Kohli runs riot for India
Virat Kohli produced one of the finest innings in one-day international history to lead India to a stunning six-wicket victory over Pakistan in the Asia Cup.
The 23-year-old batsman thumped 183 from 148 balls, the best individual score in ODIs against Pakistan, in a truly devastating exhibition of timing, power and precision at the Shere Bangla Stadium in Dhaka.
Kohli’s blistering knock, which featured 22 fours and one six, ensured Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side comfortably hunted down an imposing target of 330 with 12 balls unused, thereby completing their highest successful chase in this form of the game.
It also overshadowed a mammoth partnership of 224 between Pakistan openers Nasir Jamshed and Mohammad Hafeez, who were scarcely troubled en route to 112 and 105 respectively.
Younus Khan contributed a rapid 52 to Pakistan’s impressive 329 for six, but Kohli then dominated stands of 133 with Sachin Tendulkar and 172 with Rohit Sharma as his side overcame the early loss of Gautam Gambhir for a duck.
By avoiding defeat inside 40 overs, Pakistan did at least secure a place in the final. India must hope hosts Bangladesh are not able to record a win over Sri Lanka in Tuesday's last group fixture.
After loading their team with bowlers, Pakistan could hardly have asked for more from their batsmen.
Jamshed, a powerful left-hander, cracked Praveen Kumar for three fours in the third over of the match and was particularly strong between mid-on and square leg as he coasted to a maiden ODI hundred from 98 deliveries.
He did survive a brief scare on 69 when Tendulkar put down a sharp caught-and-bowled chance, but there was little else to worry Jamshed or Hafeez, who played a number of typically elegant strokes in reaching his own century – off five balls more than his partner.
The batting powerplay, enforced at the start of the 36th over, brought brief respite for India as the duo departed in quick succession. Jamshed top-edged Ravichandran Ashwin to Irfan Pathan at short third man, while Hafeez fell leg before to an Ashok Dinda slower ball.
Younus cracked six fours in a breezy 34-ball cameo that maintained Pakistan’s momentum in the closing overs, and India had further reason for concern when Gambhir played across Hafeez’s second delivery to be lbw.
Yet Kohli and Tendulkar, finally freed from the pressure that burdened his quest for a 100th international hundred, counter-attacked magnificently.
Tendulkar’s only real discomfort came against the wily Saeed Ajmal, who eventually had the Little Master caught at slip by Younus for 52.
By the time the next wicket fell, however, India were almost home, Rohit having provided the perfect support to the rampant Kohli with a well-paced innings of 68.
Left-arm paceman Wahab Riaz came in for particular punishment, conceding 50 from four overs as Kohli displayed his full range of strokes.
India’s matchwinner fell to Gul with 12 needed, the seamer having accounted for Rohit in his previous over, but Kohli’s tour de force will live long in the memory of those who witnessed it.