T20 WC-2022: Virat Plays His Most Incredible Innings Ever As India Win the Most Incredible Match Ever Against Pakistan!

More than ninety thousand spectators at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) watched spellbound as Virat Kohli scripted his most incredible innings ever to propel India to an incredible victory over archrivals Pakistan in their opening Group-2 match of the Super-12 stage of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup today. India-Pakistan matches are always exciting, nail-biting and full of ups and downs. However, in my lifetime experience of watching Indo-Pak cricket today’s match is perhaps the most incredible one, considering the unbelievable climax. When most of Indian fans, including this writer prominently, were almost giving up on Virat Kohli, he has chosen today’s match to prove what champion matter he’s made of. He has made the impossible possible, snatching the most improbable victory from the jaws of sure defeat. No doubt, he has thus bettered the memories of Sachin Tendulkar against Australia in Sharjah. Well, Virat’s innings of 82 in 53 balls with 6 fours and 4 sixes is not without precedents, but in the context of the depressing circumstances of the Indian chase it is momentous and unforgettable. Giving him the most enthralling company is of course Hardik Pandya—their match-winning partnership worth 113 runs.


India started the match in tremendous spirit capturing two early Pak wickets to Arshdeep after Rohit won the toss and put Pakistan into bat. As is usual in an encounter of the archrivals Pakistan recovered thanks to Iftikhar Ahmed and recovered again after being reduced to 98/5 in 14 overs and 120/7 in the 17th over to post a very competitive target of 160 thanks to Shan Masood. In reply India lost both the openers at the pitiful score of 10 in the fourth over, and when India were reduced to 31/4 in the 7th over even the most optimistic fans gave up hope despite the fact that the very capable Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya were at the crease still, basically because the scoring rate was extremely poor and the asking rate climbing all the time. As India labored to reach just 45/4 runs in full 10 overs it became too much to expect them to score 115 in just 60 balls more. To confound matters both Kohli and Pandya looked nonchalant and were going about in ways that suggested they themselves had given up any kind of a chasing dream.


If their total laidback approach was a clever ploy it really had its impact on the Pak players who apparently thought the victory was theirs and they went on perhaps a bit complacently, just trying to contain the batsmen with the spinners to make the target go beyond their reach. Pak captain Babar also made the cardinal mistake of not keeping one of his strike pacers for the last over by bowling out Afridi, Naseem and Rauf. Of the Indian pair Pandya first showed signs of aggression after 10 overs were bowled and then, of course, Virat started attacking in the most spectacular manner. Yet, the run-ball equations continued to be uphill for India. And, the Indian fans who were starting to live up nearly gave up hope when India needed 48 runs in the last three overs; lived up again as Virat plundered Shaheen Afridi’s last over, the 18th of the match; and finally got resigned to fate when India needed 28 runs in 8 balls. In that penultimate over by Rauf Kohli hit two mouth-watering sixes to bring the last-over target to an immensely possible 16 runs.


However, Babar did not have a strike pacer for the last over and he had to hand over the ball to Nawaz Mohammad who was hit robustly in his third over. But even then, the last over was the most eventful of the match. Pandya gets out first ball, India needing 16 in 5 now. Karthik comes in and takes a single—15 in 4. And Virat takes a couple—13 in 3. Next ball was hit by Virat for a six just missing the onside boundary fielder’s hands and the umpire declares a no-ball, leading to Pak protests and debates on the field—so then now it’s a very easy 6 in 3 balls. Next ball was a wide again--5 in 3 even as the free-hit ball remained to be bowled. In the free-hit ball Virat loses his stumps, but smartly runs three byes as the ball ricochets from the stump to third man, the umpire not heeding Pak protests—now it’s up to Karthik to seal the match by taking 2 runs in 2 balls.


Dinesh Karthik, however, gets out stumped in the fifth ball and Ashwin comes in needing 2 runs in the last ball. The most agitated bowler under extreme pressure Nawaz then bowls another wide and finally, India need 1 in 1 ball to win as by that time the match is already tied, open to a deciding super over, and Pak players coming in closer to prevent the single. Ashwin lifts the ball over the mid-off fielder and India win by 4 wickets. What a match! What an incredible victory! And what a start for an ‘experimenting’ Team India in their World Cup campaign! The scenes unfolding on the field indicated as if India had won the T20 World Cup-2022!


Questions still remain though about the selection of India’s playing eleven, particularly in regard to the pacers and the spinners. However, amid such incredible moments we leave the questions and instead join in the celebrations—Diwali, the Festival of Lights, happening tomorrow all over the country. Happy Diwali! Meanwhile on the first day of the Super-12 stage yesterday New Zealand scored the most emphatic win over the reigning Champions Australia and England beat Afghanistan in Group-1 matches. After a tough fight in the qualifying stage Sri Lanka, Netherlands, Ireland and Zimbabwe proceeded to the Super-12 while terribly inconsistent West Indies and an unlucky Namibia were eliminated.