India v Pakistan, Asia Cup, Mirpur March 18, 2012

Kohli ends personal Pakistan drought


Since Virat Kohli made his debut in 2008, he and India have played just four ODIs against Pakistan. The Champions Trophy game in Centurion when Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Yousuf took the game away from India, the 2010 Asia Cup match in Dambulla where Harbhajan Singh sealed it with a penultimate-ball six, the World Cup semi-final in Mohali, and today's encounter. Before today, Kohli's scores against India's fiercest rivals were 16, 18 and 9. He was thrilled that his Mirpur masterclass has cleared that blot on his CV.

"I hadn't done too well against Pakistan, played thrice before. Even in the World Cup semi-final, I got out and I was really disappointed. Playing against them is always a high-pressure game, all eyes are on that game. It is really satisfying to chase down a big score in a crunch game for us."

Still only 23, Kohli already has so many big innings that he was asked to rate where this stood among his best knocks. "I rate this (equal) with Hobart but yes this is special because of the game today, to get a hundred against a good opposition." The Hobart demolition job had given India a chance of reaching the final of the Commonwealth Bank series if Sri Lanka lost their final match. The 183 today gives India a chance of reaching the final if Sri Lanka win their final match.

Kohli's innings really skyrocketed once the batting Powerplay was taken after 35 overs. At that stage he was on 110, and India needed 115 to win. Eleven overs and a spree of Kohli boundaries later, he was on 177 and India needed 23 more, raising an outside chance of a third one-day double-century.

Did the thought ever cross his mind? "I don't know, I was just looking at the ball and hitting it," he said. "It did cross my mind once and I was like, this can't be real and I decided to focus on the game and react to the ball. It sort of crossed my mind but it was about keep batting, keep hitting the ball."

Another offshoot of the lack of matches against Pakistan is the lack of chances to learn how to read the variations of their top-quality spinners, particularly Saeed Ajmal. "Well I have seen him bowl earlier as well but I can tell you that is not easy to pick him," Kohli said. "You can watch the videos but still to play him is tough because he can turn it both ways. We had a plan against him, me and Rohit, it kind of worked for us. He is a world class bowler, perhaps the best spinner in the world right now."

While the headlines will belong to Kohli, it was a big day for another young India batsman as well. Rohit Sharma hit a rough patch in the one-dayers in Australia, and had been deprived of opportunities so far in the tournament. He responded with a half-century, and the 172-run stand with Kohli put India on the brink of a memorable victory. "I am a big fan of Rohit Sharma's batting," Kohli said. "When he plays a long innings, he is a treat to watch. It is an absolute pleasure to bat alongside him."

Their efforts silenced a largely pro-Pakistan crowd. If Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh on Tuesday, Kohli will get a chance on Thursday to improve his Pakistan record once more.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 20, 2012, 10:24 GMT

    Kohli must be stopped next time i think he got over joyed and abusive after getting century ! Pak must make better strategy and mindset next time

  • Inam on March 19, 2012, 23:12 GMT

    kohli is good but for god sake do not compare to any greats, he has not done anything yet for extended period of time, let's wait for a bad patch and see how he respond.

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2012, 22:49 GMT

    @amitgarg78, Sachin's average when India had been chasing a score of more than 275 in ODIs is 7 runs less than his career average. Quite the opposite of a match winner in fact. Only Sehwag, Ganguly and Laxman for India have managed to do worse. In terms of match winners with the bat for India, Kapil Dev and Dhoni are the ones in ODI. See

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2012, 18:16 GMT

    Funny to note that Kohli is been compared with Umar Akmal. This Akmal guy has been in a team where no star/quality batsman exist ( translation = opportunities galore) and yet for last 3 years he has done not much worth while compared to the chances he got. Where-as Kohli had to scrape into a team with established batting stars and in 3 years he has outshone them to be now considered one of the best ODI batsmen, if not the best. In that context comparing Umar Akmal to Kohli is like comparing IanBotham to AzharMahmood.As for making fun of Indian is funny to note that they took six wickets whereas the so called superior attack of Pakistan took only 4 wickets of a team which was under pressure of getting eliminated and chasing a huge 300+ score

  • Kaustav on March 19, 2012, 15:29 GMT

    Yusuf & Jadega both are unable to bowl full quota & getting hit by the opponents then why not try Manoj tiwary... even he can bowl 4-5 overs of legspin...

  • kan on March 19, 2012, 15:15 GMT

    amid all compliments and hype around him, Kohli has to stay hunble, can't let his head go big, should keep his head on his shoulder, and should tell himself that he has in him to be the best ODI and Test player of the world, it is up to him if he wants to rewrite record books, it is how badly he wants it, all the best Kohli.

  • Rohit on March 19, 2012, 15:00 GMT

    Ashwin and pathan should be drop for the next game. And rahul sharma need to play in the final, he is a superb bowler and he shown their potential and skill in Aus. he is much better bowler than r ashwin . in palce of pathan vinay is very good bowler and he also used slower delvery better than pathan.

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2012, 14:42 GMT

    I was very suspicious about VIRAT's potential, now I agree he is UP there and I was truly touched when he humbly said without ego that "he is fan of ROHIT SHARMA" that really was touchy which shows Virat's good nature especially with EGO FULL culture of ours.... I agree ROHIT is a great batsmen , the future will prove it :)

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2012, 12:35 GMT

    doosra shusd be banned, like the aussie cricket board has done!!! harbajan is not bowling doosras after he has been complained,tat let him is compramise his quality of off spinn deliveries,even bcci is not encouraging doosra bowling bowlers even though they have not banned it!!!,in sports u shud not hide wat u are doing

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2012, 12:30 GMT

    bangladesh shud win against lankans tomoro, this is the best chance for them, and they shud be crowned as asian champions!!!!!!! how long they shud loose!!! they shud announce themselves as a good team in the world, this is the right platform for them from a die hard Fan of Cricket- from India

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