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IPL Desk in Mumbai 19 March 2012 - 11:01am IST

Sensational Kohli stars in record chase

RCB batsman posts highest ever Asia Cup score as India win

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Virat Kohli hit a career best 183 as India beat Pakistan by six wickets in their final league outing of the 2012 Asia Cup. After Pakistan put up a mammoth score of 329, Kohli’s dazzling innings helped India successfully it down, thus keeping their chances of qualifying for the Asia Cup final alive.

The day/night contest began with Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq winning the toss and opting to bat first. Pakistan made one change to their side with wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed being replaced by left-arm pacer Wahab Riaz while India brought in Kolkata Knight Riders’ Yusuf Pathan for Chennai Super Kings’ Ravindra Jadeja.

After that it was all Pakistan as openers Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed punished the Indian attack for close to 36 overs of the innings. The pair gave Pakistan the ideal platform for a big score; both batsmen reached their respective centuries in a 224-run stand that lasted 35.5 overs. Hafeez was the first to reach the three-figure mark in the 33rd over of the Pakistan innings while Jamshed (112) brought up his first ODI century in the 35th over off just 98 deliveries.

MS Dhoni tried as many as eight bowlers to break that opening stand before CSK’s R Ashwin finally had Jamshed caught by Irfan Pathan at short third man in the 36th over. Three deliveries later, Ashoke Dinda, who was recently traded to the Pune Warriors India, bowled Hafeez (105) off a slower one.

Pakistan promoted Shahid Afridi up to No. 5 after Umar Akmal (28) was removed by Praveen Kumar with the score at 273 in the 43rd over. However, with Afridi (9) failing to make much of an impact, Younis Khan gave the Pakistan innings the desired push at the end to take them to 329 with a 34-ball 52.

India started disastrously as Hafeez trapped Delhi Daredevils’ Gautam Gambhir (0) lbw with just the second delivery of the innings. Mumbai Indians’ Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli then set about staging a revival; their 133-run stand turned the game slightly in India’s favour. Both batsmen were severe on anything remotely loose offered by the bowlers; Tendulkar’s upper-cut off Aizaz Cheema for six in the fifth over was the highlight of their handy partnership.

Tendulkar, though, couldn’t go on to bring up what would have been his 50th ODI century. The Little Master was caught at slip off Saeed Ajmal in the 20th over after he had made 52.

But that wicket didn’t offer much respite to Pakistan as MI’s Rohit Sharma simply picked up from where Tendulkar left off. The Virat-Rohit pair continued to hit boundaries at will and helped India passed the 200-run mark in the 33rd over, just a short while after Kohli had brought up 11th ODI century.

Then with India needing 123 off the last 16 overs, both batsmen stepped up the assault with Sharma pulling Pakistan pacer Aizaz Cheema for six over deep square in what was, arguably, the shot of the match. Where India took 94 and 102 deliveries to raise the 100 and 200-run mark respectively, the pair took just 74 deliveries to take India to 300.

However, both batsmen were dismissed by the Pakistan bowlers before they could take India to victory. Sharma fell for 68 when he top-edged an Umar Gul delivery straight into the hands of Shahid Afridi. Kohli, too, was dismissed by Gul but not before he had brought up the highest ever score in the Asia Cup competition – 183 (off 148 balls).

The CSK pair of Suresh Raina (12*) and MS Dhoni (4*) then took India home with 13 balls left in the game.

Today’s result means that while Pakistan have qualified for the final, India will still have to await the result of the final league outing between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka on March 20. India will want Bangladesh to lose that game in order to earn the right to play Pakistan in the final on March 22.

Brief scores: India 330/4 in 50.0 overs (Virat Kohli 183, Rohit Sharma 68, Sachin Tendulkar 52, Umar Gul 2/65) beat Pakistan 329/6 in 50.0 overs (Mohammad Hafeez 105, Nasir Jasmshed 112, Younis Khan 52) by six wickets

Man-of-the-match: Virat Kohli for his blazing 148-ball 183 (22x4, 1x6) that helped India chase down Pakistan’s mammoth score of 329


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