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Only Kohli could’ve done that to us: Pakistan star Shadab reopens old wounds | Cricket

Virat Kohli loves scoring against Pakistan. With 536 runs from 13 innings, Kohli’s average reads a fine 48.23. In T20Is, it goes a notch higher with 488 runs from 10 innings at a phenomenal average of 81.33. Some of Kohli’s finest innings of his career have come against Pakistan: a career-best 183 not out at the 2012 Asia Cup and the most epic of them all – the unbeaten 82 at last year’s T20 World Cup. Kohli’s career can be defined by many great knocks, but none will outperform what he achieved at the MCG helping India snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Chasing 160 to win, India were all over the place at 31/4 when Kohli decided to play the innings of his life.

Virat Kohli played the innings of his life against Pakistan at last year's World Cup.(Getty)
Virat Kohli played the innings of his life against Pakistan at last year’s World Cup.(Getty)

As India and Pakistan come face-to-face for the first time since that unforgettable Melbourne game at the Asia Cup 2023 on Saturday, Shadab Khan reopened the old wounds from that T20I. India needed 28 to win off eight when Kohli’s consecutive sixes of Haris Rauf threw the game open, and following a late-over drama, India won a last-ball thriller. For years, Kohli felt that his innings of 82 not out against Australia in the quarterfinal of the 2016 World T20 was the best he’s played, but that night, it had found a new contender. Such innings are as rare as an Ajit Agarkar century at Lord’s, but Shadab, while recalling the game from last October, feels Kohli is capable of producing such knocks at will.

“He is a world class player, definitely. You have to plan a lot to face him. Anyway, in international cricket, there are a lot of mind games, because you definitely have the skill to reach that level. But how you read each other’s minds, the bowler and the batter, how they read each other’s minds, and it also depends on what the situation is,” Shadab said on the Star Sports show ‘Follow the Blues’.

“The kind of batsman that Virat Kohli is, the way he has performed against us, even in the last match at the World Cup, I don’t think that if any other batsman in the world was in that situation, could have done that to our bowling line-up. And the beauty of it is that he can do this at any stage and at any time.”

Shaheen Afridi’s plan for India’s batters

Sri Lanka’s Pallekele International Stadium in Kandy will turn into a spectacle when it hosts the second Group A match of the Asia Cup, even more so as Kohli returns to the grand stage. Pakistan would be aware of the Kohli threat – he has scored four half-centuries in the last five games against them – and the plan would be for their pace attack comprising Naseem ShahRauf and Shaheen Afridi to dismiss the former India captain as early as possible. For years, this high-octane contest has been billed as India’s batters against Pakistan bowlers, and riding on this trivia, Shaheen, who is making a career out of picking wickets in the first over, reckons breaking through with the new ball will be key.

“In my opinion, my game plan is simple, every opener knows my game plan. The goal is to, as always, get the openers out to put pressure on the batting team. The middle order when they come in are not used to playing against the new ball as much as an opener. So there is a lot of pressure on the middle order to face the new ball,” he said on the same show.

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