Virat Kohli played his finest T20 innings for India to inspire his team to a miraculous four-wicket win in their opening Men’s T20 World Cup cricket match against Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.
With India needing 28 from the final two overs to complete a chase of 160, Virat Kohli hit two sixes off the last two deliveries of the penultimate over to reduce the equation to 16 off the final over.
What followed was a chaotic final over that saw two wickets, two wides, a no ball that hit the wicket and went for three byes, a six that went off a fielder’s hand and, finally, the winning run off the final delivery.
Kohli remained 82 not out off 53 deliveries and Hardik Pandya scored 40 in India’s four-wicket win. Both had rebuilt India’s innings after they had slipped to 31 for 4 in the seventh over.
Watched by a capacity crowd of 90,293 supporters at the MCG and hundreds of millions around the world, this was arguably the most watched cricket match ever.
India had struggled early when they lost both their openers to single digit scores. Suryakumar Yadav (15) started impressively but fell soon after, cramped by a rising ball from Haris Rauf to stun India’s raucous supporters. Axar patel was then adjudged run out for 2 after being sent back by Kohli., reducing India to 31-4, before Pandya and Kohli rebuild India’s innings with a 113 run partnership.
Pakistan had to work hard to reach a competitive total after being sent in to bat by India.
Arshdeep Singh (3-32), making his T20 World Cup debut, removed both the openers Babar Azam (0) and Mohammad Rizwan (4) in an impressive first over. Iftikhar Ahmed and Shan Masood then rebuilt the Pakistan innings to reach 2-60 after 10 overs before Iftikhar hit four sixes off nine deliveries before a mini-collapse saw India take 3 for7 as all-rounder Pandya took three quick wickets to see Pakistan slump to 5-98.
Shaheen Shah Afridi provided a late flourish blasting consecutive boundaries off Arshdeep before lobbing a simple caught and bowled chance back to Bhuvenshwar Kumar for 16 off 8 as Pakistan hit 99 off their final 60 balls to score 159.