Colombo: Virat Kohli returned to his record-breaking ways with his 47th ODI ton while KL Rahul dispelled all doubts over his fitness with a scintillating hundred and powered India to a mammoth 356 for 2 against a hapless Pakistan in an Asia Cup Super Four match here on Monday.
Kohli also became the fastest to reach 13,000 runs in the format as he closed down on Sachin Tendulkar’s world record 49 ODI centuries.
The contemporary legend’s love affair with R Premadasa Stadium continued as his unbeaten 122 off 94 balls was his fourth hundred on trot at this very venue.
Kohli’s hundred did not overshadow Rahul, who raced to his sixth ODI hundred — a chiselled 106-ball-111 not out in a superb 233-run stand for the unconquered third wicket.
The highly-rated Pakistan bowling attack lay in tatters and was hamstrung on the day due to absence of their fastest man Haris Rauf, who didn’t turn up due to an injury.
Shaheen Shah Afridi, considered to be India’s biggest threat was taken to the cleaners by India’s top four as he leaked 79 runs in his 10 overs.
Overall, the Pakistani bowlers struggled to contain the opposition batters, who hit 37 boundaries and nine sixes in all.
India started the innings, which was suspended on Sunday because of rain, at 147 for two in 24.1 overs, as Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill had given them early momentum with fifties.
But there was no ennui surrounding the Indian batting, and they maintained a run rate close to 7.
Rahul’s innings might have been particularly heartening for the team management.
He might have batted well in the match simulation process at the NCA, but here the 31-year-old proved his readiness for bigger battles with an ebullient innings against a top opposition.
At the other end, Kohli was a little slow to get off the blocks, sussing up the conditions and also allowing space to Rahul to slot himself into his gear.
But once settled, Kohli bruised the Pakistan attack as only he can.
As he was the previous day, pacer Naseem Shah (0/53 in 9.2 overs) was the most threatening of Pakistan bowlers as others largely struggled to hit the right button.
They were also hit hard by the absence of Rauf, who did not enter the field after suffering an oblique muscle pull while bowling yesterday.
It meant that Pakistan had to use part-time off-spinner Iftikhar Ahmed longer than they would have liked.
However, Kohli and Rahul were not complaining. There were sparkling shots all around as one would expect from two of the finest shot-makers around.
Kohli conjured his drives, on-the-up shots and pulls out of the draw, while Rahul’s swat-flick six off leg-spinner Shadab Khan (1/71 in 10 overs) was worth freezing inside a frame among an array of on-side shots.
Rahul completed his hundred in as many balls, and Kohli went past the mark in 84 balls as Pakistan wilted under tremendous pressure.