Cricket Asia Cup: Virat Kohli Saviour Again as India Stun Pakistan in Thriller

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Cricket Asia Cup: Virat Kohli Saviour Again as India Stun Pakistan in Thriller
Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Virat Kohli is the greatest young cricketer in the world. The 23-year-old produced a phenomenal 183, the best innings of his short career, to guide India to the country's biggest-ever successful ODI run chase.

India looked out of it when Pakistan raced to 329/6 in the fifth match of the Asia Cup in Mirpur, and India gave up a wicket before scoring a single run in response. In the end, though, it was easy, and India wrapped up a six-wicket victory with 13 balls remaining.

And it was all down to Virat Kohli, who completely took over the match.

He found the boundary 23 times, needed just 148 balls and was never seriously threatened. It's what we've come to expect from Kohli, who has single-handedly allayed fears about the future of Indian cricket.

In his last 22 ODIs, Kohli has hit 11 half-centuries and six centuries. He has broken the 100 mark in three of his last four matches, two of which have come with India facing elimination from a tournament.

That was the case against Pakistan. After a shock defeat to Bangladesh two days ago, India had to win to have a chance of making the final.

When Sachin Tendulkar dropped a half-chance and subsequently had to leave the field with an injured finger, things looked bleak for India. Pakistan's openers, Nasir Jamshed and Mohammad Hafeez, were cruising and the Indian attack was passive and lacklustre.

Both Jamshed (112 off 104) and Hafeez (105 off 113) ended up with centuries and Pakistan had scored 224 runs before they finally lost a wicket. Chasing 329, India's innings began with Gautam Gambhir being caught lbw on the second ball and it looked like Pakistan were going to demolish their rivals.

Scott Barbour/Getty Images

A partnership of 133 between Kohli and Tendulkar, recovered from his finger injury, steadied the ship as Pakistan's usually sound bowling started to waver.

They surrendered 17 runs in the 19th over, five of which were extras. However, that was followed by a brilliant over from Saeed Ajmal, in which he took the wicket of Tendulkar (52 off 48) and twice came very close to dismissing his replacement, Rohit Sharma, for a duck.

Sharma survived the stumping and lbw calls, though, and settled down quickly. When a weak pull shot ended his knock on 68, he and Virat had put together a stand of 172 for the third wicket.

When Kohli was finally dismissed, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni needed just 12 runs to ensure victory.

Pakistan had already made it through to the final; India have still not yet. Bangladesh will advance with a victory over Sri Lanka; a defeat will see India and Pakistan meet for a rematch in the final.

Adam MacDonald has been a featured columnist for the Boston Red Sox since October 2010. He also writes about cricket a fair bit. He likes video games and sandwiches. You can follow him on Twitter, or tell him how awesome/terrible this article was, by clicking here.

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