Character, determination, temperament, controlled aggression and class. These terms define Virat Kohli's match-winning knock Saturday against Pakistan in the Asia Cup.
Kohli has played a number of great knocks for India in the last couple of years, but his 51-ball 49 at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, Dhaka, has to rank right up there among his best innings for India. Kohli's innings made all the difference in the match result as well, with India winning the game by 5 wickets.
India, who dismissed Pakistan for a below-par score of 83 runs, were considered favourites to chase the score without much problems. But Pakistan bowlers, primarily, Mohammad Amir, had other plans as he put in an incredible performance, taking the wickets of Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane in the first over.
India soon lost the wicket of Suresh Raina, who was dismissed by Amir for a single run in the thrid over. India were in the backfoot immediately. They were tottering at 8 runs for 3 wickets.
With Amir bowling brilliantly, India needed their best batsman, Kohli, to deliver, and the right-hander did not let the team down, playing an innings that showed a lot of character and hunger to help India win the game.
It was a brilliant sight to see Amir running in full steam and Kohli showing great technique with a straight bat. It was nice to witness such battle between a batsman and a bowler, a rarity in T20 cricket.
One had not seen a bowler dominate T20 cricket like Amir did in the first few overs of the second innings to scare India batsmen. Even Kohli praised Amir for his incredible performance in Mirpur.
"I would like to complement Mohammad Amir for the way he bowled. I actually congratulated him while he was bowling. I was so happy to play such an amazing spell. He is a world-class bowler," PTI quoted Kohli as saying.
Kohli did not go hammer and tongs after the Pakistan bowler as he realised the wicket was supporting bowlers, and with Amir and Mohammad Irfan bowling well, he had to see these bowlers off. The Delhi lad respected the conditions, but played his shots when there was any lose ball in the offing.
"Even if it is a defensive shot, the intent is positive. Counter-attacking is the game I play, that's why I bat at no. 3 but sometimes you have to respect the conditions and play that way," Kohli said. "It is very important to be able to change your shot at the last moment in such conditions. You need to be switched on mentally, stay calm and relaxed, cant; hit every ball out of park."
Learning lesson from previous mistakes is a hallmark of a great cricketer and Kohli did exactly the same after his failure against Bangladesh in the first match. In this crunch-match against Pakistan, he applied himself on the crease to hand India an impressive win.
"It wasn't an easy wicket to bat on, I wasn't too happy with myself in the last game, where I went too hard at the ball, wanting to continue the way I played in Australia. I had to respect the conditions, I made mistakes in the last innings but I dug in this time." Kohli said.