Virat Kohli reached his first international century since November 2019 with a first T20 ton for India to lead Afghanistan’s 101 run in the Asian Cup on Thursday. The star batsman went unbeaten on 122 of 61 deliveries to propel India to 212-2 in Dubai after being batted first in their final Super Four match after their elimination from the tournament. Seam bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar then returned his T20 best of five wickets for four runs to help limit Afghanistan to 111-8 with Ibrahim Zadran unbeaten at 64.
But the day belonged to Kohli, who hit a four and a six off pace bowler Fareed Ahmad to reach his first India ton in nearly three years — his last hundred coming in a Test against Bangladesh.
His previous best in 103 T20Is was 94 not out since his 2010 debut.
“The past two and a half years have taught me a lot. I will be 34 in a month (less than two months – November 5),” Kohli told Star Sports after his knock.
He celebrated with a wave of the bat and a smile, saying, “So those angry celebrations are a thing of the past. Actually, I was shocked. This is the last format I thought (of scoring a century). It was an accumulation of a lot of things.”
Kohli recently spoke about his mental struggle and how he took a month off prior to this Asian Cup to regain his intensity, which he “faked” during the dry run of form.
“The team has been open and helpful. I know a lot of things went out,” he said.
“Six weeks off I was refreshed. I realized how tired I was. Competitiveness didn’t allow it, but this break allowed me to enjoy the game again.”
Dubbed “King Kohli”, he set up an opening score of 119 with KL Rahul, who made 62, to lay the foundations of the mammoth tally as the Afghan bowlers struggled on their second straight day on the field after a heartbreaking loss to Pakistan. Wednesday.
Kohli registered his third 50-plus score in the event, which serves as a tune-up for the T20 World Cup in Australia in October-November.
The Indian openers started cautiously before Rahul and Kohli took it out on the opposition bowlers with a flurry of limits in the first six overs.
Kohli survived a dropped catch on 28 by Ibrahim in the deep end when the ball shot out of the fielder’s hands for a six and the star batsman then lifted his fifty into 32 balls.
Rahul reached his half-century with two straight borders from skipper Mohammad Nabi, but fell over in the next.
Fareed broke the century mark and two balls later Suryakumar Yadav threw for six.
The rest of the innings was for Kohli who hit the bowlers to all parts of the ground when he outranked Pakistani Mohammad Rizwan as the leading points scorer of the tournament with 276 in five games.
The 33-year-old Kohli, who hit 12 fours and six sixes in his dominant knock, has also achieved 27 Test and 43 ODI centuries in a stellar career.
The Afghans looked jaded after going to Pakistan by one wicket and also crashing out of the tournament.
They lost four wickets for just nine runs in three overs, with Kumar tearing through the opponent’s top rank before Ibrahim put his bat through and let his team hit 20 overs.
Pakistan will face Sri Lanka on Friday in what will be a dress rehearsal from Sunday’s title fight.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)
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