The Asia Cup 2023 commenced with much anticipation as India squared off against Pakistan at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium. However, it was a day that Indian cricket star Virat Kohli would likely prefer to put behind him. Kohli’s early dismissal, having scored just four runs, triggered an avalanche of analysis and criticism. During a discussion on Star Sports, former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir didn’t mince words when evaluating Kohli’s dismissal, describing it as a “meaningless shot” and rebuking Kohli for his seemingly casual approach against the formidable Shaheen Afridi.

Gambhir stated, “Kohli played a shot that lacked any clear intent, neither moving forward nor backward. This is the result when you’re up against a bowler of Shaheen Afridi’s caliber.” He expressed his disappointment with Kohli’s choice of shot, emphasizing the necessity of having a precise plan when facing a bowler of Afridi’s stature. Meanwhile, former Pakistani fast bowler Waqar Younis offered a slightly different perspective, suggesting that Kohli may have been somewhat unlucky. He observed, “The ball didn’t come onto the bat, and it might have kept a bit low.” Nevertheless, he acknowledged Afridi’s skill in adapting his length effectively.

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It’s worth noting that both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have faced difficulties when encountering left-arm bowlers, and Shaheen Afridi adeptly exploited this vulnerability. Adjusting his length effectively after a rain delay, Afridi dismissed both of India’s top run-scorers, setting the stage for an enthralling contest. Despite these setbacks, India managed to reach a total of 266 runs, largely thanks to significant contributions from Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya.

However, the story didn’t conclude there. Pakistan’s pace trio of Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, and Haris Rauf made history by claiming all ten Indian wickets, marking a first in Asia Cup history. While this achievement deserves commendation, it also casts a spotlight on the Indian batsmen, particularly when esteemed players like Kohli falter.

Gambhir’s criticisms underscore the high expectations associated with being a cricket superstar like Virat Kohli. When you’ve achieved as much as he has, every stroke you play undergoes intense scrutiny, especially in high-stakes matches against arch-rivals. Kohli’s performance against Pakistan will undoubtedly serve as a lesson, not just for him but for the entire Indian team. It serves as a reminder that even the most seasoned professionals can have off days, and when that happens, it becomes the collective responsibility of the team to rise to the occasion.

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