The rivalry between India-Australia at the World Cups is a highly competitive and cherished one, with the adrenaline rush of the teams as well as the fans being at peak. The cadre of cricketers taking field, their combative spirit at display, along with the rich sporting legacy spiced with banters and ripostes ensue in high stakes at both the ends. The addition of one of the two nations in the 'venue' bracket makes it an even intense face off for the sides, with an exogenous factor coming into play.
A similar event was on display on this date four years ago, as India and Australia locked horns at Mohali in the Group Stage of ICC World T20 2016. A lot more than 2 points were at stake, considering the buildup to the encounter. The game was a virtual quarter final, with both the sides being at 4 points apiece, and vying for a place in the semi final of the coveted event. In addition to this, there were other factors which made this encounter crucial for the two nations. While it was essential for India to assert their dominance in front of their home crowd after surviving a scare against Bangladesh and faltering against New Zealand, it also offered an opportunity for Australia to trump their opponents on their soil, after being whitewashed 0-3 a couple of months back in their own backyard.
Australia batted first after winning the toss, and got off to a flyer as they raced to 50 runs within 4 overs. It took disciplined efforts by the bowling unit and some shrewd bowling changes by captain MS Dhoni to bring India back into the game, as the home side managed to restrict the Aussies to 160 runs in 20 overs.
However, India got off to the worst of starts, as they lost 3 wickets before scraping to 50 runs in close to 8 overs. India had Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh at the crease, who had anchored the Men in Blue to victory a few days back in a similar situation against archrivals Pakistan. The two started the rescue act, which was dealt with a major blow as Yuvraj caught a hamstring while running between the wickets. With running being virtually impossible for him, he was forced to play aggressive strokes, which led to his departure from the crease in the 14th over, after a valuable 21-run contribution.
India required with 67 runs of the last 6 overs for a spot in the Final Four. A big match, with pressure of runs on the board, was ahead of a big match player, who chased insanely high totals for fun. With the home side's back against the wall, one man stood between Australia and victory. That man was the talismanic Indian batsman Virat Kohli.
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Virat had started to ply his trade along with Yuvraj, and steadied his progress as he was joined by skipper MS Dhoni. The world's best chaser, along with the world's best finisher, seemed to be the calmest individuals on board, as they stuck to the basics and threatened to breach the Australian fortress with their steady and planned attacks.
The two fastest runners of India gave the world a lesson in athleticism, as they garnered a reasonable bunch of runs by rotating the strike. The attack against Glenn Maxwell, the composure against Shane Watson , and the acceleration against James Faulkner and Nathan Coulter Nile, were timed to perfection by Kohli. Captain Cool at the other end read the situation to precision, also giving his batting partner a leaf out of his book to contain the rush of excitement.
In a knock that defied the odds and redefined the dynamics of the shortest format, Virat gave the flag bearers of unorthodox fashion a lesson in immaculate batsmanship. The then Indian vice-captain exhibited the merit of technical supremacy and temperamental solidarity, as he planned every bit of the chase meticulously and executed the same in an elegant fashion, with classic cricketing drives off his willow.
The nerve racking effort of Virat, coupled with the able support of Dhoni, took India home with 5 balls to spare, with team once staring at a precarious equation of 47 from the last 4 overs. While the entire chase had revolved around Kohli's elegance, the penultimate over saw him being declared the uncrowned king of the shortest format, as he picked the gaps with precision and scored 16 runs with four of the finest cricketing shots.
Virat was rightly adjudged the Player of the Match for his mesmerising knock of 82* of 51 balls, and continued his purple patch in the semi-final, scoring an unbeaten 89 of just 47 deliveries. While India could not go all the way in the tournament, Virat Kohli was declared the Player of the Tournament for his scintillating exploits with the willow.