Kohli ends 1021-day ton drought for India

·3-min read

Virat Kohli has hit his first international hundred in nearly three years as India bowed out of the Asia Cup with a massive 101-run win over Afghanistan.

Kohli, who made his last international century in November 2019 during a Test against Bangladesh, hit a blistering unbeaten 122 off just 61 balls on Thursday to anchor India to 2-212.

For the 33-year-old great, it ended a remarkable 1021-day drought without a ton for India.

Fast bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled one of best spells in Twenty20 cricket by grabbing 5-4 with his brilliant swing bowling before Afghanistan reached 8-111 and gave India their second-biggest win ever in a T20 international.

"Today, I think was just a build-up of the last few games," Kohli said.

"I actually batted out of my skin to be honest, I surprised myself!"

Afghanistan, who won group games against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, faltered in the Super 4 stage, losing all three of their games.

India also couldn't make it to the final after losing to Sunday's finalists, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Ibrahim Zadran top-scored with a gritty unbeaten 64 but the rest of the Afghanistan batting line-up crumbled against Kumar's superb bowling with the new ball.

Kohli grabbed an opportunity to open with stand-in captain KL Rahul after regular skipper Rohit Sharma was rested from India's last game in the tournament.

Tuesday night's one-wicket loss to Pakistan seemed to be still on the minds of Afghanistan's players as Ibrahim dropped Kohli on the boundary edge before he went on to score his half-century off 32 balls.

"Mentally we weren't prepared," conceded Afghanistan skipper Mohammad Nabi, who won the toss and elected to field first.

"We tried our best, but the way KL Rahul and Virat started, it was tough and we dropped some catches as well."

Rahul and Kohli provided India a rollicking start of 119 off 76 balls before Rahul holed out at long-on after making 62 off 41.

But Kohli smacked both Afghanistan pace bowlers Fareed Ahmad (2-57) and Fazalhaq Farooqi (0-51) in the death overs in a stunning display of power-hitting that included some stunning flicks off his pads.

Kohli raised his maiden T20 century in the penultimate over by hitting left-arm fast bowler Ahmed for a boundary and then raised his both arms with a broad smile by smashing a flat six over midwicket.

Kohli, who hit 12 fours and six sixes all told, provided an ideal finish with two sixes and a four against Farooqi. Teammates applauded as he walked to the dressing room.

Kohli dedicated his century to his wife Anushka Sharma, a Bollywood actress.

"This hundred is for her and for our little daughter Vamika as well," he said.

"Six weeks off (and) I was refreshed. I realised how tired I was. Competitiveness doesn't allow it, but this break allowed me to enjoy the game again."