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T20 World Cup, IND v PAK: How Kohli, the death-overs phenom, aced the chase - News Home

T20 World Cup, IND v PAK: How Kohli, the death-overs phenom, aced the chase

Virat Kohli, the master of run-chases, wound the clocks and sealed a memorable four-wicket win over Pakistan in a T20 World Cup match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday.

Kohli and Hardik Pandya revived India’s pursuit of 160 after it was reeling at 31 four four but it was the former’s genius at the death that saw the Indians through.

With 48 runs to win in the last three overs and Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf yet to bowl an over each, Kohli and Pandya were facing an uphill task. Kohli was batting on 46 off 42 and Pandya on 37 off 32 and both batters hadn’t quite been at their fluent best until then.

However, come Afridi’s over, 18th of the innings, and everything changed. Kohli hit three fours in the over, which yielded 17 runs, and started off by pulling one to the midwicket boundary to bring up his fifty off 43 balls. Three balls later, Afridi offered a full toss and Kohli obliged, chipping it over extra-cover for four more. Off the last delivery of the over, Kohli swivelled and hooked a short ball to the fine-leg boundary, bringing the equation down to 31 off 12 balls.

Pakistan then tried to close out the game in the penultimate over by bringing in Rauf. He aced his hard lengths with consistency as Pandya and Kohli struggled, scoring just three runs off the first four balls. That left India with 28 runs to get off eight balls. With the pressure building, Kohli responded by smashing two consecutive sixes. He first backed away outside leg-stump and hit a length ball down the ground before flicking a fullish delivery over fine-leg.

With India needing 16 runs to win off the final over, left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz bowled with a longer run-up and the wicketkeeper standing back. Pandya was dismissed off the first ball of the over as he got a top edge trying to heave the ball on leg-side.

Kohli again rose to the occasion as he swatted a full toss over deep square-leg for a six, and, to India’s delight, it was also called a no-ball for height. That left India with six to get off three balls and a free-hit to come.

With the pressure now on the bowler, Nawaz bowled a wide outside off. With the free-hit still active, Kohli was bowled trying to sweep but the ball ricocheted off the stumps and dribbled to third man, as the batters ran three runs – which were deemed byes.

However, with two to get off as many balls, it looked like there was another plot twist on the cards when Karthik was stumped. When Ravichandran Ashwin came in, India needed two off the final ball. Nawaz bowled a wide down leg-side to ease Ashwin’s nerves before the batter, with ice-cool demeanour, chipped the ball over mid-off for the winning run.

Kohli was unbeaten on 82 off 53 balls and his well-paced knock brought back memories of his 52-ball 82 against Australia in Mohali in the 2016 T20 World Cup. The 33-year-old, however, thought he had outdone it with his innings on Sunday.

“Till today, I said Mohali was my best T20 innings. There I got 82 off 52, and today I got 82 off 53. Both are just as special. But today, I will count this higher because of the magnitude. All these months when I was struggling, you guys [the crowd] kept me going. Thank you so much,” he said after the match.

“I honestly have no words. I have no idea how that happened. Hardik kept telling me, just believe we can stay till the end,” Kohli added.

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