PUNE: It was a classic case of a batter stealing a bowler’s glory, as it happens so often in the game of cricket and Virat Kohli even agreed to it and threw a light-hearted apology to his teammate after India hammered Bangladesh seven wickets to make it four out of four in ICC World Cup 2023. The Player of the Award had Ravindra Jadeja written all over it. It was he who applied the brakes on the Bangladesh innings after it got off to a flier thanks to openers Tanzid Hasan and Litton Das. It was Jadeja who got the important breakthrough of the dangerous Litton Das after he had already for Bangladesh stand-in skipper Najmul Hossein Shanto. If anything, Jadeja’s spin-bowling partner Kuldeep Yadav could have given him a tough fight for the top performer of the match award.
Kuldeep broke the threatening opening stand between Litton and Tanzid by trapping the latter with a flatter delivery and after that it was a classic choke by the Indian spinners. From being 90 for no loss in 14 overs, Bangladesh were reduced to 137 for four in 28 overs. Bangladesh lost four wickets for 47 runs in 14 overs. Their run rate came crashing down from 6 and a half to under 5. Jadeja struck twice in this period and Kuldeep once and more importantly, they did not let the Bangladesh batters get away.
Jadeja and Kuldeep did not let captain Rohit Sharma feel the absence of Hardik Pandya, who had gone off the field after bowling just 3 balls due to an ankle injury. After the end of 50 overs, Bangladesh could only manage 256 for 8. Jadeja returned with staggering figures of 2 for 38.
The choice for the Player of the Match award, however, changed as India’s chase progressed. Kohli took centre stage after another good start provided by Rohit Sharma (48) and Shubman Gill (53). When Kohli decided that he would settle for nothing less than a century, it was always going to be a clear choice. After a lot of drama, a few denied singles, sixes, fours, and a glaring umpiring error, Kohli got to his 48th ODI century with a six and also finished the match for India.
His unbeaten 103 off 97 balls was just about enough to pip Jadeja for the Player of the Match award. When he was informed at the post-match presentation about the same, he was gracious enough to acknowledge it.
Virat Kohli says sorry to Jadeja
“Sorry for stealing it (the player of the Match award) from Jaddu. I wanted to make a big contribution. I have made fifties in World Cups, wanted to finish it off this time,” Kohli said after India’s victory.
Bangladesh bowlers presented Kohli with a couple of free-hits right at the start of his innings and he couldn’t stop cracking a joke about it.
“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.”The master chaser admitted that it was a great strip to bat on.
“The pitch was good, allowed me to play my game – hit the gaps and find the boundaries whenever I could.”The team is gelling well, said the elder statesman of the team.
“There is great atmosphere in the dressing room. 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,” he added.