The India-Pakistan clash at the MCG in Melbourne on Sunday lived up to the expectations and the hype as Virat Kohli played a stellar knock of an unbeaten 82 from 53 deliveries to help India chase down 160 from an unlikely situation.
India had been reduced to 31/4 during their chase but Kohli and Hardik Pandya fought on and led their recovery. With the team needing 48 to win from the final three overs of the innings, Kohli pressed on the accelerator and smashed the Pakistani bowlers all around the ground.
The 33-year-old played some magnificent shots, with the straight lofted shot off the backfoot from Haris Rauf’s delivery being the best one of the lot. Kohli’s knock of 82 consisted of six fours and four sixes while Pandya also supported him well with a knock of 40 from 37 deliveries. It was Ravichandran Ashwin, however, who scored the winning runs with a lofted shot off the last delivery of the innings over mid off.
Pakistan had posted 159/8 earlier in the match, riding on fifties from Shan Masood and Iftikhar Ahmed. They lost their openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan early in the innings but Masood and Iftikhar’s knocks helped them recover. Shaheen Afridi also scored an useful 16 from just eight deliveries towards the end.
However, the totak wasn’t enough as it turned out in the end. There were also some heated moments in the last over of the game. A controversial no-ball was given in India’s favour which made the chase easier for them. Kohli also ran byes off a free-hit after he missed the ball and it crashed on to the stumps. Even though the decision with the no-ball was debatable, taking runs as byes in that free-hit delivery was completely legal and fair.
It was Kohli who was adjudged the Player of the Match for his superb knock. He was seen getting emotional on the field after he took India home and the effort was applauded by his teammates who ran into the field and lifted him up in their arms.
“It’s a surreal atmosphere, I have no words, no idea how that happened. I am really lost for words,” Kohli said during the post-match interview.
India will take on Netherlands next in Sydney on October 27 while Pakistan take on Zimbabwe in Perth on the same day.
Pakistan 159/8 in 20 overs (Masood 52*, Iftikhar 51; Pandya 3/30)
India 160/6 in 20 overs (Kohli 82*, Pandya 40; Rauf 2/36)
India won by four wickets.