Masterpiece In Melbourne: Virat Kohli's Historic Knock At ICC T20 World Cup 2022 Proves 'King' Is Back

He is nearly 34 and we thought he was past his best. And then Virat Kohli produced the most epic innings of his life.

Virat Kohli celebrates India's win over Pakistan at the MCG on Sunday.

Does the World Bank give a loan of adjectives? We are running out of them after Virat Kohli’s gutsy, Rocky Balboa like miracle at the Melbourne Cricket Ground at the ICC T20 World Cup 2022.

Kohli’s 82 not out (53 balls, 6x4, 4x6, 154.72 SR) helped India defeat Pakistan in a classic. Chasing 160 to win, India was 31 for 4 at one stage and seemed on their way to a crushing defeat. 

Kohli displayed his shot-making skill during his masterpiece, such as the two consecutive sixes he hit off the dangerous Haris Rauf in the 19th over, which brought India firmly back in the game. But beyond bat and ball, the innings had belief and courage. 

It could now fire up the entire Indian squad for the campaign ahead. Kohli’s 82 not out could prove as transformative an effort as Kapil Dev’s 175 not out against Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup.

The knock also has burnished Kohli’s legacy. This will rank as his finest T20 innings and one that may define his career more than his other gems. Public memory is short, but certain performances have such caliber and drama that they are relatively immune to the passage of time. 

The innings simply had everything. It came against India’s biggest rivals and a feared bowling attack. It came in the sport’s biggest event, and on a challenging ground with boundaries as far as the horizon. It came when India’s backs were to the wall. 

Irrespective of his brashness and controversies, every true Indian cricket fan prayed for Kohli on Sunday. There had been so much negativity about the soon-to-be 34-year-old for a major part of this year. And while he did end his century drought in the Asia Cup, he seemed far from his imperious best. The general consensus was Kohli’s finest seasons were behind him. 

But on Sunday, people could see how much he was giving to the fight, always looking for the extra run and haring down the pitch for singles and twos, always keeping the belief up by punching his fist or patting his partner’s shoulder. And we wanted him to take us over the line.

Yet, it was not until the 18th over that Kohli’s knock began to grow into something extraordinary, and when the Indian innings, which was flatlining, moved its toes again. After 17 overs, India were 112/ 4, with Kohli on 46. 

Shaheen Afridi, Pakistan’s main weapon, bowled the next over. Kohli hit his first ball for four, a pull to midwicket that took him to his 50. Well played, Cheeku, but at that point, it seemed little more than a small pyrrhic victory.  

But then Kohli snatched two more boundaries from Afridi. And after 18 overs, India were 129 for 4, with Kohli on 61. Rauf did a commendable job of the first four balls of the next over, conceding just three. Then came the two sixes that changed the game, and captured the sheer range of Kohli’s wagon wheel and his ability to improvise. 

The first was a straight one down the ground off a slow bouncer. The key to the shot was the way he made room for himself and then imparted enough elevation and distance on it so that it went over the ropes. 

The second one was to another corner of the ground, as he flicked one behind square. To have the presence of mind to punch one straight and the next behind square in such a high-stakes game proved the man’s greatness. 

Hardik Pandya’s contribution must be mentioned. With a sensible 40 he was an ally to Kohli at the crease. They put on 113 for the fifth wicket. He might have been the player of the match, as he also took three wickets. 

But it was Kohli’s hour. 

During the game, a pre-recorded interview of Kohli’s played on the screen. In it, he expressed his gratitude for getting an opportunity to play a high-voltage encounter like this. Now it is our turn to say, ‘Thank you, Master’.