With the first opener – Shikhar Dhawan – back in the hut as early as the 12th over of the innings, the onus of chasing another stiff target was on champion chaser Virat Kohli. The burden on Kohli’s captain shoulders increased when he saw a delivery crash into Rohit Sharma’s stumps. Sharma, after a decent start, couldn’t carry on and was dismissed for 21.
In walked Ajinkya Rahane, a player trying to cement his position in this Indian ODI outfit, with a lot of expectations. With the scorecard reading a disappointing 54/2, it was required that the duo stay there and lay a solid platform. They not only did that, but ensured India humble the hosts in their Asia Cup opener in Fatullah on Wednesday.
Caution and aggression
Kohli-Rahane partnership was a perfect mix of caution and aggression. During the first 50 runs, it was a Kohli show. The Delhi dasher scored freely and faced most of the deliveries as Rahane continued to play an able partner’s role. The ball was doing a bit early on, with the odd one keeping very low. The host’s seamers were bowling in a great channel as there weren’t too many scoring opportunities on offer.
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For India, it required a lot of adjustment, especially after away tours of South Africa and New Zealand, to dictate terms in the middle, especially with the bat. Kohli and Rahane did what the doctor ordered.
Survived the early phase, and went about doing business professionally.
Captain, you beauty!
For the record books, this was captain Virat Kohli’s eighth win on the trot. And, all of them have come away from home.
With this hundred, his 19th in ODIs, Kohli now becomes the batsman with most ODI hundreds in Bangladesh – five.
Today’s knock? Oh, how well did he play. His ability to rock back on to the back-foot in a flash, drive it on the up, slash it behind square and clear the ropes with ease makes him a champion chaser. There is no area where you can keep this run-machine quiet. He adjusted very early to the slow nature of this surface, and when the time came he opened his shoulders – first to accelerate the scoring and then to celebrate his 19th ODI hundred.
There was no punch in the air, no swearing, no shouts or signals to the dressing room, but just the raise of the arms and a kiss on the crest. Meet the mature Kohli.
While all the limelight went to skipper Kohli, very little went to the one who deserved the larger share of the success pie. Rahane, coming into this tournament with a Test hundred and a poor ODI series under his belt, faced a do-or-die situation. With Cheteshwar Pujara warming the bench, an ordinary tournament here can well direct him back to the bench.
But the Mumbaikar had other plans. He came into bat in a pressure situation and was happy to rotate the strike and observe Kohli champion another chase from the other end. There was no flamboyance in his stroke play, but a lot of thought and intelligence. The right-hander paced his innings brilliantly and played a perfect partner to Kohli.
Had it not been Rahane’s application in the middle, it could have been a different story altogether.