Virat Kohli redeems himself against New Zealand as he continues his comeback journey
The ever-agonizing memories of the World Cup 2019 semi-final will hurt Indian fans forever. And I was the one who celebrated Rohit Sharma’s wicket, thinking he would go on to score in the final as he was safe from the law of averages. That was stupid; that’s why it was more painful, and it will always be.
Cometh the T20 World Cup 2021, New Zealand gave another huge blow as they derailed India’s campaign. The BlackCaps had also beaten India in the World Test Championship 2021 finals. New Zealand had given wounds that were beyond healing.
Like many other emotional fans, I dreamt of enjoying some sort of revenge. Cometh the World Cup 2023, both teams were coming on the back of four consecutive victories. The constant chatter about that game and India’s jinx against the Kiwis in the World Cups was not very encouraging.
India won the toss and opted to bowl first. They started well as the table-toppers lost two opening wickets for just 19 runs. But a brilliant 159-run stand between Daryl Mitchell and Rachin Ravindra put NZ in a commanding position.
The old demons were sneaking a peek. Not for long, though, as the Indian bowling attack led by Mohammed Shami made a strong comeback. Tom Latham’s men had still managed a good total of 273 runs on the board.
It was going to be a difficult chase against New Zealand’s potent bowling attack on a ticky surface. For India’s relief, they got a flier of a start, thanks to Rohit Sharma’s relentless intent, Shubman Gill’s soothing elegance and a fair share of luck.
It wasn’t meant to be smooth sailing, though, as India were soon reduced to 76/2 from 71/0. It was time for Virat Kohli to settle some scores. It couldn’t be obviously a perfect revenge because the magnitude of both games was vastly different. But it’s still a World Cup game; you get the gist.
Kohli got a boundary just on the third delivery he faced. But his knock became scratchy as Mitchell Santer and Rachin Ravindra tested Kohli’s patience. Kohli scored at a strike rate of just 58 while facing 67 balls and hit just one boundary - a six - against the left-arm spin duo.
Virat compromised the scoring rate, but he was determined enough to hang in the middle. He enjoyed the cushion of a subpar required run rate because of the quickfire start. Kohli stitched half-century partnerships with Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul and put India in the driver’s seat.
A twist spiced up the game as India lost KL Rahul, with Suryakumar Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja to follow, while still needing 92 runs for the victory. India were ahead, but Surya’s poor ODI record and Jadeja’s recent batting performances brought up some valid concerns.
Kohli’s mistake of ball-watching instead of making eye coordination with Surya made things worse as India lost another wicket. The Chase Master had to do his thing and finish the game. It was a bigger responsibility now. With Ravindra Jadeja’s support, he did so.
Kohli didn’t complete his century, but he stood tall enough for his side. The former Indian captain is currently the leading run-scorer in the competition, and the redemption will be truly complete if he goes on to win a knock-out match for India.
It’s truly fitting that - as we remember a year of his comeback journey, he has given us another gift to celebrate, not as big but big enough. Long it may continue!