Dubai, Sep 8 (IANS) Very few people would have predicted that Virat Kohli would break his drought of centuries in international cricket in a T20I match. But on Thursday, in a dead rubber against Afghanistan at Dubai, the wait of 1020 days ended with a sensational career-best 122 off just 61 balls in Asia Cup 2022.
After he hit his 71st international century, to be on par with former Australia captain Ricky Ponting, coming after a prolonged lean patch of nearly three years and a break from the game for a month and a half, Kohli himself was surprised over getting his maiden T20I hundred which took India to 212/2.
“I feel very blessed, very grateful right now. Last two and a half years have taught me a lot. I am going to turn 34 in a month. So those angry celebrations are a thing of the past. I have put a lot of things in perspective.
“Actually, I was a bit shocked because this was the format I least expected a century to come any time soon, but it’s all God’s blessings, I have been working hard and this was just a moment which was very special for me and the team as well,” said Kohli after the Indian innings ended.
Kohli was expressive in dedicating his 71st international century to his wife, actor and producer Anushka Sharma, for helping him clear mental cobwebs. “It was an accumulation of a lot of things, as I said. When I came back into the team, the team’s been really open and welcoming and helpful, given me space to work on my game. I know there was a lot of stuff going on the outside but they really kept my perspective right, and I kissed my ring in the celebration as well.
“You see me standing here like this right now because all the things that have been put in perspective have been done by one person, who stood by me through all these difficult times, that’s Anushka and this hundred is specially dedicated to her and our little daughter Vamika as well.”
“As I said, when you have someone next to you putting the things in right perspective like I have been, and Anushka has been by my side through all these times .. time away from the game taught me lot of things.”
With his unbeaten 122, laced with 12 fours and six sixes, in what was a mix of classic and brutal cricket shots at the same time, coming at a strike-rate of 200, Kohli was at his vintage best, using feet for taking boundaries off spinners and smashing pacers for fun. This was Kohli at his imperious old self, something which has made him one of the greats of the game.
“When I came back (after the break), I wasn’t desperate, I was grateful for what God blessed me before, people were talking about me not getting a hundred but I looked at how much he has given me already, so that really calmed me down, that relaxed me, I was just happy to come back, six weeks off, I was refreshed, I understood after taking a break how tired actually I was mentally and physically. “
“Your competitiveness doesn’t allow you to take that call, but I think it was a blessing in disguise for me. I wanted to be the best version of myself for the team, and when I came here, when I started playing in the nets, I felt like my old rhythm was coming back, it was just about getting those performances in the middle again,” concluded Kohli.