India vs Pakistan: Virat Kohli’s back as king, lights up T20 World Cup with cracker of an innings | Cricket News – Times of India

MELBOURNE: Welcome to the T20 World Cup. Welcome to Virat Kohli‘s world. All 90,293 breathless spectators, Indians and Pakistanis, stood up as one at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to applaud the brilliance of India’s most complete all-format batter after he hit 82 not out off 53 balls to pull off one of India’s most memorable victories in their T20 history.
Kohli said he “will count this higher” than his 82* off 51 balls against Australia in Mohali (in 2016 T20 WC), which “was my best innings” so far.


Kohli is back, and there can be no better news for India as they begin their World Cup campaign in difficult conditions in Australia. He took control of a chase of 160 in the company of Hardik Pandya on a pacy, bouncy pitch after India had collapsed to 31/4 in 6.1 overs. Kohli and Pandya believed, putting on 113 runs for the fifth wicket as India got out of jail by four wickets.


May be he had started doubting himself, maybe the cobwebs of the mind had kept him from playing at his best. Maybe he needed this biggest of stages to free himself from self-imposed shackles.

It was only when KL Rahul and the others rushed to give him a bear hug that Kohli was jolted out of his reverie. He merely pointed a finger up at the sky, as if to remind himself of his capabilities. The younger Kohli would have jumped and screamed in exultation after playing a knock like this under extreme pressure. This Kohli is older, more calculated, more measured but as hungry.
Kohli later revealed that after the end of 18 overs, with India still needing 31 off the last two, he decided he would take on Pakistan’s most fiery, best bowler on the day, Haris Rauf. “If I could take Haris down, they would panic,” he said. It was an approach only the most audacious, the most desperate or the most talented can take. It came off.


‘Miracle in Melbourne’: Virat Kohli enthralls fans in a cliffhanger

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The fifth ball, Kohli came up with an incredible shot, a six straight over the bowler’s head which Hardik Pandya later described, shaking his head, as “unbelievable”. The next one was another six, a six over fine leg, and Rauf, the MCG veteran who plays for Melbourne Stars, was down on his knees. The momentum had shifted. “That was the moment when we knew it had come our way,” skipper Rohit Sharma later said.


“It’s a surreal atmosphere. ” Kohli said, “I honestly have no words. I have no idea how it happened. Hardik kept telling me, just believe we can stay till the end. I’m lost for words. All these months when I was struggling, you guys kept me going.”

India still needed 16 from the last over but they knew they would face the slow left-arm spin of Mohammad Nawaz. “I bowled out the quicks earlier because we needed wickets. That was the call I took,” Pakistan skipper Babar Azam would say later. The first ball, Hardik mistimed a slog straight to cover point. Fourth ball, Kohli hit a full toss for six, and it was called a no-ball for height! Pakistan was choking. One wide and three byes later, with two needed off two, Dinesh Karthik was stumped before Ashwin sealed the deal.


T20 World Cup: Virat Kohli shines in India’s win over Pakistan

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There was a top-order wobble earlier in the day too, when Pakistan batted. It was Arshdeep Singh who starred with the ball, getting Babar Azam out first ball and showing that precocious talent had translated to a proven performer. But India still leaked 99 runs in the last 10 overs as Iftikhar Ahmed and Shan Masood scored half-centuries to give Pakistan’s quicks something to defend.
In the end, Kohli’s brilliance overshadowed them all.


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