Virat Kohli fires T20 World Cup warning after long-awaited ton
India’s Virat Kohli says he was “pleasantly surprised” to get his long-awaited century in the short format as he targets more runs in the upcoming T20 World Cup.
After an absence of 1,020 days, Kohli hit his first T20 century for India on Thursday, his 71st international century, to help India defeat Afghanistan in Dubai and win the Asia Cup.
India’s tournament run came to an early end as they were defeated by Pakistan and Sri Lanka in their opening two Super Four games; each of these teams advanced to Sunday’s final with two victories each.
But Kohli overcame his protracted slump to smash two consecutive half-centuries, followed by an unbeaten 122 off 61 balls, and now leads the tournament’s batting chart with 276 runs in five games.
“This tournament was important for us,” Kohli said in an interview with skipper Rohit Sharma on India’s cricket board website.
“We got an exposure of a knockout stage, of being under pressure but our goal is the World Cup in Australia and we are improving as a team. We will learn from the matches that didn’t go our way.”
The 33-year-old Kohli took a month off from his tours of the West Indies and Zimbabwe so that he could return rested for the competition, which serves as a warm-up for the T20 format’s championship match.
Laughs, mutual admiration & a lot of respect 😎- by @ameyatilak
— BCCI (@BCCI) September 9, 2022
Only former captain M.S. Kohli acknowledged Kohli’s mental troubles during the competition. When he gave up his position as Test captain, Dhoni reached out to him.
“The way you all gave me space, I felt relaxed,” Kohli told Rohit.
“I was excited and I had to play like this because we have the big World Cup coming and if I play well I can contribute more to the team.”
Despite scoring two half-centuries in losing causes—against Pakistan and then Hong Kong—most Kohli’s recent performance dispelled any concerns about his form.
The always aggressive Kohli, who is wed to Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma, waved his bat in celebration. And grinned before pulling off his gloves to kiss his wedding band.
“To be honest I was shocked that a century will come first in this format after a long time,” Kohli, who was visibly happy after the knock and seen breaking into a jig while fielding, said with a laugh.
“I pleasantly surprised and very grateful and honoured right now.”
Kohli’s long-time IPL friend and former teammate at Royal Challengers Bangalore A.B. de Villiers tweeted: “@imVkohli dancing again! What a lovely sight.
“When I spoke to him yesterday I knew something was brewing Well played my friend.”
KL Rahul, who shared an opening stand of 119 with Kohli in the Afghanistan win, said:
“There was no difference to his mindset, attitude and work ethic in the last 2-3 years. Or before that when he used to score 100s every second game.”
As he pounded the Afghan bowlers into the ground, Kohli hit six sixes and 12 fours.
“I am very happy, especially from the team’s point of view. That I am back to playing in my template that I have played for a while,” the former captain said.
“Which I was going away from because I was a bit desperate to do something which is not in my game.”
The outstanding batsman, known as “King Kohli” for his prolific scoring, has also scored 43 ODI hundreds. And 27 Test centuries during his distinguished international career, which began in 2008 with an ODI in Sri Lanka.
Before travelling to Australia to compete for the ICC title, India will host South Africa and Australia for white-ball matches.
India won the previous Asia Cup, which played in a 50-over format, in 2018. But their last ICC trophy was the Champions Trophy, which they won in 2013. Kohli is still confident that India will perform well in the upcoming months.
“I see the next couple of months as a great phase where we play quality teams. We go to Australia, we have preparation time. And I have no doubt we will absolutely ready come the first game of the World Cup,” he said.