Virat Kohli has watched Rohit Sharma score quite a few ‘Daddy Hundreds’ but the Indian captain rated his deputy’s unbeaten 122 against South Africa in their World Cup opener as his best innings in one day cricket. Rohit, who has an unprecedented three double hundreds in 50-over format, hit his 23rd ton on a bouncy Ageas Bowl track under overcast conditions.
“I think in my opinion this is by far his best ODI innings because of the kind of pressure the first game brings from a World Cup point of view,” Kohli said at the post-match press conference.
“And then I know, as a batsman, when you go in and a few balls bounce like that, it’s not easy to gather yourself again and play in a calm manner.”
According to Kohli, the best part about Rohit’s innings was his composure as he was ready to curb his natural attacking instinct and put his head down and be patient. “A lot of times batsmen tend to hit their way out of the situation. But he was very composed. He’s played so many games, we expect a lot of maturity and a lot of responsibility from someone like him,” he said.
“In my opinion, of all the brilliant innings I have seen him play, I think this, for me, was the top of the pile because of the way he compiled his innings and at no stage did we feel like, or he felt like he is going to throw it away,” the skipper said.
Rohit hit 13 boundaries and two sixes in his 144-ball innings to help India overhaul the victory target of 228 in 47.3 overs for a six-wicket win.
Kohli said the best part about Rohit’s innings was the manner in which he set the pace, dropping anchor while others had the freedom to attack.
“I think controlling the game so beautifully from one end and allowing the others to display themselves and string in small little partnerships, looking at the fact that they were only chasing 228...,” he said.
“Rohit played the perfect innings for that kind of a situation on that kind of a wicket against a bowling attack that was threatening to pick up wickets at any stage. So, yeah, in my opinion, by far his best knock,” the skipper had no doubt.
Yuzvendra Chahal’s four wickets and Kuldeep Yadav’s tight spell set it up nicely for the Indian team as South Africa were restricted to 227 for nine in 50 overs. Once again after their away tour in 2018 when they had picked up an aggregate of 33 wickets between them, ‘Kul-Cha’ were again at the forefront picking up five wickets for 96 runs in their combined 20 overs.
“A massive factor. We spoke about the fact the last time we played them, they were not that confident against our spinners. What we experienced was they were not able to rotate strike so well,” Kohli said.
“They were trying to hit their way out of a situation which, for a captain, any day I would love batsmen trying to hit boundaries to get out of trouble rather than rotating strike because the risk factor is high.”
The skipper termed the performance of his team as a “professional” one as they had to also battle the conditions.
“I think it was a professional effort from us. It was a low-scoring game, not the highest of totals you will see in one-day cricket nowadays.
“That was because of the way the pitch was throughout the course of the game and I think, from that point of view, we were very professional with the new ball as well as in the middle overs,” he said.
A good start is always essential for any team and Kohli said this win over South Africa will help in creating positive vibes in the team. “Starting off well is always an important thing and we got together nicely as a team in the first half on the field. It is very important to create that energy and we were able to do that in the first ten and from there, we really built the game nicely and finished it off in a professional manner,” he said.