There was drama, there was thrill and emotions peaked in the final over as India and Pakistan played out an absolute nail-biter at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in their T20 World Cup 2022 opener on Sunday. Virat Kohli produced yet another chasing masterclass as India clinched the last-ball thriller by four wickets to get off to a winning start in the tournament.
Kohli was the main architect of India’s famous victory as he played one of the best knocks of his career so far. Kohli was just 11 off 20 balls when India were reeling in a spot of bother having lost as many as four wickets with just 31 runs on the board in the tricky chase of 160 runs.
However, the king proved why he is regarded as one of the greatest of all time by taking India home in a sensational manner. Kohli ended up scoring as many as 71 runs off his next 33 balls to keep India in the hunt till the end and help them pull off an improbable victory in the high-pressure chase.
Kohli began the real onslaught in the 18th over where he took Shaheen Afridi to the cleaners with three fours before smashing Haris Rauf for back-t-back sixes in the penultimate over to bring the equation down to 16 required off the last over. However, what unfolded in the final over kept the fans and the players on the edge as India secured a dramatic win on the last ball.
With 16 to get, Hardik was sent back by Mohammad Nawaz on the first ball as he miscued his shot and was caught by Babar Azam. Dinesh Karthik, who is India’s designated finisher in the tournament, arrived in the middle with a perfect situation for him to shine and prove his critics wrong.
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However, Karthik could only manage a single off the next ball before Kohli converted a single into two on the third delivery to reduce the equation to 13 needed off the last three balls. Kohli smacked a high full-toss from Nawaz for a huge six next and luck favoured India as it turned out to be a waist-height no-ball.
With the equation now down to 6 needed off the final three deliveries, Kohli was clean-bowled on the free-hit delivery. However, India managed to sneak three runs in byes to leave two to get off the last two balls. Just when it seemed, India had it in their bag after pulling off the unthinkable on the first four balls, Karthik was stumped by Rizwan on the penultimate delivery as more drama unfolded at the SCG.
R Ashwin arrived in the middle with India needing two off the last ball with Pakistan once again favourites. However, Nawaz ended up bowling a wide ball under pressure and Ashwin did well to leave it and tie the scores.
With millions around the globe glued to their TV screens and the spotlight on Ashwin, he nonchalantly lofted the final delivery for a single to wrap up a thrilling victory for India after a nerve-wracking last over. Following the winning run, a pumped-up Kohli punched the ground after letting his emotions flow and was later lifted and hugged by his teammates.
Relive the epic last over between India and Pakistan here:
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While Kohli rated his unbeaten 82 as the best knock of his career so far, India pulled off their highest successful run-chase against Pakistan in a T20I game. He helped India score 48 runs in the final three overs, which is the joint-most by any team in a run-chase in a T20 World Cup game.
With his knock, Kohli also went past Rohit Sharma to become the leading run-getter in T20Is and will be hoping to continue his purple patch when India take on Netherlands in their next Super 12 clash on Thursday (October 27).