Virat Kohli on Thursday brought up his 71st international ton – his first ever in a T20s for India – after a gap of 1,020 days to help the team end the Asia Cup 2022 with a crushing win over Afghanistan. Kohli, who took a month-long break from tours of the West Indies and Zimbabwe to come back fresh for the tournament, shrugged off his lean patch with his third consecutive 50-plus score. Also Read | ‘I told Babar, ‘don’t even think that…’: Ramiz Raja reveals his blunt remark to Pakistan captain over lack of runs
The star batter hit a four and a six against pacer Fareed Ahmad to reach his first India ton in nearly three years – his last hundred coming in a Test against Bangladesh. His previous best in 103 T20Is was 94 not out since his debut in 2010. Against Afghanistan, he stood unbeaten on 122 off 61 deliveries with 12 fours and six sixes to his name. Kohli’s 71st hundred puts him alongside the great Ricky Ponting in the list of most centuries. Sachin Tendulkar is still way ahead with 100 international tons under his belt.
India batter Robin Uthappa lavished praise on Kohli’s knock and said the maverick player has found his mojo despite “noise” on the outside during his blotched run. Uthappa explained how the ton will be helpful in taking pressure off the former India skipper.
“Yeah, well and truly. You’ve got to understand that no matter who you are, irrespective of what your records have been in the past, if you go for three years or 1000 days without having a hundred for someone who scored 70 hundreds before that yeah it’s going to get you no matter how much you block out the noise.
“It’s gonna weigh on you, it’s gonna be a burden on you and to break free of that must be very relieving for him,” Uthappa told ESPNCricinfo.
“You could see when the camera was on him on certain times, when they were fielding, him taking size of breath, you can actually tell physically that he looked lighter. It seems like something’s off his chest, finally.”
“From a cricketing perspective, very very happy for him because as a batter you understand what that feeling is like, you resonate with it. Irrespective of what circumstances this came under you can be well and truly secure that he’s back in form,” he added.
Kohli’s return to form augurs well for India ahead of the World T20 in Australia beginning next month. He credited his actress wife Anushka Sharma for standing behind him like a rock during the turbulent times.
“I know there was a lot of stuff going outside. And I kissed my ring. You see me standing here because one person has put things in perspective for me. That’s Anushka. This hundred is for her and for our little daughter Vamika as well,” he said.
“When you have someone next to you having conversations putting things in perspective, like Anushka has been… when I came back I was not desperate. Six weeks off I was refreshed. I realised how tired I was.”