KL Rahul and Virat Kohli

'Virat scoring runs is a huge bonus for the team' – KL Rahul

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The stand-in captain for India's final Asia Cup match against Afghanistan was full of praise for Virat Kohli, who headlined the action with his much-awaited 71st international century.

With Rohit Sharma rested for Thursday's fixture in Dubai, KL Rahul led India in the final outing as they finished their Asia Cup campaign on a winning note by beating Afghanistan by a huge 101-run margin. 

India star Virat Kohli was promoted up the order and opened the innings for India with Rahul, who made an impressive 62 in 41 balls. The change worked well in India's favour as Kohli ended the wait of 1021 days by scoring his 71st international ton – joint second-most across formats – with Australia great Ricky Ponting.

When asked about whether Kohli should open the innings for India in T20Is in the post-match press conference, Rahul jokingly asked, "Toh kya mai khud beth jaun? (So should I sit out?)"

Rahul felt that a player like Kohli can score a century as an opener as well as a No.3 for India.

"Obviously, Virat scoring runs is a huge bonus for the team, and the way he played today against Afghanistan, I know he is very very pleased with how he batted today," Rahul said. "He has been working on his game and that worked beautifully today. As a team, it is important for every player to get time out in the middle.

"You get confidence if you play 2-3 innings, really happy that he could play that way. You all know Virat Kohli, you have been watching him for so many years, it is not like he will only score centuries if he opens the batting, if he bats at No.3, he can then also score centuries. It is all about roles and what role a certain player has," he added. "The role Virat had today, he played it beautifully. In the next series we play, his role would be different."

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Rahul further added that although Kohli was facing a century drought since November 2019, his contributions in that period were still "phenomenal", especially in T20Is in which he has scored 1012 runs at an impressive average of 50.60 before registering his landmark ton. 

"Obviously, the celebration by Virat was more of relief. There has been no change in his mindset, attitude, and work ethic in the last 2-3 years. There has been no difference in the way he prepares for the game. He has always had that desire, I think we are also very obsessed with numbers, obsessed with those three digits and we think, if someone is scoring hundreds, then only he is in form. His contributions have been phenomenal in the last 2-3 years," said Rahul.

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"As a player, you always want to be perfect or you want to challenge yourself towards excellency, he has always been that player. Even during this phase, he has remained in the moment and he has worked on his game. That has been a learning for our entire group.

"In that dressing room, none of us are surprised to see what he has done today. I am sure this will give him even more confidence, he will obviously cherish this hundred and this will build great confidence around the group as well," he added.

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