Virat Kohli delivered a masterful century that proved pivotal in India's dominant total of 356 runs against Pakistan in Colombo on Monday. His remarkable partnership with KL Rahul (111 not out) paved the way for India to secure a resounding 228-run victory.
In addition to his unbeaten 122 runs, the former Indian captain shattered numerous records. He achieved the distinction of being the fastest cricketer to reach the remarkable milestone of 13,000 runs in One Day Internationals (ODIs) and drew closer to Sachin Tendulkar's legendary record of 49 ODI centuries. Furthermore, Kohli equalled Hashim Amla's record for the most consecutive ODI centuries at a single venue, achieving four in a row.
When it came to defending the total, Kuldeep Yadav took center stage with his left-arm spin, securing his second five-wicket haul in ODIs. His outstanding performance effectively limited Pakistan to just 128 runs, sealing India's triumph over their long-standing rivals.
The decision to award Virat Kohli the Player of the Match title, despite Kuldeep Yadav's impressive five-wicket haul, sparked a debate, particularly with former Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir.
The former left-handed batter firmly advocated for Kuldeep Yadav as the standout performer. In a match marked by challenging pitch and weather conditions, Gambhir emphasized that Yadav's extraordinary achievement of taking five wickets in just eight overs against Pakistan's traditionally strong batting lineup was a game-changing moment.
"Can't look beyond Kuldeep Yadav," declared Gautam Gambhir, emphasising the spinner's crucial role in India's victory.
“For me, it’s Kuldeep Yadav. Can’t look beyond him. I know Virat got a hundred KL (Rahul) got a hundred. Rohit (Sharma), Shubman Gill got fifties but on a wicket like this where it was seaming swinging, if someone get five wickets in 8 overs, especially against Pakistan batters, who play spin really well, is a game-changing moment,” Gambhir was quoted as saying on Star Sports India in the post-match show.
“I can understand if it was Australia, South Africa or New Zealand because they don’t play spin that well. This just shows the quality of the bowler. He beat batters in the air and he beat batters off the wicket as well. Going into the World Cup, that is great for Indian cricket because now you have two attacking pacers upfront and Kuldeep. Three bowlers who can take wickets at any stage of the game,” Gambhir added.