1020 days… that is how long it took Virat Kohli to score his 71st international century. Kohli, the former India captain, notched his maiden T20I hundred, and did it in some style against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup 2022 Super 4 match on Thursday. With it, Kohli joined Ricky Ponting as the player with the most number of centuries in international cricket and he is now only behind the great Sachin Tendulkar. Kohli’s special accomplishment amid speculations about his form and questions over his cricket career, brought tremendous joy to his fans and well-wishers, one of whom is former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar.
Kohli, already being counted among all-time greats by cricket experts has received huge plaudits from Akhtar, who appreciated the star India batter for his magnificent feat and expressed what he felt about the whirlwind unbeaten 122 off 61 balls. Akhtar divided Kohli’s innings in two halves, which he feels were very contrasting from each other.
“The first 50 runs Kohli made yesterday, that wasn’t the real Virat Kohli. I was seeing his real self in patches during this Asia Cup. But I saw the real Virat Kohli when he scored the last 50 of his innings. When he scored his hundred, it felt like Kohli was scoring at will and he was getting his form back,” Akhtar said.
On his official Twitter account, Shoaib posted the link of his video on Kohli and wrote, “He is finally back. @imVkohli is one of the greats. Long awaited 71st century.”
Akhtar, who since the last one year has backed Kohli to notch up plenty more centuries, weighed in on the prospect of Kohli hitting 29 more centuries at the international level and equal Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 100 centuries.
“Why the 29 centuries matter to me is because I feel he is the greatest batter of all time. Those 29 centuries that are left for him will be difficult. It took him some time to get to his 71st one. But now he won’t stop,” explained Shoaib.
A standout feature of Kohli’s knock was that it came from his bat while opening the innings. With Rohit Sharma rested, Kohli scored his maiden century as opener in international cricket, a move which came as a breath of fresh air. However, while the idea of Kohli opening may sound tempting, Akhtar does not see it happening in the long run.
“Don’t get confused by thinking that Virat Kohli has come to you as an opener in T20Is. That is not the case. India has some world-class openers and they utilize them and they were successful in getting the right combination on the night,” the former Pakistan pacer added.