Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik celebrating a wicket
Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik celebrating a wicket

Guwahati: Expect Virat Kohli to put a foot wrong at the Adelaide Oval. You must be kidding!

With five international hundreds, the 33-year-old’s records at the venue are staggering. From his maiden Test hundred in 2012 to the twin centuries as Test captain in 2014, he’s also left his mark in white-ball cricket with a brilliant 107 against Pakistan in 2015 ODI World Cup before belting an unbeaten 90 against Australia in 2016.

And Wednesday was no different for the 33-year-old at his happy hunting ground. Banking on that 70-plus average at the Adelaide Oval, the Delhi right-hander walked out to a thunderous applause from the sizable Indian crowd and exhibited his class with trademark cover drives and square cuts to complete a hat-trick of fifties at the venue.

Kohli, eventually ended up with an unbeaten 64 off 44 deliveries, containing eight glorious hits to the fence and once over it, to help India post a commanding 184/5.

Virat Kohli after scoring his half century

Well, for the Test-loving generation, Kohli’s knock was an absolute treat to the eyes as he banked on sheer timing for those exquisite drives down the ground to give a classic tone to the innings. In the process, he stayed true to his set template of timing and placement in an era where high-risk innovative shots have more takers.

While Kohli’s knock had classic perfection stamped all over it, the spectators were served with some modern day pyrotechnics from opener KL Rahul, who dusted off a rusty patch with a stroke-filled half century to hand India the perfect start.

Kohli, rightfully, preferred to play the second fiddle in the 67-run second wicket partnership, to a marauding Rahul (50 off 32 balls), who justified the faith of the team management by getting his first half century of the tournament.

Put into bat in overcast conditions, Rahul warmed himself up with a six over deep square leg to arrest a sluggish start for the side, before breaking his single digit jinx in the World Cup with a six and four off consecutive deliveries to keep the scoreboard ticking despite losing his Rohit Sharma cheaply. Sharma could add just one run from the dropped chance on 1 by Hasan Mahmud, who immediately made amends by inducing the Indian captain to slice one to point.

Having dealt mostly in boundaries and sixes during his stay in the middle, the 30-year-old Karnataka batter was in no mood to let the opportunity slip as he forced young Shoriful Islam into submission with a 24-run over, launching the left-armer for two sixes after Kohli started off the over with a gorgeous checked-drive down the ground for four runs. In the next over, Rahul completed his half century before a mistimed whip off Shakib-Al-Hasan made him take the long walk back to the dug-out.

Among the other notable contributors, Suryakumar Yadav, the new No.1 ranked T20I batter, came up with a breezy 16-ball 30, before Ravichandran Ashwin’s 6-ball 13 helped India milk 27 off the final two overs to go past the 180-run mark.

In reply, Bangladesh got off to a flier with 67 for no loss on the board from 7 overs, thanks to opener Litton Das’ cracking 21-ball half century, giving the team a 17-run advantage when a heavy shower halted the proceedings. A scooped over-the-shoulder six off Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the fifth over was the highlight of Litton’s fiery knock before being forced to move indoors.

KL Rahul

Back after the break with a revised total of 151 off 16 overs, Litton could add just a run to his 59, before a direct hit from KL Rahul running in from deep midwicket ended his stay, giving India the much-needed breakthrough.

It seemed Bangladesh pressed a self-destruction button after the rain-break, losing six wickets for 40 runs, to find themselves tottering at 108/6 after being comfortably placed at 66 without loss before the interruption. Mohammed Shami started the onslaught with the wicket of Najmul Hossain Shanto (21), before Arshdeep Singh inflicted further damage by packing back Afif Hussain (3) and skipper Shakib-Al Hasan (13) in a span of five balls. The last recognized batters Yasir Ali (1), Mosaddek Hussain (6) fell in a span of four balls off Hardik Pandya’s over, thereby backfiring their ploy of dropping a batter to include an extra pacer for the crucial contest.

In the end, Bangladesh had themselves to blame for making a mess of the achievable target of 151, and eventually falling short by 5 runs.

Also Read | Kohli becomes leading run-getter in T20 World Cup history

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