Virat Kohli reiterated on Sunday why he is one of the best chasers in cricket, slamming an unbeaten 82 off just 52 balls to power India to an incredible four-wicket victory over Pakistan in a thrilling Super 12 match of Men's T20 World Cup at a sell-out Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.
After the right-left fast-bowling duo of Hardik Pandya and Arshdeep Singh picked three wickets to help restrict Pakistan to 159/8 in their 20 overs, Kohli and Hardik Pandya (40) shared a match-winning stand of 113 off 77 deliveries, lifting India from 31/4 to chasing 160 on the last ball to get their campaign off to a winning start.
"Well, it's a surreal atmosphere. I honestly have no words. I have no idea how that happened. It seemed impossible but then Hardik kept pushing me in that partnership and we just went deep. It just happened. Hardik kept telling me: 'just believe, believe we can do it, stay till the end'. Honestly, I'm lost for words," he said during the post-match presentation as he was named the Player of the Match.
As India scored 55 runs in 11-15 overs, Pakistan brought back Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah, who gave away just six runs each in 16th and 17th overs respectively. With 48 needed off the last three overs, Kohli brought up his fifty by fetching a short ball from outside the off-stump to pull Shaheen Shah Afridi through mid-wicket for four and ended the over with another four swivel-pulled over short fine leg.
"Well, I think when Shaheen bowled from the Pavilion end, I told Hardik we have to take him down. 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 (in the final over). I'm kind of lost for words," stated Kohli.
India needed 31 runs from the last 12 deliveries when Virat smashed Haris Rauf for back to back sizes off the last two balls of the 19th over. India then needed 16 off the last over.
Speaking about the sixes he said, "It's just that I instinctively saw it, told myself to stay still. The one at long-on was unexpected, it was a back-of-a-length slower ball. The fine leg one, I just threw my bat at it".
"Till today I have always said Mohali was my best innings, against Australia: I got 82 off 52 (51 balls). 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. 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," said Kohli signing off.
(With inputs from IANS)