‘Not just his best knocks, it was one of India’s best’ - Rohit Sharma on Virat Kohli’s masterclass against Pakistan

Rohit Sharma was in all praise for Virat Kohli, whose brilliant 82* helped India register a four-wicket win over Pakistan in their opening game of the T20 World Cup 2022 on Sunday.
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Kohli scored an unbeaten 82 off 53 to help India seal a last-ball thriller.

Virat Kohli, who had starred in each of India’s wins over Pakistan in T20 World Cup between 2012 and 2016, and had played the lone-battle with the bat in the 10-wicket defeat in Dubai last year, stood tall once again, producing one of his best in the format to help India seal a dramatic last-ball win.

India were 31/4 in the seventh over of their run-chase of 160 against Pakistan in their opener of the T20 World Cup 2022 in Melbourne on Sunday, October 23. Kohli put on a century stand with Hardik Pandya for the fifth wicket, and paced his innings brilliantly with crucial boundaries throughout, while getting his side over the line even as the latter fell on the first ball of the final over.

It was one of Kohli’s very best among his brilliant knocks in run-chases for India over the years, and skipper Rohit Sharma, who carried his former captain on his shoulders after the tight finish, was in all praise of the knock.

“Speaking about Virat, I honestly don't think he was struggling with form or anything,” Rohit said in the post-match presser. “He was batting as good as he was, but with him, the expectations are always so high that even if he gets a good 30 or 40, people tend to talk about it.

“From the team management perspective, I thought he was in good space right from the Asia Cup where he got a month off and then he came back to the Asia Cup. He was fresh, got a brilliant hundred there, got a couple of fifties if I'm not wrong, and then leading up to the World Cup, we know the quality that he has, and he's done so well in these types of conditions in all three forms.

“Obviously, he used his experience today more than anything else, staying calm under pressure, and we know how good he is when the score is in front of him. He's one of the best chasers in the world.”

Kohli’s knock was studded with six fours and two sixes, with two maximums coming on the last two balls of the penultimate over from Haris Rauf, when India needed 28 off 8. Rohit further marked the innings as “one of India’s best” while also acknowledging Hardik’s contribution who scored 40 off 37.

“I think it has to go -- his definitely best for sure, but I think from the situation we were in, and to come out with a victory, I think it has to be one of India's best knocks, not just his best knock, because until the 13th over we were so behind the game, and the required rate was just climbing up and up. But to come out and chase that score was an extremely brilliant effort from Virat, and then obviously Hardik played a role there, as well,” said Rohit.

“I thought both of them, because these guys have played under pressure for so many games for us, so they knew exactly how to handle that kind of situation, and they did pretty well in that situation.

“Yeah, I thought that partnership between both of these guys, the hundred-run partnership, was a game-changing moment.”

Earlier, India limited Pakistan to 150/8 after opting to bowl, with Arshdeep Singh and Hardik bagging three wickets each. Arshdeep had a dream start to his World Cup career, as the left-arm seamer trapped Babar Azam for a golden duck in the first ball of his spell, and later bounced out Mohammad Rizwan and Asif Ali.

Arshdeep and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/22) extracted swing and seam with the new ball, while Hardik used the back-of-a-length to great effect. Rohit reflected on a well-rounded bowling effort.

“We knew if you keep hitting that length, it's going to be challenging, and that is something that we kept constantly putting in bowlers' ears, that challenge them -- if they hit you a couple of times there, it's fine,” said Rohit.

“Actually we got rewarded bowling that length, as well. Hardik in particular was bowling that kind of length and a couple of their batters trying to play cross-batted short got the top edge, and we got the wicket, and that is something that we spoke of at the start.

“With the way Bhuvi and Arshdeep were swinging the ball, our initial plan was to just try and pitch it up and see if we can get the ball to swing.

“The first four or five overs were brilliant to watch, honestly. For a little while it felt like a Test match because of the way the ball was moving around and the carry in the pitch, as well. It was a good cricketing pitch.”

India will be up against the Netherlands in their next Super 12s clash on Sydney on Thursday, October 27.


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