Over 72 hours, Dhaka witnessed moments both incredible and strange. Sachin Tendulkar's 100th international hundred and a Bangladesh victory on Friday; Surprise showers on Saturday; and hold your breath, a minor earthquake measuring 4.6 on the Richter Scale on Sunday morning.
It was 8.56 a.m. when the tectonic plates mildly shifted under the Bangladesh capital's subterranean layers. And on a day when the ground beneath shook, Virat Kohli stayed firm and upright and made the night his and India's own at the Sher-E-Bangla National Stadium.
Kohli's 183 (148b, 22x4, 1x6) and his alliances with Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma, proved to be the cornerstone of India's resurgent six-wicket victory over Pakistan in a crucial Asia Cup match.
Chasing Pakistan's 329 for six, India finished with 330 for four in 47.5 overs.
India's highest successful run-chase in ODIs, the previous being the successful pursuit of England's 326 at Lord's in 2002, helped M.S. Dhoni's men stay alive in the current tournament. Currently Pakistan tops the table at nine points while India (8) is placed second but if Bangladesh (4) defeats Sri Lanka (0) on Tuesday, then the host will sail through on account of having nailed the Men in Blue during the league stage.
India lost Gambhir for a blob in the opening over bowled by off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez. The queasy moment was tided over with Sachin Tendulkar (52) and Kohli lending assurance and aggression in equal measure through their 133-run second-wicket partnership.
Finally having made his peace with an overwhelming milestone, Tendulkar dismantled Aizaz Cheema with an upper-cut six that rolled back the years. The legend's ease was mirrored by Kohli, who stood on his toes and deflected Umar Gul towards square-leg.
The two then latched on to Wahab Riaz with relish. The left-arm seamer, who was included at Sarfraz Ahmed's expense, was unable to replicate his Mohali heroics of a five-wicket haul during the World Cup semifinal. Against the run of play, Tendulkar failed to fathom Saeed Ajmal's doosra.
Kohli though continued to put the building blocks in place, alert to errors in length, willing to forget the odd streaky four and being the peer as well as mentor to Rohit in a decisive 172-run third-wicket partnership.
Promoted up the order, Rohit (68) took his time and when required, eased his forearms with a six off Cheema. The final equation whittled down to 83 from 60 deliveries and Kohli took charge, scattering Gul with an inside-out six and shredding Riaz past fine-leg and long-off.
Kohli's 11th ODI hundred and his personal best ushered in the needed triumph with Dhoni and Suresh Raina completing the formalities.
Earlier, commanding tons by openers Mohammad Hafeez (105, 113b, 9x4, 1x6) and Nasir Jamshed (112, 104b, 10x4, 1x6) vindicated Misbah-ul-Haq's decision to bat. Hafeez and Nasir collectively drilled nine fours in the first ten overs while Praveen Kumar and Irfan Pathan felt the heat.
The openers steadily built their 224-run partnership, the second highest by a Pakistani pair against India in ODIs. The best being the 230-run third-wicket partnership between Saeed Anwar and Ijaz Ahmed in 1998.
Once they got their eye in, Hafeez and Nasir smacked shots that spelt disdain. Hafeez slog-swept Yusuf Pathan and Nasir gave the charge to Praveen. The seamer angled the delivery in to the southpaw's body but the opener still carted a six!
The lone opportunity for India occurred when Tendulkar stepped in. Nasir's swat, when on 69, ricocheted off Tendulkar's right hand and the injured maestro left the field immediately. India finally made its incisions in the batting Power Play as Nasir top-edged a slog-sweep off R. Ashwin while Dinda's slower delivery trapped Hafeez.
Among the others, Younis Khan (52) shed his poor form before retreating with a sense of disbelief as his tenure was cut short by a leaping Raina, who brilliantly grabbed a one-handed catch.
Through the Pakistan innings, Dhoni used eight bowlers in a bewildering mix of 23 different spells and among them, Ashoke Dinda had a relatively better outing (two for 47). Thankfully for India, Kohli's brilliance masked the bowling inadequacies.
Scorecard - Pakistan: M. Hafeez lbw b Dinda 105 (113b, 9x4, 1x6), N. Jamshed c Irfan b Ashwin 112 (104b, 10x4, 1x6), U. Akmal c Gambhir b Praveen 28 (24b, 2x4), Younis Khan c Raina b Praveen 52 (34b, 6x4), S. Afridi c Kohli b Irfan 9 (15b), H. Azam c Kohli b Dinda 4 (5b), Misbah (not out) 4 (5b), U. Gul (not out) 0 (1b); Extras (b-1, lb-3, w-10, nb-1): 15; Total (for six wkts. in 50 overs): 329.
Power Plays: One (Overs 1-10): 51/0; Bowling (16-20): 40/0; Batting (36-40): 38/2.
Fall of wickets: 1-224 (Jamshed), 2-225 (Hafeez), 3-273 (Akmal), 4-313 (Afridi), 5-323 (Younis), 6-326 (Azam).
India bowling: Praveen 10-0-77-2, Irfan 10-0-69-1, Dinda 8-0-47-2, Raina 2.2-0-15-0, Rohit 3-0-19-0, Yusuf 5-0-30-0, Ashwin 10-0-56-1, Tendulkar 1.4-0-12-0.
India: G. Gambhir lbw b Hafeez 0 (2b), S. Tendulkar c Younis b Ajmal 52 (48b, 5x4, 1x6), V. Kohli c Hafeez b Gul 183 (148b, 22x4, 1x6), Rohit c Afridi b Gul 68 (83b, 5x4, 1x6), S. Raina (not out) 12 (6b, 1x4, 1x6), M.S. Dhoni (not out) 4 (1b, 1x4); Extras (b-5, lb-1, w-4, nb-1): 11; Total (for four wkts. in 47.5 overs): 330.
Power Plays: One (Overs 1-10): 58/1; Bowling (16-20): 35/1; Batting (36-40): 32/0.
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Gambhir), 2-133 (Tendulkar), 3-305 (Rohit), 4-318 (Kohli).
Pakistan bowling: Hafeez 9-0-42-1, Gul 8.5-0-65-2, Cheema 8-0-60-0, Ajmal 9-0-49-1, Afridi 9-0-58-0, Wahab 4-0-50-0.
Man-of-the-match: V. Kohli
Keywords: Asia Cup