Steve Smith called it the ‘Virat show’ and he was right. With one of the greatest ever Twenty20 international innings India’s batting maestro all but single-handedly sent Australia home from the 20-overs world championship on Sunday night.
Virat Kohli’s performance for the ages, a stunning and unbeaten 82 from 51 deliveries, led the tournament hosts to a six-wicket victory with five balls remaining on an electrifying night at a jam-packed Punjab Cricket Association ground.
He had effectively carried an injured Yuvraj Singh, struggling with an ankle problem, through the middle overs, but bided his time for a final fling at the victory target of 161 and then put the foot on the pedal spectacularly.
Kohli and captain MS Dhoni smashed 59 runs from the last 25 balls to pull off the dramatic escape, but it was India’s brilliant No. 3 who left jaws dropped with a staggering flourish in the last three overs.
He hammered a six and two fours in James Faulkner’s 18th over, then four boundaries in Nathan Coulter-Nile’s 19th. One the back foot minutes earlier India, all of a sudden, needed only four for victory from Faulkner’s last over. They required only one – Dhoni smacking a low full toss over the long-on rope to seal a six-wicket win with five balls to spare.