Pune: Virat Kohli gave another demonstration of his ability to anchor successful run chases in Thursday’s World Cup match against Bangladesh, and a 48th One Day International hundred was the icing on the cake for the 34-year-old.
A victory target of 257 on an excellent batting track was never likely to test India’s formidable line-up against Bangladesh’s modest bowling attack.
An 88-run opening stand between Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill set the tone for India’s chase and the familiar sight of Kohli staying put to seal victory sent the capacity crowd at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium into raptures.
Kohli refused singles more than once before smashing a six to bring up his century and secure India’s fourth consecutive victory in the tournament.
“I wanted to make a big contribution,” player-of-the-match Kohli, glistening with sweat, said after scoring his third 50-plus score of the tournament in four innings.
“I’ve had a few fifties in World Cups and haven’t converted them so I just wanted to finish the game off this time around and hang around to the end, which is what I’ve done over the years for the team.” Only compatriot Sachin Tendulkar (49) has more ODI hundreds than Kohli, who could not have asked for an easier start to his innings of 103 not out.
Bangladesh seamer Hasan Mahmud bounced out Rohit (48) but followed up with a no-ball with Kohli on strike.
Kohli smashed the resultant free-hit for four but replays confirmed Mahmud had overstepped again, which led to another free-hit that Kohli smacked for six.
“I was telling Shubman it was a dream start for me with two free-hits. It just calms you done and lets you get into the innings,” Kohli said.
“The pitch was pretty good, it allowed me to play my game and just hit the gaps.” Ravindra Jadeja also stood out for India, claiming two crucial wickets and taking a stunning catch to dismiss Mushfiqur Rahim.
“Sorry for stealing it from Jaddu,” Kohli said, referring to Jadeja.
“There is a great atmosphere in the changing room, we’re loving each other’s company, the spirit is there for everyone to see on the field.
“We understand it’s a long tournament and you need to create some momentum for the guys to come out and play like this.”