Virat Kohli equals Ganguly's 22 tons with sensational knock vs Pakistan
Kohli now has the second most hundreds in ODIs by an Indian. Sachin Tendulkar, who scored 49 hundreds in his 24-year-old career, is still way ahead of the international pack. Kohli took only 119 balls to reach his fourth international hundred at the Adelaide Oval. Three of them have been scored in Test cricket. Kohli is now only the first non-Australian to achieve the feat at the iconic venue. More importantly, Kohli became the first Indian to score a hundred vs Pakistan in World Cups - the previous highest was Tendulkar's 98 in South Africa during the 2003 World Cup.
Kohli had been in the form of his life in the Test series vs Australia, hammering four hundreds in four matches. But his run scoring abilities took a sharp dip once the tri-series started and it raised a lot of concern for Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men. To make matters worse for the Delhi dasher, Kohli was shuffled down to N0. 4 in a bid to be protected against the new ball in case of an early wicket. There were several questions asked about the move but certain former players and captains defended the tactics.
However, Kohli batted in his familiar No. 3 slot against Australia and Afghanistan in the World Cup warm-up matches and it was no surprise when Dhoni's deputy walked in to bat at one-drop when Rohit Sharma perished to Sohail Khan with the scoreboard reading 34/1 in 7.3 overs. Once he was out in the middle, there was no looking back. Kohli was not looking back at his abysmal form and nor was he thinking of the poor shots he had played Down Under so far. Despite lack of runs in the lead-up to India's title defence, Kohli looked confident and was not scared of taking on Pakistan's most dangerous strike force, Mohammad Irfan.
Kohli is known to flourish in pressure situations and that is what teammate Suresh Raina was banking on. The left-handed batsman had said his colleagues were not worried about the star batsman's declining form. In fact it was Raina who came out to bat at the fall of Dhawan's wicket and stitched another explosive partnership with Kohli. India were cruising and Pakistan's bowlers failed to show any kind of spark on a flat pitch at the Adelaide Oval. Raina played the perfect role to help Kohli's dominating mood - he rocked back on the backfoot to punish the pacers and stepped up the gas when Yasir Shah came back into the attack, hammering the leg-spinner for a six to move into the 40s.
Soon after Kohli brought up his hundred, Raina turned on the screws further smashing Shahid Afridi for his third six of the innings to bring up his 34th fifty off a mere 37 balls.
India's usually strong batting line-up was a cause for concern before the tournament started but Kohli and Dhawan played special knocks to dispel all fears. Now the onus is on the bowlers to come good and make a difference to the World Cup campaign.
This is a crucial match for both teams from the perspective of the World Cup - it also has massive historic connotation as India have never lost to Pakistan in five World Cup matches.
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