Virat Kohli finally ended the wait for his 71st international ton as he registered his first T20I century and he went on to play an unbeaten knock of 122 runs off just 61 balls against Afghanistan in India’s final Super 4 clash of the ongoing Asia Cup on Thursday at Dubai International Stadium. Kohli came out to open the batting alongside stand-in skipper KL Rahul as Rohit Sharma was rested for this fixture, which was a dead rubber. Rahul and Kohli shared a 119-run opening stand, which also saw Rahul scoring 62 runs off 41 balls.
India went on to defeat Afghanistan by 101 runs as Bhuvneshwar Kumar took five wickets with the ball.
After the match, KL Rahul was asked by a journalist at a press conference whether Kohli can be looked at as an opening batter seeing how he performed against Afghanistan and how he has done that role for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL.
Kohli has five centuries in the IPL, and all of them came while opening the batting for RCB.
To this question, Rahul replied: “Toh kya mai khud beth jaun? (So what? Should I sit out?)”
Rahul went on to say that it was important for the team that Kohli find his touch, but added that he can score runs from No.3 as well.
“Obviously, Virat scoring runs is a huge bonus for the team, and the way he played today against Afghanistan, I know he is very very pleased with how he batted today. He has been working on his game and that worked beautifully today. As a team, it is important for every player to get time out in the middle,” Rahul said.
“You get confidence if you play 2-3 innings, really happy that he could play that way. You all know Virat Kohli, you have been watching him for so many years, it is not like he will only score centuries if he opens the batting, if he bats at No.3, he can then also score centuries. It is all about roles and what role a certain player has,” he added.
“The role Virat had today, he played it beautifully. In the next series we play, his role would be different,” he added.
Kohli’s innings in the clash against Afghanistan was studded with 12 fours and 6 sixes. With this century, he brought up his first international ton since November 2019. After bringing up the landmark, there was visible relief on the former Indian skipper’s face.
“Obviously, the celebration by Virat was more of relief. There has been no change in his mindset, attitude, and work ethic in the last 2-3 years. There has been no difference in the way he prepares for the game. He has always had that desire, I think we are also very obsessed with numbers, obsessed with those three digits and we think, if someone is scoring hundreds, then only he is in form. His contributions have been phenomenal in the last 2-3 years,” said Rahul.
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“As a player, you always want to be perfect or you want to challenge yourself towards excellency, he has always been that player. Even during this phase, he has remained in the moment and he has worked on his game. That has been a learning for our entire group,” he went on to say.
“In that dressing room, none of us are surprised to see what he has done today. I am sure this will give him even more confidence, he will obviously cherish this hundred and this will build a great confidence around the group as well,” he added.