Virat Kohli rose to the occasion and played one of the memorable innings in T20 World Cup history.
His unbeaten knock of 82 helped India defeat Pakistan by four wickets in a last-ball thriller at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Kohli played multiple roles during his innings as India chased the 160 run target set by Pakistan.
First, he dropped anchor and stabilised the innings after India lost 4 quick wickets for just 31 runs.
Later, he transformed into a six-hitting machine as India made light of seemingly impossible situation and beat his biggest cricketing rivals.
Kohli’s partnership with Pandya created the platform for the final phase of the chase.
At one stage, Kohli had scored just 12 runs in 21 balls but shifted gears to reach 50 in 43 balls.
The momentum swung from one side to another.
In a thrilling finale, India needed 44 to win off the remaining 17 balls.
Pakistan were the favourites by a long shot at the point but Kohli’s brilliance came to the fore as he hit 32 runs off the next 10 balls to take India home.
Twelve of those runs came from two definitive strokes of the highest quality – effortless sixes off Pakistan’s main bowler, Haris Rauf.
India needed 16 from the final over, but began it by losing Hardik.
Karthik added a single, before Virat claimed a couple of runs.
Then Nawaz bowled a no-ball that went above the waist height, which was dispatched for a six by Kohli.
Nawaz followed that blow with a wide, and then despite bowling Virat superbly, conceded three runs as the ball was a ‘free-hit’.
There was another twist in the next ball as Rizwan stumped Karthik, leaving India needing 2 off the final ball.
Suffering a bout of nerves, Nawaz bowled a wide, to leave the scores level.
However, Ashwin hit the last ball over mid off taking India home.
Earlier, Arshdeep Singh and Hardik Pandya took three wickets each as India restricted Pakistan to 159/8 in 20 overs
An emotional Kohli said at the presentation ceremony, “I have no words, no idea how that happened. I am really lost for words. Hardik (Pandya) believed we can do it, if we stayed till the end.”
“When Shaheen Afridi bowled from the pavilion end, that’s when we decided to take him down. Haris (Rauf) is their prime bowler, and I hit those two sixes.”
“The calculation was simple. (Mohammad) Nawaz had one over to bowl, so if I could take Haris down, they would panic. From 28 in 8, it came down to 16 to 6. I tried to stick to my instincts… Standing here I just feel like it was meant to be.”
“Till today Mohali was my best innings against Australia. Today I will count this one higher… The crowd has been phenomenal. You guys (fans) kept backing me and I am grateful for your support.”
India (Playing XI):
Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik (w), Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh
Pakistan (Playing XI):
Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (w), Shan Masood, Haider Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Asif Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah
India 163 for 6 (Kohli 82*) beat Pakistan 159 for 8 (Masood 52*, Iftikhar 51, Arshdeep 3-32, Hardik 3-30) by four wickets