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Asia Cup Throwback: Virat Kohli’s masterclass ensured India’s victory over Pakistan in 2012

India vs Pakistan, Asia Cup 2012: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma emerge as beacons of hope for India in clash against Pakistan.

India vs Pakistan, Asia Cup 2012_ Virat Kohli's 183, Rohit Sharma's 68 led India's chase against Pakistan _ Walking wicket (Images_ ©Shekhar499_Twitter)
Kohli's 183, Rohit's 68 led India's chase against Pakistan (Images: ©Shekhar499/Twitter)

Brief Scores: India 330 for 4 (Kohli 183, Rohit 68, Tendulkar 52) beat Pakistan 329 for 6 (Hafeez 105, Jamshed 112, Younis 52) by six wickets

A virtual knockout, a mammoth 330-run target, and a ferocious bowling attack in front, India needed a miracle to win against Pakistan in the Asia Cup 2012 match. The stage was set for an epic showdown at the Mirpur Cricket Ground in Bangladesh, and it proved to be a thriller indeed.

The 2012 edition of the Asia Cup was a closely contested tournament between India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

Coming in to this game, the Indian side needed to shrug off the lethargic performance it had put up just two days ago. Depleted after losing to Bangladesh, India needed to gather its wits to present a decent show against arch-rival Pakistan.

Pakistan puts up 330 runs on the board

Pakistan skipper Misbah ul Haq won the toss and elected to bat first, and the dangerous opening duo of Nasir Jamshed and Mohammad Hafeez put on a brilliant 224-run partnership inside 36 overs to put Pakistan on the driver’s seat. Both the openers hit centuries to put Pakistan in a comfortable spot.

India then came back into the game, picking up nine wickets in the next 14 overs to restrict Pakistan to 329. Back in the day, India had the luxury of utilizing eight different bowlers, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni did his best improvisation with Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Sachin Tendulkar, and even Rohit Sharma bowling in the match.

Chasing 330 in a high-pressure encounter, India lost an early wicket, in the second ball of the innings, when Gambhir was trapped in front of the wickets by Hafeez for a duck. Tendulkar had just gotten the monkey off his back, scoring his 100th international century in just the previous encounter, and was looking ultra-aggressive, unlike his previous innings. He was joined by the upcoming mega-star, the man who had helped India chase 317 in 37 overs just three weeks ago at Hobart against a vicious Sri Lankan bowling lineup, Virat Kohli.

The past, the present and the future of Indian cricket!

India’s batting pillar for the past 10 years and India’s future pillar for the next 10 years were batting together, and it was like a live telecast of passing over the baton.

Tendulkar was the aggressor initially, while Kohli took his time. The duo targeted Aizaz Cheema while giving due respect to the magician, Saeed Ajmal, and fiery Umar Gul. At the 10th over mark, India was 58-1, just a little under the asking rate. If Tendulkar was driving the ball straight past the bowler, Kohli was flicking it off his legs. If Tendulkar was playing the good old cover drive, Kohli wasn’t behind either, oozing into the new-gen cover drive.

A masterclass of batting was on display, and spectators were onto a run-chasing feast. The master and the student had quickly identified Pakistan’s weaklings, and Shahid Afridi, Wahab Riaz, and Aizaz Cheema had no place to run apart from running to the boundary ropes to throw the ball back into play owing to the stroke play by both the batters.

While Kohli brought up his fifty in just 52 deliveries, Tendulkar out batted him to reach the milestone in just 45. Scoring at 6.89 runs per over till the 19th, India was just above the asking rate when Ajmal outfoxed Sachin with a googly, which he failed to read and was caught at slip by Younis Khan. With this, the brilliant 133-run partnership had come to an end. This also went on record as one of the greats of Indian cricket, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar’s last ODI innings, as he bid adieu to ODI cricket following this.

Those were the days when the current Indian skipper, Rohit Sharma, used to bat in the middle order. The two youngsters, Sharma and Kohli, were in a different mood altogether. As the old saying goes, the duo punished every single delivery that was asking to be hit and respected the good ones.

11th ODI Century! - Kohli ends the century drought against Pakistan

In a matter of a few overs, as easy as it comes, Virat Kohli brought up his 11th ODI century and first against Pakistan in just 97 deliveries. Notably, Kohli had previously scored just 16, 18, and 9 against Pakistan in the three ODI encounters till then. This was the first of many to come against Pakistan, and what a moment it was, in a virtual knockout against a pro-Pakistan crowd at Mirpur, with India down and out completely in the previous game.

Kohli was ably supported by Rohit Sharma, who rained shots against the spinners. While Sharma kept the boundaries coming, Kohli focused on his bread and butter, the ones and the twos. This was an early sign of how big Kohli and Sharma would go on to become.

After the hundred, Kohli just let loose; he took on everyone, be it Riaz, Cheema, Ajmal, or Gul. And the 42nd over just put a full stop to any doubts on whether Kohli would dominate the next 10 years or so. A young Riaz, bowling at 145+ Kmph, was taken to the cleaners by Kohli who hit three consecutive fours. Riaz, who was trying hard to take the wickets with his reversing swinging yorkers was shown the square leg boundaries on back-to-back deliveries. He then tried to take it away from Kohli with a wide yorker, and the latter guided the ball away from the fielders at covers to make it three in three.

Pakistan didn’t have any answers – A master chaser arrives!

The youngsters were making the chase look easy for India, and that’s when Pakistan finally broke the 172-run partnership with Sharma getting dismissed after scoring 68 runs.

Soon after, the whirlwind innings of 183 runs by Kohli, which still remains his highest ODI score, was brought to an end by Gul, but not before he had sealed the game for India with just 12 required of 18 for Suresh Raina and Dhoni.

A batting masterclass by Tendulkar topped up by Kohli’s chasing prowess led to India winning the match comfortably with 13 balls and six wickets to spare. Kohli touched the magical figure of 183, which is also the highest individual score by Saurav Ganguly, Dhoni. This was also a sign that Kohli would become the next Indian skipper after the Dhoni era ends.

To sum up, there’s nothing more than what the then Pakistan skipper, Misbah, had said in the post-match conference, “Pakistan’ didn’t have any answers to this onslaught!”

Though India did not end up in the finals, as Sri Lanka lost to Bangladesh, it was this match in which India’s two future superstars really dominated, and as they say, the rest is history.

India to face Pakistan on September 2 at the Pallekele Stadium in the third game of Asia Cup 2023


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