Even Virat Kohli expressed his “pleasant surprise” after he finally scored his 71st international century at the Asia Cup 2022, breaking a 71-year drought. To help India complete the tournament with a decisive victory against Afghanistan in Dubai, the star batter finally attained the coveted three-figure milestone after a gap of 1,020 days. However, Kohli overcame his batting struggles to score two back-to-back half-centuries and then an unbeaten 122 off 61 balls in the continental event, which serves as a warm-up for this year’s World T20 in Australia. Kohli’s dismal run created a huge discussion regarding his future in the squad.

Ravi Shastri, a former head coach of India, praised Kohli for overcoming the dry run, which he believes would have “eaten him up.” Since scoring his 70th century in a Test match in November 2019, Kohli’s century against Afghanistan was his first in an international match.

“You stated 1020 days; I can claim that I was in the changing room for 700 days throughout that time. It’s been a while. Now that the monkey is off his back. When you achieve astonishing success, as he has when 70 hundred arrive at once, you go through a period of one, two, two and a half, or two and third years, at which time regular people start telling you that “it’s been that long.” He’s a person. He would have been consumed by it. Without even realizing it, Shastri stated on Star Sports, “He would be waking up every morning, unconsciously being reminded.

Shastri predicted that now that the burden of getting a tonne has been lifted, Kohli would feel lighter psychologically. He emphasized how the erratic player seemed to be himself for the last 40 of his innings.

“I predict he will weigh five kilograms lighter today. Don’t ask me where the five kilograms have disappeared from—at least from the head. You could tell by looking at his innings’ last 40 runs. Virat Kohli was there. His signature moves, complete contempt for bowling, and confidence and composure are all back. It took a while to arrive,” he continued.

While Sachin Tendulkar still leads the chart with 100 international tonnes, Kohli’s 71st century places him with the legendary Ricky Ponting. Speaking at the award ceremony afterward, Kohli claimed he did not feel out of shape despite his protracted wait for a hundred.