'Kohli unleashed so much aggression that...': Rauf's experience in India nets | Cricket - Hindustan Times

'Virat Kohli unleashed so much aggression that...': Pakistan pacer Haris Rauf's unforgettable experience in India nets

Oct 02, 2023 07:05 PM IST

Haris Rauf recalled his time as net bowler bowler for the Indian team, especially when he was bowling to Virat Kohli.

Haris Rauf's face-off against Virat Kohli at last year's T20 World Cup match between India and Pakistan has already become the stuff of legends. With India needing 28 to win off 8 balls, India looked dead and out, but Kohli's twin sixes off Rauf in the penultimate over swung the momentum in India's favour. The equation boiled down to a tricky 16 to win off 6 balls, but after an uber-dramatic final over bowled by Mohammad Nawaz, India won the game by four wickets.

Haris Rauf realised the greatness of Virat Kohli five years ago itself.(Getty Images)
Haris Rauf realised the greatness of Virat Kohli five years ago itself.(Getty Images)

Not many might be aware that interestingly, the first time Rauf bowled to Kohli was in early 2018/19 when India were in Australia playing the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Rauf, only 24 then, was one of the net bowlers employed by India for preparation against the mighty Aussies. As captain, Kohli was at the peak of his batting career, piling a mountain of runs and racking up centuries for fun. And it was during one of these intense net sessions that Rauf encountered the full force of Kohli's batting prowess, experiencing the sheer ferocity of the beast that he was.

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"When I was a net bowler with the Indian team, and was bowling to Virat Kohli, I felt like he knew exactly where the ball was going to hit his bat. He was very focussed and that showed how sharp his concentration was. Even during practice session in the nets, he unleashed so much aggression that, it felt like I was playing a match against him despite being a net bowler. His remarkable control and intensity made me realise why he has such a reputation in the game," Rauf said in his documentary on ESPNCricinfo.

Ever since that epic evening in Melbourne last year, Rauf and Kohli have crossed paths only twice, recently during the Asia Cup. They were seen exchanging a hearty laugh before squaring off on the pitch during the Super Four tie where Rauf bowled four deliveries to Kohli before being rested on the reserve day. Rauf is wounded from that Kohli treatment from October 22, and almost a year later, would be eager to exact revenge on October 14 when India and Pakistan renew their World Cup rivalry at Ahmedabad's Narendra Modi Stadium.

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