On this day in 2012: Virat Kohli’s magical 133 in Hobart blows away Sri Lanka

For every great player, there are some innings that are highlighted as their coming-of-age knocks. This innings in Hobart was one such for Virat Kohli. This innings began Kohli’s incredible rise in international cricket and took him to the heights of greatness.

The equation

It was the last league match for India in the Commonwealth Bank Tri-Series 2011-12. They were up against a friendly foe Sri Lanka, but they had to win the match with a bonus point to ensure they stay in the race for the finals. To achieve a bonus point, they had to chase down the target set by Sri Lanka in 40 overs. Tillakaratne Dilshan (160 not out) and Kumar Sangakkara (105) took the Lankan team’s total to 320 for 4. Now to chase down 321 in 50 overs is difficult to begin with, but India had to score these runs in 40 overs.

The Indian openers Virender Sehwag and Tendulkar got the team to a good start, but once they were dismissed in the 10th over, India’s score was standing at 86 for 2. This is exactly when India needed a partnership to stabilize the innings and Gautam Gambhir partnered with Kohli to start the rebuilding process. The way they were moving the innings, it seemed clearly India was planning to finish this total in 40 overs.

Kohli unleashes himself

When Gambhir got out for a well-made 63, Virat cut loose on the Sri Lankan bowlers. He smashed them to the sides of the boundary. After reaching his fifty from 44 balls, it took only 32 balls for him to reach his hundred. He ended with 133 not out from just 86 balls. A little bit of Mathematics will tell how beautifully paced his innings and shifted gears with each milestone. His last 33 runs came off just 10 balls. He took Lasith Malinga on and sent his otherwise lethal yorkers to boundaries on repeated occasions, almost toying with his bowling.

His knock helped India chase down the target in 36.4 overs, making it the fastest chase of any score above 300, at the time. With his knock, Kohli showed his class and his craft as a batsman. There were complaints about his one-dimensional batting in ODI cricket until then, but with his knock, he showed that his batting has a second or even a third gear to it. He was also made the vice-captain of the team for the next ODI series, after this knock.

Even after this win, India failed to qualify for the finals because Australia went down to Sri Lanka, allowing the Lankan side to qualify. A few weeks later, Kohli scored another century against Sri Lanka and followed it up with a massive 183 against Pakistan, all in the Asia Cup.