Virat Kohli and Naveen-ul-Haq Shake Hands During Eagerly Awaited Face-Off

Source: RevSportz

Subhayan Chakraborty at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, Delhi

The Arun Jaitley Stadium came alive with pulsating energy as India squared off against Afghanistan in an ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023 clash. With a dazzling display of masterful strokes, the Men in Blue claimed a resounding victory, led by none other than Rohit Sharma, with a record seventh World Cup century. 

Rohit’s breathtaking pull shots, lofted drives, and perfectly timed cut shots sent the 34,800-strong crowd into a frenzy. His swashbuckling innings deservedly earned him accolades. Yet, amid this extraordinary exhibition, there was something else that added to the carnival atmosphere.

The moment Ishan Kishan departed, all eyes turned towards the ‘Virat Kohli Pavilion’, and the Indian dressing room. Fans surrounding the pavilion clamoured for a glimpse of the local hero. The drumrolls began, and the anticipation built as Kohli descended the staircase. A couple of shadow drives and a brisk jog later, Kohli was met with a resounding ovation from the fervent crowd.

Chants of ‘Kohli, Kohli’ reverberated through the stadium. Amidst this spectacle, media personnel found themselves engaged in lively conversations. It wasn’t Rohit’s virtuoso performance that had their attention; it was the impending showdown that had everyone buzzing.

When Kohli walked to the crease, Naveen-ul-Haq was not bowling. Hashmatullah Shahidi, the Afghan skipper, brought Naveen back straight away. By then, Kohli had faced only one ball, tapping a single off Rashid Khan.

After four deliveries, Rohit Sharma nudged the ball for a single to bring Kohli on strike, and the ‘Kohli, Kohli’ chants echoed once more. This wasn’t the first time Naveen faced this fervour from the crowd. When Rohit and Kishan were at the crease and Naveen patrolled the deep, the fans had made their presence felt to such an extent that a line of police formed near the fence where Naveen fielded.

The first ball that Kohli faced from Naveen was a dot and, to the crowd’s delight, he took a single off the second ball after it kissed the leading edge and trickled towards third man. This sequence was accompanied by relentless chanting.

In the next over, Naveen managed to bowl three dot balls to Kohli. Nevertheless, the crowd’s fervour remained undiminished. Kohli faced five deliveries from Naveen in the 24th over, and though he only collected two runs from them, he enjoyed unwavering support from the stands. While the crowd yearned for Kohli to unleash an array of shots, the players themselves shared a heartfelt moment as they exchanged a handshake and smiles. It was a captivating duel, a battle within a broader tussle, and an exhibition of sportsmanship that transcended the boundary rope.

Kohli ultimately scored just three runs off Naveen as the Afghan pacer wrapped up his second spell conceding 14 runs in three overs. It wasn’t a fireworks display of the kind that Kesrick Williams, Mitchell Johnson, and many other bowlers had endured in the past. Instead, it was a contest that had everyone on the edge of their seats. After Kohli finished the game with a superb straight hit, there was another pat on the back from Naveen before the players trooped off. Whatever had happened in the last IPL was a distant memory. As it should be. 

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