That front foot…
Just the way it lunges at the ball…
Even in this game…
Even against these guys…
Virat Kohli isn’t a man. He is a feeling. It’s why every time he walks out to bat, he lifts the entire world with him. Or at the very least roughly around 1 billion of its people.
On a day where only the extraordinary was allowed into the MCG, one of India’s greatest played an innings that may be their greatest ever in T20 cricket. It has to be because, in the end, they won. And it drew a tear to his eye.
How it ended
India went into the final three overs needing 48 runs.
And they were facing a bowling attack that was drawing every bit of venom available on a pitch that offered scary pace and seething bounce.
All night Kohli was batting at a level that shouldn’t be possible. Like a 27th letter of the English alphabet. It was preposterous. Just like the two sixes he hit to end the 19th over.
The first one was a back-of-a-length slower ball climbing up above his waist. The only way he could have hit it straight over the bowler’s head is if his will power actually bends the laws of physics.
How can you clear the biggest cricket ground on the planet when there’s no pace on the ball, and when it was meant to get big on you? How?!
An equation that read 28 off eight balls poofed to 16 off six. And still mayhem lurked.
Spin was the price this match paid to be this awesome. Anyone that couldn’t put pace on the ball was being dispatched. And Mohammad Nawaz knew the same fate awaited him when he fronted up for the final over.
He started it well enough, with the wicket of Hardik Pandya, but when he ran into the day’s unstoppable force, everything changed.
Kohli launched Nawaz over that giant square-leg boundary, and long before the ball landed, he was signalling for a no-ball. Pakistan didn’t like that. Babar Azam and the umpires were involved in a long, animated and emotional discussion. But in the end, it was a full toss just over waist high and so India got the extra ball.
And also a free hit, which Nawaz used to break Kohli’s stumps, but that didn’t matter. You can’t take a wicket off a free hit. And, as the ball ricocheted away, Kohli just sprinted three runs. Cue dissent from Pakistan once more. They felt the ball should’ve been dead once it had hit the stumps, but the umpires disagreed again. Rod Tucker signalled byes.
India needed two off one, but Kohli was at the non-strikers’ end. And somewhere in the midst of all this Dinesh Karthik had been stumped.
Two off one with R Ashwin on strike. Who writes these scripts?
Nawaz ran in… and bowled a wide down the leg side. WHO WROTE THIS SCRIPT?!
Ashwin, one of the cleverest going around, just sidestepped that ball, and then with one needed off one, he just chipped the ball over mid-off and the next sound that the world heard was 90,238 people at the MCG expressing a whole range of emotions – and countless millions more at home screaming their heads off.
More to follow …
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo