Amid an outrageous claim by veteran Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez, who labelled Virat Kohli’s knock in his historic 49th century at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata last Sunday as “selfish”, India batting great Gautam Gambhir made a telling remark on the former India captain’s approach in his unbeaten 101, reckoning that it could have hurt India.
The Men in Blue have been on a rampaging run in World Cup 2023, winning eight matches in a row, including the one deemed as their toughest test, against South Africa. The Proteas were hammered by 243 runs in Kolkata where Kohli, on his 35th birthday, matched Sachin Tendulkar’s ODI record for most centuries.
Gambhir, in conversation with Sportskeeda, felt that Kohli did slow down towards the end of his innings, which could have hurt India had it been a good pitch. Accepting that it must have been owing to Kohli approaching the three-figure mark, the former India batter rather credited Shreyas Iyer, who scored 77, for taking the pressure off the India No. 3 in their 189-run stand.
“It was important for Kohli to bat deep and I feel it was at the end, just the last 5-6 overs where he slowed down a bit, maybe because he was nearing a century. But I believe there were already enough runs on the board. It could have hurt India if they were batting on a good pitch,” he said.
“You got to give credit to Shreyas Iyer for the way he kept taking chances and took the pressure off Virat Kohli. Both batted really well in the middle as the best time to bat was with the new ball. They expertly negotiated Keshav Maharaj and giving him just one wicket when Jadeja picked five was brilliant.”
Kohli is now the second-highest run-getter for India in this tournament with 543 runs in eight innings which includes two centuries. This is statistically Kohli’s best ever batting show at a World Cup edition, going past his 2019 numbers.
India will play their next game on Sunday against Netherlands in Bengaluru.