Virat Kohli finds his touch with a ton as Men in Blue go back home 

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Virat Kohli celebrates his century (ANI)

ASIA CUP 2022: Team India got knocked out of Asia Cup after losing two Super Four games to Pakistan and Sri Lanka

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Virat Kohli on Thursday scored the highest individual score by an Indian player in T20 international cricket. The star Indian batter accomplished this landmark during the Super Four clash against Afghanistan at the ongoing Asia Cup 2022. Virat finally completed his much-anticipated 71st century. He smashed an unbeaten 122 in just 61 balls with 12 balls and six sixes.

He has overtaken the score of 118 posted by Rohit Sharma against Sri Lanka in 2017. It is followed by 117 by Suryakumar Yadav against England in 2022, Rohit Sharma’s 111 not out against West Indies in 2018 and an unbeaten 110 by KL Rahul against West Indies in 2016.

Coming to the match, Star Indian batter Virat Kohli completed his much-anticipated 71st international century and powered India to a massive 212/2 in their 20 overs during their last Super Four clash against Afghanistan at the ongoing Asia Cup 2022 on Thursday.

Put to bat first by Afghanistan, openers KL Rahul and Virat Kohli got Team India off to a great start. Virat and KL continued their domination over Afghanistan, even after the powerplay. The duo kept the scoreboard running at a good speed. At the end of 10 overs, India stood at 87/0, with Rahul (42*) and Virat (44*).

Virat brought up his 33rd half-century in the format with a single. KL Rahul helped the team cross 100-run mark with a four in 11.2 overs and scored another four on the next ball to bring up his fifty.

Medium-pacer Fareed Malik ended the 119-run stand between the duo in the 13th over, dismissing Rahul for 62 off 41 balls after the batter was caught by Najibullah Zadran at long-on.

India finished its innings at 212/2, with Virat Kohli (122*) and Rishabh Pant (20*). Fareed Malik took 2/57 for Afghanistan. Virat finally completed his much-anticipated 71st century.

Kohli scoring runs is huge bonus: KL Rahul

Following his side’s 101-run win over Afghanistan in their final Super Four clash at Asia Cup 2022, Indian stand-in skipper KL Rahul said that Virat Kohli scoring runs is a huge bonus for the side and his work ethic, attitude and mindset did not change for those two and half years or so when he could not score a century.

A century by Virat Kohli and a five-wicket haul by pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar helped Team India crush Afghanistan by 101 runs in their Super Four clash at Asia Cup 2022 and end their campaign on a winning note. “Virat scoring runs is a huge bonus for us. He must be pleased with his batting today. He has been working on his game since the last 2-3 series and it has come off beautifully. If you play 2-3 innings like this, you get confidence. Happy he could play that way. It is not like he can hit hundreds only when he is opening. If he can bat at number three then also, he can score centuries and it is about the role the team wants him to play. Today he played his role beautifully. He will play his next role in the next series with good performances, no question mark about that,” said Rahul during a post-match press conference.

“That celebration (by Virat on his century) was more of a relief. There was no difference in his mindset, attitude and work ethic during these last two years or so when he could not score a century. It was the same, the desire and passion to win matches for his country have always remained the same for him. But, we are obsessed with numbers. His contributions over the last 2-3 years are still phenomenal. He is still among the top two or three run-getters in white-ball cricket,” he added.

About his team’s performance in Asia Cup 2022, which saw them getting knocked out of the competition during the Super Four phase, he said that the side was trying to challenge itself by batting first even though teams batting second earned more wins in UAE conditions.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar celebrates a wicket during the match between India and Afghanistan (ANI)

No need to overreact: Rahul Dravid

India head coach Rahul Dravid said on Thursday that losing a couple of games on a difficult surface does not make the team terrible and there is no need to overreact to things.

“I see my role as a support to the captain and the team. Helping the team to get the best out of themselves. But once they are on the field, it is upto the players and the captain to execute their plans and take the team forward. I think Rohit is pretty relaxed, and pretty much the whole team is. You got to put things in perspective,” said Dravid to broadcasters before the match.

“We lost a couple of games on a pitch, on a ground that has not been easy to defend on. Just because we have lost a couple of games, it doesn’t mean we are a terrible team. I think we do not need to overreact to things. It is a balanced environment, whether we win or we lose. We keep going on the same path, and the journey continues…,” he added.

Shastri questions decision to not include Shami

Former India coach Ravi Shastri on Thursday raised questions over the exclusion of ace India pacer Mohammad Shami from the Asia Cup squad where the fancied Indian team lost two consecutive matches and failed to qualify for the final.

Upset over the pacer not being included in the team, he termed the decision absolutely baffling. “Mohammed Shami sitting at home and cooling his heels baffles me,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Ravi Shastri as saying.

Shastri’s concerns derived primarily from India’s entry into the tournament with only three specialist fast bowlers. Due to Avesh Khan’s illness, India had to field just two specialist pacers in Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Arshdeep Singh, with all-rounder Hardik Pandya as the third seam option heading into the Super 4s.

“You needed that extra one… Someone like Mohammed Shami sitting at home and cooling his heels baffles me. After the IPL he had, for him not to be able to make the cut is… Obviously, I’m seeing something different,” ESPNcricinfo quoted the former coach as saying.

Shami had a stellar IPL season with debutants Gujurat Titans, who went on to win their maiden IPL in 2022.

The right-arm pacer took 20 wickets, but more importantly, was in peak fitness as he played in every match (16). His power-play stats were one of the best, tied with Mukesh Choudhary in terms of picking wickets. Both the bowlers took 11 wickets in the power-play. His economy of 6.62 was fifth-best among the 14 bowlers who bowled 20 or more overs in the competition.

India’s bowling issues against Sri Lanka arose from their inability to pick up wickets early on. Sri Lanka’s openers Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis smashed 97 in 11.1 overs to set up the pace for their chase. Despite the fact that spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and R Ashwin brought them back with four successive wickets, Sri Lanka had already covered a considerable amount of the target in the initial stages.

Harbhajan Singh questions team selection

Former Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh raised questions over Team India selection after their loss to Sri Lanka in their Super Four clash at the ongoing Asia Cup 2022.

He questioned that why Jammu and Kashmir pace sensation Umran Malik and pacer Deepak Chahar were not considered. He also questioned why in-form wicketkeeper-batter Dinesh Karthik has not been given chances consistently. “Where is Umran malik (150km speed)? Why Deepak Chahar (top quality swing bowler) was not there? Tell me if these guys do not deserve the chances ?? Why Dinesh Karthik do not get chances consistently?? Disappointing.” Harbhajan Singh said.

Umran Malik made his international debut back in June 2022 against Ireland after a breakthrough Indian Premier League season with Sunrisers Hyderabad this year, which saw him taking 22 wickets in 14 games.

Since then, he has played just three T20Is, having taken 2 wickets in them at an average of 56.00 and an economy rate of 12.44.

Deepak Chahar was also named as a standby player for Asia Cup 2022, but has not featured in any match during the tournament. As per sources, he can replace pacer Avesh Khan in the squad, who was ruled out of the competition due to health reasons.

Chahar made his return from injury during the tour of Zimbabwe in August. He took five wickets in two matches on that tour.

Dinesh Karthik also made his way back into the Indian team after a brilliant IPL season with Royal Challengers Bangalore, which saw him prosper as a finisher. He scored 330 runs in 16 games at an average of 55.00. He scored one half-century for his side.

Since returning to the India team, he has represented the nation in 17 matches, having scored 193 runs in 14 innings at an average of 21.44. His best score is 55 and one half-century has come out of his bat.

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