SK Elite: Kohli’s 82* vs Australia single-handedly drives India into the 2016 World T20 semi-final
Virat Kohli is one name that is on everyone’s mind all the time. He is currently on a record-breaking spree. Every time he steps on the field, there is some record he breaks or sets. And there is absolutely no doubt that is one of the best chasers in limited-overs cricket.
But his love for chases was discovered only in 2012 when he scored that epic 133* against Sri Lanka in Hobart. But his first three ODI tons had all come while batting second.
In T20 cricket, Kohli hadn’t set the stage on fire, but he was fairly consistent and was a key player at No. 3 for India even in the shortest format. However, in 2016, he found a new mantra of success in T20s. He started batting conventionally, playing orthodox shots. He started to gain supreme consistency. He played normal cricket, no flashy shots like the reverse-sweep or the scoop and still scored at an excellent rate.
2016 was the coming of age for Virat Kohli, the T20 batsman. In January that year, after India’s 4-1 ODI series loss in Australia, Virat Kohli produced some magical numbers in the 3-match T20 series (which India won 3-0). He scored 199 runs in 3 games and was dismissed only once in the series. He continued his rich vein of in the Asia Cup where he scored 153 runs at a superb average of 76.50.
He then had a wonderful T20 World Cup where he was the Man of the Tournament for the second successive time. In the IPL that followed, he scored 4 centuries and amassed a staggering 973 runs in that season.
But one knock stood out in that year and that was against Australia in the World T20.
Australia post 160 batting first
It was a virtual quarter-final and Australia won a crucial toss and batted first. On a pitch that was expected to slow down, Australia got off to a flying start as they raced to fifty in just 3.4 overs. But India pulled things back nicely as they restricted the Aussies to 160.
Aaron Finch top-scored with 43 while Maxwell contributed 32 before Peter Nevill finished off the innings with a 2-ball 10. 160 was a very competitive score as the pitch was slowing down and the ball was holding up. Hence, it was not going to be easy for the Indian batsmen to chase this down.
India in trouble at 49/3
Chasing 161, India started off steadily with Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan adding 18 in the first three overs. But Nathan Coulter-Nile got rid of Dhawan with a bouncer. In walked Virat Kohli at No. 3.
As soon as he faced the first ball, you could see he was in supreme touch. Off his second delivery, he struck a beautiful boundary to mid-wicket to get off the mark. He then followed it up with a square-drive which went past backward-point for another boundary to kick-start his innings. Meanwhile, Rohit Sharma had begun watchfully.
But Shane Watson came and took two wickets (that of Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina) in two overs to leave India in tatters at 49/3.
Yuvraj Singh’s injury leaves Kohli frustrated
At 49/3, Yuvraj Singh walked out to bat. He started well as he got a boundary off his second delivery. However, while attempting a single he twisted his ankle and was unable to move freely throughout his innings.
This hampered Kohli as he is one who loves running hard between the wickets and he started feeling the need to score through boundaries. Yuvraj tried his best and scored an 18-ball 21 which included a big six off Adam Zampa.
Kohli single-handedly takes India into the semi-final
When Yuvraj was dismissed the scorecard read 94/4 in 14 overs and MS Dhoni strode out to the middle and started positively as he struck a boundary to ease some pressure. However, still, 59 runs were required off 5 overs. But that’s when Kohli took charge.
Hampered while running with Yuvraj, Kohli was suddenly back to life as he and Dhoni ran four 2s in the 16th over. Kohli got to fifty in the 17th over. He barely celebrated as he knew the job wasn’t done.
With 39 required in 3 overs, Kohli hit James Faulkner for two fours and a six in the 18th over to bring the crowd back to life. On the first ball, he swatted a slower delivery and hit it to the square-leg boundary. Then, he hit a wide-yorker to the point boundary before hitting a six over long-off to fetch 14 runs off the first three balls of the over. The over was then completed with a couple of excellent 2s. Suddenly, India were favorites as the equation was down to 20 in 12 balls.
Kohli then smashed Coulter-Nile for four boundaries in the 19th over to kill the contest. With 4 required in the final over, Dhoni (once again) finished it in style as India were through to the semi-finals.
Virat Kohli once again was phenomenal in a run-chase. After taking India home in a high-octane game against Pakistan earlier in the tournament, he almost single-handedly took India into the semi-final of the 2016 World T20. The way he batted in Mohali was a delight to watch for any cricket fan.
He was getting frustrated when Yuvraj was not able to run freely, but he kept his cool. And as soon as Dhoni joined him in the middle, he made up for all the runs he missed out earlier. The way the duo ran between the wickets was simply outstanding. They stole 2s from improbable positions. And when the (required-rate) pressure mounted, Kohli belted the Aussie bowlers all around the park to complete another run-chase.
Harsha Bhogle aptly summed up Kohli’s innings and tweeted:
It was a fabulous knock from Kohli, one that will be etched in memory for long long time.