None of the many moments that have stuck in mind from India’s comfortable win over Bangladesh in the opening game of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 are more significant that the sight of Virat Kohli telling Yusuf Pathan “Maaro”.
Kohli had taken a single off the first ball of the final over and Pathan approached him in the middle of the pitch, ostensibly wanting to know what the young man would like him to do, especially since he was batting on 99. The answer was instinctive: “Maaro!”
True enough, Pathan carted the next ball to long-off and they ran two, with Kohli – running to the ‘danger end’ – sprinting across to complete the second run. Everyone would have forgiven the pair if it did not take the second run and allowed Kohli the strike to be able to get to his hundred on World Cup debut. After all, India had already made 366 runs off 49.1 overs.
The young man who has been in superb form in the recent months and edged out Suresh Raina to a spot in the XI got his chance to reach the milestone only off the penultimate delivery of the innings and chipped the ball to mid on to become the first Indian batsman to make a century on maiden appearance in the World Cup.
Kohli played some delectable strokes during his massive stand with Virender Sehwag but all those images were overshadowed by his selfless act in telling Pathan to hit the ball rather than rotate the strike. To me it captured the positive intent that this Indian team has come to embrace and showcase.