KL Rahul marked his return to international cricket with a century while Virat Kohli added to his strong record against rivals Pakistan with a hundred of his own, made all the sweeter by becoming the fastest batsman to reach 13,000 ODI runs, as India ended on 356 for 2 in their rain-affected Asia Cup Super 4 at the R. Premadasa Stadium.
With the match pushed into the reserve day, India resumed on 147 for 2 after 24.1, Rahul and Kohli continuing from where they left on Sunday, when they had slowly built a partnership of 26 off 38 before play was called off due to rain.
It was a partnership of a completely different tempo today, with the pair piling on runs more freely, rarely troubled by the Pakistani bowlers, with their third-wicket stand remaining unbroken on 233 off 194 balls, the highest for any wicket for India in the Asia Cup.
They more than doubled the score that had accumulated after 30 overs, when India were on 175 for 2, adding 181 runs off the final 20 overs – they scored 105 in just the final 10 overs.
Kohli faced just 88 of those balls but plundered 122 of the runs, hitting nine boundaries and three sixes – more than half of his runs coming from running between the wickets.
The sparse crowd was treated to some of the magic that made Kohli one of the greatest batsmen ever, including a six driven over the long off boundary against the pace of Naseem Shah on the way to completing his third century against Pakistan in 15 matches.
KL Rahul had not played cricket since May this year, when he was injured during the Indian Premier League, but on his return against his country’s biggest rivals, he showed no signs of ring rust, in an innings that was littered with classy hits to and over the boundary.
Rahul meanwhile hit 12 boundaries and two sixes in his century, which came off exactly 100 balls, raising his bat to the skies when he reached the mark.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam started the day with the news that he would not be able to turn to the services of fast bowler Haris
Rauf, who picked up an injury on Sunday, and the Indian batsmen capitalized on the sixth option bowler Iftikhar Ahmed, whose 5.4 overs went for 52 runs.
It didn’t help that Shah, who beat both batsmen in his first over of the day in a rare moment where Pakistan’s bowlers troubled either Kohli or Rahul, walked off the field two balls into his final over.