Virat Kohli digs his heels in to take on a big rival

After a break of just over a month from international competition, Virat Kohli returned to the action to score his 100th international Twenty20 match at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday. There wasn’t much fanfare that one would usually associate with an impending milestone by a top cricketer.

Just everything seemed normal. Located on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, the stadium was packed to capacity for the first of what have been billed as the two some marquee games – against rivals Pakistan – of the designated Asian Cup competition as a Twenty20 format to make the teams well. -listening to the shorter version of the game a few months before the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup in Australia.

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Fans were excited and eager for a big hit from one of modern cricket’s finest batsmen. For far too long he struggled to put the bat on the ball, especially after ceasing to captain India in all formats. All the changes have happened to him in the last ten months and more specifically after India’s inglorious exit from the Twenty20 World Cup last October-November.

As determined as ever, Kohli was ready to challenge himself against a Pakistani pace department led on Sunday by 19-year-old stunner Naseem Shah, who was making his Twenty20 debut. The express fast bowler had, however, played 13 Test matches and three one-day internationals, but Pakistan wasted no time in getting him into the scheme of things where he would be asked to throw 24 wide balls. speed.

Kohli was called up in the middle to face the third ball of India’s 148 chase after Shah knocked down KL Rahul from the inside edge. The pace had already rocked India’s opener and as Pakistan captain Babar Azam said in the press conference, Shah was super charged to play fast. Kohli left the first ball he faced no doubt in his mind but the former India captain was brought down from Shah’s second delivery. The ball tossed to a length for an inviting drive, got the upper hand, but Fakhar Zaman on second slip couldn’t fire a stunner to end Kohli’s tenure in the middle.

Kohli and India captain Rohit Sharma got their first taste of the young Pakistani speedman’s potential. Kohli spent 47 minutes and 34 uncertain balls taking on Shah, Shahnawaz Dhani, Haris Rauf, leg spinner Shadab Khan and left arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz. There was the trademark shot when Dahani dug in short and it looked like Kohli would be fierce too to thwart an impressive Pakistani pack.

The Indian batters needed a bit of luck to survive the first bursts from Shah and Dahani. Top Kohli edged a six from Rauf and the square led Dahani. It wasn’t an easy job in the middle for Sharma and Kohli, even though the target was 148 (at 7.4+ asking rate). Even the slow bowlers didn’t leave the wiggle room for a few quick runs.

Kohli was able to send the pacemakers’ short balls to the fence as the second pair of wickets added 49 for the second wicket. Then things started to shake up with the introduction of left arm spinner Nawaz who entered the game with the experience of 30 games under his belt. He referred to an error by Sharma, who was caught in the sinkhole and also Kohl, who lifted the bowler into the hands of Iftikhar Ahmed in the distance.

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Kohli’s contribution carried some weight; he was put to the test by fast bowlers Shah and Dahani and he came through the tough times and gained confidence. India have never played Pakistan as an opponent and the behavior of Kohli and Sharma has amply manifested this aspect. With a victory in the three-team Group A, India may have clinched a place in the Super 4 stage, but the competition between the two teams would be as intense as seen in the league opener.

There may have been gremlins on his mind as he faced Shah and Dahani for the first time, Kohli and the rest of the Indian team would have learned from the first match and would be better prepared to face him in the next game. and also probably in the final, which fans expect.

Kohli mostly made runs against Pakistan and on Sunday he proved his consistency, although he did not dominate Pakistan’s fast and spinning attack as he had to some extent in the previous game here last year. He has scores of 78 not out, 9.27, 36 not out, 49, 55 not out, 57 and 35 for a total of 346 points in eight Twenty20 games and for an eye-pleasing average of 69.20. Initially, he appeared to switch his arm, but settled in with the intention of keeping the rival attack at bay.

It was only his fifth game after his side’s unsatisfactory campaign here in the World Twenty20. However one might describe his tenure in the middle in the brush between Asia’s top two sides, he made an effort and luck was on his side, dropping off the second ball he faced. In the end, Kohli should be happy with his commitment against a top team and a rival who does not give the quarter.

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