It is not often that Virat Kohli is overshadowed. Especially in an One-Day International. Especially in a chase. And especially after he scores a magnificent 122 in that same innings.
Yet, the unheralded Kedar Jadhav was the player who just did that as India won the first ODI against England at Pune by three wickets on Sunday.
India were tottering. They were 63/4 with MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh back in the hut chasing 351. Yes, Kohli was still there. But it was a tall order.
And while everyone laid their hopes on Kohli, it was the diminutive 31-year Jadhav who quietly played one of the finest ODI innings seen in Indian cricket.
Jadhav simply counter-attacked and in the process, even went past Kohli. His nuggety strokeplay gave him the quick singles but also the quick boundaries. His half-century came off only 29 deliveries. Kohli at the other end even played second fiddle for a while. The fifty partnership came in just 36 balls, the hundred-run stand in just 79 balls. The two put on a 200-run partnership in 8.16 runs per over.
The partnership ended when Kohli finally mishit one and was out for a magnificent 122. In all respect, it was a typical Kohli innings with the master starting the new year in the same vein: incredible stroke-play, calculated risks and aggressive running, punctuated by some mindblowing shots, including a straight uppish drive for six over mid-wicket. Yes, it was that difficult to describe.
Despite losing Kohli, Jadhav carried on, fighting cramps to take his team even closer before finally hitting one pull to many and getting caught out. But his 120 had taken him just 76 balls and had been scored at a strike rate of 157. In contrast, Kohli’s 122 had come off 105 balls and at a strike of 116.
England’s bowling had been poor after their initial burst of three wickets and even after getting an opening with Kohli’s and Jadhav’s wickets, they still failed to put any more pressure. It was left to Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya who knocked off the runs required to take India ultimately quite comfortably after they looked in real trouble at 63/4 at one stage.
India 356/7 in 48.1 overs (Virat Kohli 122, Kedar Jadhav 120; Jake Ball 3/67, David Willey 2/47) beat England 350/7 in 50 overs (Joe Root 78, Jason Roy 73; Hardik Pandya 2/46, Jasprit Bumrah 2/80) by 3 wickets