Virat Kholi reacts after scoring 150 runs during the one day international Asia Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan at The Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka. AFP/Munir uz Zaman
Virat Kohli was a man possessed, manufacturing shots out of nowhere; wristy, classy and at times condescending, befitting a man high on confidence. And Kohli's third century in four matches, starting from Hobart against Sri Lanka in the CB Series, gave India a remarkable six-wicket win over Pakistan in the Asia Cup on Sunday.
Having done their bit, India now have to depend on Sri Lanka for a chance to play in the final against Pakistan on Thursday. In the CB Series, their fate depended on an Australia win over Sri Lanka, which did not happen. Here, they will have to hope Sri Lanka, already out of the tournament, beat Bangladesh on Tuesday. A Bangladesh victory will take them to the final as the hosts have beaten India in the league.
A thunderstorm had swept Dhaka on Saturday evening. An earthquake early on Sunday morning measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale sent tremors through the city. By noon the roads leading to the Sher-e Bangla National Stadium were clogged with traffic and cricket fans heading for the much-hyped India-Pakistan match.
The match lived up to its billing. Two centuries in the Pakistan innings by openers Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed had most in the stadium rooting for Pakistan. They were a lot muted as India, led by Sachin Tendulkar, took the fight to the opposition. The monkey of his 100th ton off his back, the Little Master played some exquisite shots for a more than run-a-ball fifty to set the tone for the chase. Kohli stayed on to take India 12 runs shy of victory.
In the process, he got to his highest one-day score and even raised hopes of a third Indian scoring a one-day double hundred, after Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag. At one stage India needed 19 to win and Kohli 23 for his double, until he perished trying to go for a big one.
The hallmark of Kohli's innings was the way he paced it. He was scoring at much less that a run-a-ball after he had to join Tendulkar in the middle in the third ball of the innings, at the fall of Gautam Gambhir. He got to his fifty off 52 balls with six fours.
By the time he reached triple figures, his runs had overtaken the balls faced. With 11 fours and a six over extra-cover, he reached 100 in 97 balls. By the time he reached 150, the balls faced had come down to 131.
It was Rohit Sharma who was under the scanner. He walked in at No 4 after Tendulkar was caught at slip off a doosra from Saeed Ajmal.
Rohit was run out for four against Bangladesh and did not get to bat against Sri Lanka. This was after the selectors had kept faith in him despite a dismal show in Australia where he averaged 15.8 in five matches in the CB Series.
On Sunday, the stage was set for Rohit. The batsman took his time to settle down and produced a half-century.
It was slow, going by the demands of the match where India successfully chased their highest-ever total, bettering the 326 against England at Lord's in the NatWest series final in 2002.
But with Virat hitting 183 off 148 with 22 fours and a six at the other end, Rohit's 83-ball 68 was perfect second fiddle.