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When King Kohli Left MCG Spellbound

Not so long ago, Virat Kohli’s place in the T20 team was debated as he struggled for consistency for the first time in his career and some critics even wondered whether he should be picked in the T20 team.

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Kohli had taken a break for a few weeks as he missed the tour of the West Indies in July-August. He revealed that for the first time in his career he hadn’t touched his bat for almost a month as questions arose whether he had lost the motivation to compete at the highest level.

Despite hitting 60 from 44 balls against Pakistan in the Asia Cup, Kohli’s strike rate became an eyesore for some as India failed to make it to the final. He showed he still had the game to excel in the T20 format with a blistering 122 not out from 61 balls, hitting 12 fours and sixes, in the last Super 4 match of the Asia Cup against Afghanistan.

That confidence just kept growing as he consigned Australia to defeat with a magnificent 63 from 48 balls to power India home in a huge run chase in the series-deciding third T20I against Australia in Hyderabad.

The form kept getting better as he smashed a quickfire 49 not out from 28 balls to give India an unassailable 2-0 series lead in the second T20I against South Africa in Guwahati.

There was no stopping King Kohli as he entered the T20 World Cup full of confidence and runs!

He was at his devastating best at the MCG on Sunday as he took the Pakistan bowling attack to the cleaners on a difficult wicket.

With India reeling on 31/4 after a few early wickets against a charged-up Pakistan pace battery, Kohli took upon himself to guide India home.

He started off cautiously, looking to repair the damage in the middle overs in Hardik Pandya’s company. He scored just 15 from the first 24 balls faced before he changed gears by taking on spinner Mohammad Nawaz in the 12th over, hitting him for a straight six.

After that there was no stopping Kohli, who continued to find the boundaries quite regularly while Hardik struggled with his timing from the other end.

Kohli made sure to hit a boundary each in the next three overs, but the equation got a lot tougher when Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah conceded six runs each in the 16th and 17th over.

With 48 needed from the last three overs, the match tilted slightly in Pakistan’s favour before Kohli went on an all-out assault. He pulled Shaheen Shah Afridi for a four to bring up his fifty from 43 balls, while hitting two more boundaries off the pacer to get 17 from the 18th over.

The two back to back sixes off Haris Rauf just when the match was slipping away in the penultimate over was the stuff of legend.

Babar Azam’s gamble to keep left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz for the final over hurt Pakistan big time. Nawaz started off well as Pakistan had one foot at the door of victory with India needing 13 from 3 balls, but the spinner committed a big blunder by bowling a no-ball, a high full toss, which Kohli despatched over midwicket for a six.

He followed it up with a wide before Kohli was bowled off the free hit delivery trying to slog sweep, but he still managed to get three byes after the ball deflected fine off the stumps.

With one needed from the final ball, Ravichandran Ashwin lofted Nawaz over mid-off to take India to victory as all the Indian players charged out and jumped on match-winner Kohli to celebrate the famous win.

The way Kohli turned the match on its head with his stunning assault left everyone spellbound at MCG.

From the 12th over onwards, Kohli hit 67 from his last 29 balls, scoring at a strike rate in excess of 200 to take the match away from Pakistan’s grasp in great style.

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