For the fifth consecutive match Virat Kohli scored a half-century or more. On two occasions he converted them into triple-figure scores, which subsequently helped him take down Sachin Tendulkar’s mighty record for most ODI tons ever. On Sunday, in the 2023 World Cup final against Australia in Ahmedabad, Kohli looked set for fourth century in this tournament as India aimed to rebuild after the successive dismissals of Rohit Sharma and Shreyas Iyer. But Australia captain Pat Cummins silenced the Ahmedabad crowd by disrupting Kohli’s plan with the humongous wicket.
After India lost Rohit and Iyer in a space of just four balls, Kohli and KL Rahul stitched a valiant 67-run stand as the pair stood tall against the disciplined Aussie attack, who conceded only a single boundary in that 18.1 overs of partnership.
En route, Kohli managed to become the first batter to have two separate streaks of five consecutive fifty-plus knocks in a World Cup edition, which breathed life into an otherwise tensed Ahmedabad crowd. But just when India were looking a tad bit confident, Cummins left Kohli in utter disbelief. He sent down a short delivery to which Kohli rose on his toes to defend it, but the ball took an inside edge and rattled against the stumps. The former India captain stood there for a while, staring at the track shell-shocked before he made his way back to the pavilion nodding his head in disappointment. The Ahmedabad crowd was meanwhile in funereal silence at the sight while Kohli’s wife Anushka Sharma, who was sitting in the stands, looked distraught.
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With the dismissal, Kohli ended his dream World Cup campaign as a batter, having amassed 765 runs in 12 matches, the most-ever by a cricketer in a single edition. The tally has been laced with six fifties and three tons.
Earlier in the day, Australia opted to bowl first keeping the dew factor in mind at the Narendra Modi Stadium. And while the decision left a few veteran Aussie cricketers shocked, the fast bowlers proved it to be a right call. Mitchell Starc struck early to dismiss Shubman Gill amid Rohit’s rampage against Josh Hazelwood before Glenn Maxwell got the better of the India captain, courtesy of Travis Head’s brilliant catch, reminiscent of Kapil Dev’s 1983 dismissal of Vivian Richards. Cummins later dismissed Iyer while Hazlewood got rid of Ravindra Jadeja before the start of the slog overs to send India 5 down in the final.
First appeared on www.hindustantimes.com