Virat Kohli claimed centre stage with a magnificent century as India maintained their 100 per cent record at the 2023 World Cup by cruising to a seven-wicket victory over Bangladesh in Pune.
Bangladesh’s 256 for eight from their 50 overs never looked like being enough and so it proved as openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill both made sizeable contributions before Kohli finished the job.
Although the result was never in doubt there was drama at the end as KL Rahul farmed the strike to try to get Kohli to three figures.
With India needing two to win and Kohli requiring three for his ton, the former Test captain had to hit a boundary and duly obliged by smashing a full toss from Nasum Ahmed over deep mid-wicket for six to send the crowd in Pune into raptures.
His 103 not out – his 48th one-day international century – came from just 97 balls.
Kohli said: “I wanted to make a big contribution. I’ve made fifties in World Cups, but wanted to finish it off this time.
“The pitch was good and allowed me to play my game, hit the gaps and find the boundaries whenever I could.
“There is a great atmosphere in the dressing room and the spirit is there for everyone to see. You need to create some momentum in the changing room to come out and play like this.”
As brilliant as Kohli was, he was helped at the start of his innings by two free hits in his first three deliveries and he cashed in with a four and a six.
He added: “I was telling Shubman that even if you dream about this situation, you go back to sleep. It was a dream start. It just calms you down.”
— BCCI (@BCCI) October 19, 2023
India now have four wins from four and their key players seemingly hitting top form.
Tournament top-scorer Rohit again looked in wonderful touch, getting the run chase off to an up-tempo start with a series of stunning shots, driving crisply off the front foot and pulling powerfully off the back.
Gill also looked in decent nick as the pair rattled their way to 88 inside 13 overs before Rohit played one pull too many and holed out to Towhid Hridoy on the deep square leg boundary off the bowling of Hasan Mahmud having made 48 off 40 deliveries.
Gill perished for 53 and Shreyas Iyer for 19 but Rahul (34 not out) did his job to get both India and Kohli over the line.
Earlier, Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja spearheaded an impressive India bowling display to prevent Bangladesh setting a target that would trouble their hosts.
Bumrah led from the front with a typically skilled display of fast bowling, claiming two for 41 – his figures spoiled slightly by being hit for six by Shoriful Islam off the final delivery of the innings – while Jadeja chipped in with an equally useful two for 38.
The pair played a key role in dragging India back into contention after Bangladesh’s openers had made a strong start with Tanzid Hasan and Litton Das putting on 93 for the first wicket.
Tanzid (51) perished shortly after completing his half-century with Litton (66) following him 13 overs later following a mini-collapse that saw captain Najmul Hossain Shanto – standing in for the injured Shakib Al-Hasan – and Mehidy Hasan Miraz depart cheaply.
Mushfiqur Rahim (38) was dismissed by a stunning catch by Jadeja at backward point but he had helped stabilise the innings before Mahmudullah added some lusty blows late on with a 36-ball 46.