super 4 match against Afghanistan. That shot meant that after almost three years, Kohli hit a ton – which was also his 71st century across formats and his first in T20Is! With an authoritative pull shot against Fareed Ahmad’s short ball, he cleared the deep mid-wicket boundary to reach the momentous mark.
Kohli ultimately finished of 122* off just 61 balls, which is the highest individual T20I score for India. He surpassed Rohit Sharma’s 118 against Sri Lanka in Indore in 2017. He has also now equalled Ricky Ponting’s mark of 71 international centuries. Only Sachin Tendulkar (100) has scored more tons than Kohli and Ponting.
The 34-year-old had been under increasing pressure over the last few months for his lean patch. Some experts even questioned his place in the T20I team, as his strike-rate was not among the best in recent times. However, Kohli has now shut up all those critics with his scintillating knock against Afghanistan. Even before this match, Kohli scored two half-centuries and showed signs of returning to form.
“This Asia Cup will be remembered for Virat Kohli finally taking U-turn to peak form. Very aggressive, very impressive, very Virat Kohli,” Mohammad Kaif wrote on Twitter. His obersavation perfectly summed up what Kohli’s form means to India ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia.
Against Afghanistan, Kohli started with a measured approach and then went berserk. His innings included 12 fours and six sixes. The range of his shots was terrific as he regularly found the gap.
“Last two and a half years have taught me a lot. I am going to turn 34 in a month,” Kohli said after the ton. “So those angry celebrations are a thing of the past. Actually I was shocked. This is the last format I thought. It was an accumulation of a lot of things. The team has been open and helpful. I know there was a lot of stuff going outside. And I kissed my ring. You see me standing here because one person has put things in perspective for me. That’s Anushka. This hundred is for her and for our little daughter Vamika as well. When you have someone next to you having conversations putting things in perspective, like Anushka has been… when I came back I was not desperate. 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.”
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