MIRPUR, March 18 (PTI): Virat Kohli produced a blistering 183 off 148 balls as India notched up their highest run chase ever to register an incredible six-wicket victory over arch rivals Pakistan and keep themselves afloat in the Asia Cup cricket tournament here today.
Chasing Pakistan’s stiff 329 for six, the Indians rode on Kohli’s breath-taking heroics to pull off a sensational victory with 13 balls to spare in a high-voltage contest at the jam-packed Sher-e-Bangla national stadium.
Apart from Kohli’s career-best knock, his second century in the tournament, Rohit Sharma (68) and Sachin Tendulkar (52) were the other notable contributors as India eclipsed their highest successful run chase of 326 for eight against England at the Lords in the NatWest Cup final in 2002.
It was a stunning assault by the young Kolhi who smashed 22 boundaries and one six while Tendulkar also gave ample display of his vintage form during his knock. Rohit also marked his return to form with some glorious shots. The outstanding batting display by the Indians completely overshadowed the centuries of the two Pakistan openers Nasir Jamshed (112) and Mohammad Hafeez (105) who stitched a record 224-run opening partnership. But their efforts went in vain.
India, whose Asia Cup campaign was thrown into disarray after their upset five-wicket defeat against minnows Bangladesh, will now have to await the result of the last league match between Sri Lanka and Bangladeshon Tuesday.
If Sri Lanka wins, India will go into the final but a Sri Lankan defeat will ensure that Bangladesh take on Pakistan in the final on March 22. As per the rules, if two teams are tied on points, head to head record will be considered, so Bangladesh will go into the final as they had beaten India in their league match.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit Umar Gul to the boundary to bring about India’s victory, triggering off scenes of celebrations in the dressing roo,
The Indian run chase began on a disastrous note as Gautam Gambhir was dismissed in the very second ball of the innings with spinner Mohammad Hafeez getting the scalp.
Undeterred by the early setback, Tendulkar and Kohli unleashed a flurry of strokes to maintain a very good run rate.
With the burden of the 100th international ton off his shoulders, Tendulkar seemed to be in a more relaxed frame of mind and an upper cut six off Umar Gul brought back memories of his vintage days.
The pair brought about the 100-run partnership in 92 balls to keep India in the hunt while Kohli notched up his half century soon after by cutting Saeed Ajmal to the boundary.
In the next over off Wahab Riaz, Tendulkar posted his 96th ODI half century off just 45 balls.
Just when the partnership was assuming dangerous proportions, spinner Ajmal provided the vital breakthrough by evicting Tendulkar who seemed to be in sublime touch.
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez lbw b Dinda 105, Nasir Jamshed c I Pathan b Ashwin 112, Umar Akmal c Gambhir b Kumar 28, Younis Khan c Raina b Kumar 52, Shahid Afridi c Kohli b I Pathan 9, Hammad Azam c Kohli b Dinda 4, Misbah-ul-Haq not out 4, Umar Gul not out 0. Extras: (B-1, LB-3, WD-10, NB-1) 15. Total: (For 6 wickets in 50 overs) 329. Fall of wickets: 1-224, 2-225, 3-273, 4-313, 5-323, 6-326. Bowling: P Kumar 10-0-77-2, I Pathan 10-0-69-1, A Dinda 8-0-47-2, S Raina 2.2-0-15-0, R Sharma 3-0-19-0, Y Pathan 5-0-30-0, R Ashwin 10-0-56-1, S Tendulkar 1.4-0-12-0.
India: G Gambhir lbw b Mohammad Hafeez 0, S Tendulkar c Y Khan b Saeed Ajmal 52, V Kohli c M Hafeez b Umar Gul 183, R Sharma c S Afridi b Umar Gul 68, S Raina not outa 12, MS Dhoni not out 4. Extras: (B-5, LB-1, WD-4, NB-1) 11. Total: (For 4 wickets in 47.5 overs) 330. Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-133, 3-305, 4-318. Bowling: Mohammad Hafeez 9-0-42-1, Umar Gul 8.5-0-65-2, Aizaz Cheema 8-0-60-0, Saeed Ajmal 9-0-49-1, Shahid Afridi 9-0-58-0, Wahab Riaz 4-0-50-0. game.
In the second game, Mitani showed some aggression and led 7-3, but Saina caught up with her and then moved ahead to seal the match.