India’s stand-in skipper in the Asia Cup Super-Four match against Afghanistan KL Rahul said that even though batting stalwart Virat Kohli was enduring a century drought for nearly three years, his contribution to the team was immense, especially in T20Is.
Thanks to the 33-year-old Kohli’s unbeaten 122 off 61 balls on Thursday against Afghanistan, India amassed a mammoth 212/2 before restricting the opponents to 111/8 for a massive 101-run victory at the Dubai International Stadium.
Kohli hadn’t scored a century for India since November 2019, but had scored 1,012 runs at an average of 50.60 in T20Is before registering his landmark 71st international century on Thursday.
Kohli was promoted up the order and opened the innings with Rahul. The change worked as the batitng stalwart ended a 1021-day wait by scoring his 71st international ton — joint second-most across formats — with Australian legend Ricky Ponting.
Rahul felt someone as talented as Kohli can score a century as an opener as well as at No.3 in the order.
“Obviously, Virat scoring runs is a huge bonus for the team, and the way he played against Afghanistan, I know he is very, very pleased with how he batted today. He has been working on his game and that worked beautifully (against Afghanistan). As a team, it is important for every player to get time out in the middle.
“You get confidence if you play 2-3 innings, really happy that he could play that way. You all know Virat Kohli, you have been watching him for so many years; it is not like he will only score centuries if he opens the batting… if he bats at No.3, he can then also score centuries. It is all about roles and what role a certain player has,” Rahul was quoted as saying by ICC.
“The role Virat had on Thursday, he played it beautifully. In the next series we play, his role would be different,” added Rahul.
“Obviously, the celebration (after scoring a century) by Virat was more of relief. There has been no change in his mind-set, attitude, and work ethic in the last 2-3 years. There has been no difference in the way he prepares for the game. He has always had that desire, I think we are also very obsessed with numbers, obsessed with those three digits and we think, if someone is scoring hundreds, then only he is in form. His contributions have been phenomenal in the last 2-3 years,” said Rahul.
“As a player, you always want to be perfect or you want to challenge yourself towards excellency, he has always been that player. Even during this phase, he has remained in the moment and he has worked on his game. That has been a learning for our entire group.
“In that dressing room, none of us are surprised to see what he has done. I am sure this will give him even more confidence, he will obviously cherish this hundred and this will build great confidence around the group as well,” he added.