by Rex Clementine
It’s been a tough 12 month for Virat Kohli. His captaincy had become untenable in T-20 format no doubt but in Tests and ODIs, he still had much to offer. The Indian selectors didn’t think so. Rather than having different captains for different formats, they were keen on having one man looking after the team in all formats and handed the captaincy to Rohit Sharma, who is two years older than Kohli. Then, his place in the T-20 side was in question. Mainly because India needed to get the combination right.
India’s top six batters are right-handed and they needed the left-handed Rishab Pant in the midst soon. The man who was likely to get booted out was Kohli. India under Rahul Dravid is becoming a ruthless outfit and there’s no room for emotions. Failure for Kohli in the game’s biggest stage – against arch-rivals Pakistan - would have been curtains from the shortest format of the game. But he produced a master class, an effort that will be remembered for the rest of our lives. And what more, it was on the eve of Diwali too.
Kohli was slow off the blocks, scoring less than run a ball. Without panicking he left it to the last and took some calculated risks.
You could have mistaken Melbourne on Sunday for Multan or Mumbai. A total of 90,342 fans witnessed the game. Wait, but you can put 100,000 at MCG right? What happened to the rest of them? Well, for big ICC events not all tickets go on sale. The organizers hold back a parentage to be given to their sponsors and the empty seats are the ones that the sponsors failed to fill up. The reality is that within minutes of the ICC putting the tickets out of sale in August, they were all gone. Not hours, but minutes. Like hotcake.
At 31 for four, Pakistan had the game in the bag. So they thought. But it’s not over until Kohli says it’s over.
Harris Rauf who had run through India’s top order had been kept to bowl the penultimate over. He bowled good four balls but Kohli threw caution to wind for the last two. He hit a straight six and then followed it up with a flicked hit for maximum. Game on. India needed 16 off the last over.
Babar Azam had exhausted his pace options and had to rely on left-arm spin of Mohammad Nawaz to bowl the last over. He was feeling the heat. A six ball over turned out to be a nine ball over. When Kohli is in command not many people get things right. One of the modern day greats of the game, he’s been pushed around in recent times by his own people. Some have misunderstood his competitiveness. But all that was put to rest at MCG on Sunday. India and the world started loving King Kohli again.