The greatest T20I innings ever. Period
Virat Kohli walked out, his aura lagging a step or two behind. Virat Kohli then took strike, shuffled his helmet, fiddled around with his gloves, and looked around. He seemed to be counting the fielders, he was looking at his aura, hearing it being belted out from the stands, he could see it being beamed down from the low floodlights of the PCA Stadium in Mohali.
Australia were bustling with energy, Shane Watson walked up, muttered few things, Glenn Maxwell was blurting out few things from point, there was some silence, some uneasiness, something of everything and India were one step away from the semi-final. Kohli found his aura, it was dragged close to him. Hazlewood bowled a perfect length ball on off, Kohli shuffled across, used his wrists to clip it through mid-wicket. Hazlewood turned back, he sprinted up, bowled a length ball on off, Kohli stayed put, opened the face of the bat to guide this one through point. The ball seemed to collide with his bat, but the ball bounced off his aura, this aura which was being purred on by Mohali, all in unison.
This was Kohli’s world, this was Kohli’s space, he looked around, he owned it, Australians were mere guests, and he wanted them to go away!
India were chasing 160, Shikhar Dhawan departed for 13 and his opening-partner, Rohit Sharma fell two-overs later. Kohli creamed the two boundaries, and then Raina walked back. Yuvraj Singh joined him - India were still 112-runs away from a place in the semis, with 12 overs remaining.
Yuvraj picked up a hobble, Kohli had hit his stride, in Kohli’s world one needs to run, one needs to sprint, one cannot stagnate. A single here, a nudge there, a single here, a double there, Kohli’s helmet shuffle, Kohli’s twiddling of his thumbs became more romantic, it became in sync. Yuvraj, on the other hand, was on one leg – he belted a six and limped out.
Maxwell, after all the talk, had the ball in hand. Kohli bounced down the track and smacked a six over long off. Muted, Maxwell was on his haunches, holding his face in his hands, Kohli bristled away, not bothering to even look, his companion was right there and well, Kohli’s aura was outshining the ‘nasty’ Australians.
So, when Dhoni walked out, he found steam. There was push to short mid-wicket, just on the edge of the circle and they ran, a single converted to a double. A tap to cover, another sprint, an easy single, a guide to square leg, another dash, another wink of the eye another double. There was momentum, in Kohli’s world, Dhoni was the perfect ally and here in this world, both refused to be tied down.
40 balls and 50 runs had been raised for Kohli. Three overs remained, India needed 39 more runs. James Faulkner and his assortment of several variations was about to face him. Short ball, Kohli is on the front foot, swivels it past square leg. It was then followed by a yorker, there was a smidgen of room, Kohli opened his bat and skewed past point and short third man. This was another day in Kohli’s world, when he goes berserk, but nothing seems be out of place. It is all in sync, the blitz is anything but madness.
Faulkner bowls a slower length ball, Kohli skips down the track, takes it on the up and beams it over long off. 4, 4, 6 – he was sauntering away, the helmet shuffle and the twiddling of the thumbs was now mocking the Australians, Kohli’s aura burying them.
So, when Dhoni dabs the last ball of the over to mid-on, he puts his head down and sprints. It is David Warner, it is Virat Kohli, two athletes, there is face off and Kohli is home, turns around, lofts his right hand and thwacks Dhoni’s gloves. Pure adrenaline some might say, in Kohli’s world it is all part of the norm!
20 runs from the last 2 overs.
Nathan Coulter-Nile bowls the second ball on off, Kohli stays put, opens the face of the bat just a touch, places it past point, just beyond third man. The crowd is howling, Kohli is not. He marches down the track, marches back to take strike. His aura has now taken over the man, he has allowed it to do so.
Coulter-Nile strays on the pads, fine leg is in the circle, the wrists are twirled, the ball screams past the fielder and finds another boundary. Then there is the length ball on off, Kohli takes a couple of steps, flat bats it over covers. Another boundary!
And then, the final ball in the slot, meat and drink, he biffs it through covers. Australia had plans for Kohli, they were defeated by his aura.
In Virat Kohli’s presence, in his glow, nothing else mattered. For greatest innings are played when the stakes are high and this innings was great because Kohli lived as if he would never die.
Greatest T20I innings and let there be no debates, please!
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