Ind vs Pak – T20 World Cup 2022 – Virat Kohli

Ind vs Pak - T20 World Cup 2022 - Virat Kohli
He might have been “lost for words” by the end of it, but Virat Kohli was sure that his undefeated 53-ball 82 against Pakistan on Sunday in India’s men’s T20 World Cup opener at the MCG was the best T20 innings of his career, “because of the magnitude of the game and what the situation was”.
From 31 for 4, when India were staring at a possible defeat, Kohli masterminded a spirited comeback with Hardik Pandya with a 113-run partnership for the fifth wicket. It was still not job done, but Kohli was front and centre right till the end as the game moved into a dramatic last over, which involved two wickets, a no-ball for height, a wide, a six – from Kohli, who else! – and arguments between the Pakistan players and the umpires, before R Ashwin hit the winning run off the last ball.
“It’s a surreal atmosphere,” Kohli told former India coach Ravi Shastri on Star Sports after the game. “I honestly have no words. I have no idea how that happened.”

“I was kind of pumping myself up to hit two sixes when we needed 28 off eight and that became 16 off six”

Virat Kohli

The task looked “impossible” at one stage, Kohli admitted, and said it was his partner, Hardik, who pushed him hard. “It seemed impossible but then Hardik kept pushing me in that partnership and we just went deep,” he said. “It just happened. Hardik kept telling me: ‘just believe, believe we can do it, stay till the end’. Honestly, I’m lost for words.”

Chasing 160 for victory, India needed 54 from the last four overs and it looked like Pakistan had the advantage. Except that there was still an over from Mohammad Nawaz left, and he had been the weak link in the attack on the night. Nawaz came later, and before that, Kohli put India back in the game with consecutive sixes off the last two balls of the penultimate over, bowled by Haris Rauf, Pakistan’s best bowler.

“I think when Shaheen [Shah Afridi] bowled from the Pavilion end, that’s when I spoke to Hardik that we need to take him down,” Kohli said. “And then the conversation was simple. He said Nawaz has to bowl one over. So I told him if I can take Haris down then they will panic because he was their prime bowler. So I was kind of pumping myself up to hit two sixes when we needed 28 off eight and that became 16 off six.”

The two sixes against Rauf, Kohli said, were instinctive. “It’s just instinctively I saw the ball and I told myself just stay still. The one at long-on was unexpected. It was a back-of-a-length slower ball. And the next one, I just swung my bat through the line of the ball and it flew over fine leg. Now standing here, I just feel like it was meant to be. It’s a very, very special moment.”

Asked to rank the innings, Kohli said it had overtaken his long-time favourite, the unbeaten 82 against Australia in 2016 in Mohali where India were chasing a target of 161 and the top order had perished early.

“Till today I have always said Mohali was my best innings, against Australia: I got 82 off 52 (51). Today I got 82 off 53. So they are exactly the same innings, but I think today I will count this one higher because of the magnitude of the game and what the situation was.”

Kohli acknowledged the contribution of the 90,000-odd MCG crowd, calling it “phenomenal”. “You guys have supported me, shown me so much love and support for all these months that I was kind of struggling, you guys kept backing me. And I am very grateful for your support. Thank you.”

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