After the game, which India won with 51 balls to spare, Rahul suggested it was his idea that they not run singles so that Kohli could keep the strike and increase his chances of scoring a hundred.
“He [Kohli] was confused, he said it will not look too nice, not to take the single, it’s still a World Cup, and it’s still a big stage. ‘I don’t want to look like I am just trying to get the milestone’,” Rahul told Star Sports. “But I said, I mean it is not won but still I think we’ll win quite easily, so if you can get to the milestone why not, you must try. And he did that in the end. I wasn’t going to run the singles anyway.”
The pair turned down approximately five opportunities to run singles as Kohli neared his century, which had seemed unlikely at one stage. Chasing 257, India were 229 for 3 after 38 overs and needed only 28 to win. At this point, Kohli was on 73. He and Rahul took a single each off the first two balls of the 39th over. India now needed 26 to win and Kohli needed the same for a hundred.
“I wanted to make a big contribution,” Kohli said after the game, having finished unbeaten on 103 off 97 balls. “I have had a few fifties in World Cups, and I have never really converted them so I just wanted to finish the game off this time around. Yeah, hang on till the end which is what I have done over the years for the team.”
Kohli couldn’t have hoped for a much better start to his innings when he received two free-hits from Mahmud, which he clobbered for a four and a six to get going.
“I was telling Shubman [Gill] that even if you dream about a situation like that you just go back to sleep, you won’t think it is real,” Kohli said. “It was a dream start for me, first four balls two free-hits, a six and four, just calms you down and just gets you into the innings. The pitch was pretty good and it allowed me to play my game…just time the ball, hit the gaps, run hard and get the boundaries wherever needed.”
Of India’s 2011 World Cup winning squad, Kohli and R Ashwin are the only two members in the present team, and he said the atmosphere was great within the team.
“There is a great atmosphere in the change room,” Kohli said. “We are loving each other’s company, the spirit is for everyone to see off the field, that’s why it is translating like that on the field. We understand it is a long tournament and you need to create some momentum in the change room for the guys to come out and play like this. It’s a special feeling playing at home, playing in front of all these people so we just want to make the most of it.”
With four wins in four games, India are level on eight points with table-toppers New Zealand, who have a better net run rate. Their next match is against each other on Sunday in Dharamsala.
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