On February 28 2012 in Hobart, Virat Kohli played an One Day International innings that firmly established him as a great in the making.
India had not had the best of tours Down Under. They had lost the Test series 0-4, getting thoroughly hammered in each of the four matches – losing the first Test by 122 runs, the second by an innings and 68 runs, the third by an innings and 37 runs, and the fourth by 298 runs.
The T20Is were shared. But as the Commonwealth Bank tri-series began, India were desperately looking for a pick-me-up. A few wins early in the tournament had them feeling good about their game but after three losses on the trot in the middle of the tournament, it looked like they might have run out of steam again.
Most unbeaten ODI 100s in winning run-chases
|Player||No of 100s||Highest|
|V Kohli (INDIA)||12||154*|
|RG Sharma (INDIA)||8||152*|
|SR Tendulkar (INDIA)||8||127*|
|SP Fleming (NZ)||6||134*|
|Saeed Anwar (PAK)||6||113*|
|MJ Guptill (NZ)||5||180*|
|ST Jayasuriya (SL)||5||151*|
|CH Gayle (WI)||5||133*|
|SR Watson (AUS)||4||185*|
|SC Ganguly (INDIA)||5||135*|
Then, in the 11th match of the series in Hobart, India needed to win. But needed to win big. They had to chase down whatever the score was inside 40 overs to remain alive in the tournament.
Sri Lanka walked out to bat and put on a mammoth 320/4 in their 50 overs. Tillakaratne Dilshan scored a brilliant 160 and Kumar Sangakkara chipped in with 105 off 87 balls as the Sri Lankan batsmen made merry on a good batting track.
The moment a team goes past 300 in an ODI, especially a few years back, the scoreboard pressure becomes an issue. But the Indian team was determined to come out fighting.
Virender Sehwag came out and blazed a 16-ball 30 to get the innings off to a rollicking start. Sachin Tendulkar kept the run-rate up with a 39 off 30 balls and by the time he was dismissed, India had put 86/2 after 9.2 overs.
A promising start but with such a big chase ahead of them, India needed someone to produce something special. Gautam Gambhir was looking good but it was Virat Kohli who truly upped the ante.
He started off sedately. For the first five overs of his stay at the wicket, no boundaries were hit as Sri Lanka gained a semblance of control. But Kohli was only getting his eye in. And then it began in right earnest.
The first Kohli four came off Perera – a well-timed shot through the covers – and it took him to 21 off 20 balls. He gradually found a nice rhythm, getting to his fifty in 44 balls. Quick but not quick enough. Not yet.
The 100 was brought up in 76 balls – he needed just 32 balls to go from 50 to 100. By now, he was making a mockery of the field settings.
Then, with India needing just 42, Kohli produced the piece de resistance by smashing Lasith Malinga for 24 runs in one over (2-6-4-4-4-4). He finished the match off with a couple more boundaries in the pacer’s next over to finish with 133 off just 86 balls with 16 fours and 2 sixes.
India won by 7 wickets with 80 balls remaining. It is still the quickest chase of a 300-plus total in ODI history (in terms of overs remaining). It was not enough for MS Dhoni’s side to reach the final of the tri-series as Sri Lanka beat Australia in the next match but it marked the arrival of Kohli, the chasemaster.
Quickest 300-plus in ODI successful run-chases
|Team||Margin||Balls remaining in chase||Opposition||Ground||Start Date|
|India||7 wickets||80||v Sri Lanka||Hobart||28 Feb 2012|
|Sri Lanka||8 wickets||75||v England||Leeds||1 Jul 2006|
|Bangladesh||7 wickets||51||v West Indies||Taunton||17 Jun 2019|
|India||8 wickets||47||v West Indies||Guwahati||21 Oct 2018|
|India||6 wickets||47||v Pakistan||Karachi||26 Jun 2008|
The innings also set the template for Kohli in ODIs. Start off with singles, add in a few boundaries to the mix and then as the end approaches, go simply nuts.
“When I was standing in my stance, I kept telling myself, ‘Just believe in yourself, keep believing’,” said Kohli after the game. “Just watch the ball and react. Don’t think you have to bit a boundary or a six. Just follow the ball and react. And my natural instinct is to play positively. I didn’t overpump myself and I think that was the key.”
You can watch highlights from the incredible knock below as well as the match highlights and Kohli’s fascinating interview below: