Magical Kohli steers India into semi-finals
India 161 for 4 (Kohli 82*, Watson 2-23) beat Australia 160 for 6 (Finch 43, Pandya 2-36) by 6 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Is there a finer chaser in world cricket than Virat Kohli? MS Dhoni perhaps? It was a good thing for India the two of them were together in the dying stages of their quasi quarter-final against Australia in Mohali. Dhoni's men progressed to a semi-final, against West Indies, and ended Australia's World T20 campaign, and the international career of Shane Watson, with a chase of impeccable timing led by Kohli.
Set 161 for victory, India saw their required run-rate balloon up past 10 an over, up towards 12 an over, but Kohli was always poised to prick the balloon. He did so with such perfect timing - 19 runs coming off the 18th over from James Faulkner and then 16 off the next from Nathan Coulter-Nile - that you felt he never doubted himself. In the end, India got home with five balls to spare, madness when you consider they needed 47 off 24.
The win came with a boundary clubbed through long-on by Dhoni from the first ball of the 20th over. Faulkner by then was in the unenviable position of having to keep India to three or less in the final over, such was the devastation that had just occurred. Dhoni had played an important role with 18 not out off 10, but it was Kohli who fell to his knees to celebrate. This was on him. Him and his unbeaten 82 from 51 deliveries.
It was an innings of sheer class, his nine fours and two sixes just fine, clean cricket shots, placed where the fielders were not. Watson, in his final match for Australia, had been their best bowler, and when he finished his fourth over with figures of 2 for 23, Kohli decided the time had come to lift India home. His half-century had come from 39 deliveries, and his next 12 balls brought 32 runs and the victory.
The chase appeared to be stuttering while Kohli was accompanied by Yuvraj Singh at the crease. Yuvraj had rolled his left ankle during the innings and was hobbling through slowly for runs, trying to rely on his ability to hit boundaries. But there was little doubt he was a handbrake on India's innings, and Watson's remarkable running and diving catch at cover to get rid of Yuvraj for 21 off 18 probably played into India's hands.
Watson certainly tried his best to extend his career by another match, bowling Rohit Sharma for 12 and having Suresh Raina caught behind off a bouncer for 10, and by that stage India were 49 for 3 and in some trouble. Shikhar Dhawan had also fallen for 13, top-edging a pull to short fine leg off Nathan Coulter-Nile, but while Kohli remained at the crease Australia knew they were far from safe.
His chasing ability is world class, and that was the gamble Steven Smith took when he won the toss and chose to bat on a surface that offered some pace. Australia's 160 seemed slightly below-par, which might be good in golf but not in a high-pressure knock-out cricket match. Their top order made a fast start by racking up 59 for 1 in the Powerplay, but after that they struggled for momentum.
Khawaja especially looked ominous and 24 of his 26 runs came in boundaries, although Ashish Nehra had also induced a number of plays and misses. Nehra was outstanding throughout his initial three-over spell and when he returned in the dying overs, and finished with 1 for 20 from his four overs. His one wicket was that of Khawaja, who edged behind in the fifth over.
India's bowlers showed that there was spin as well as pace in the pitch. R Ashwin's first over leaked 22 as Aaron Finch launched a pair of sixes over long-on, but in his next over Ashwin had David Warner stumped, the ball turning past his bat as he danced down the pitch. It was an ominous sign for Australia, who have struggled to handle spin in India.
Glenn Maxwell was scratchy in his 31 from 28 balls, and Faulkner too struggled to score at better than a run a ball. Watson struck a late 18 not out and Peter Nevill, not renowned for his power hitting, picked up a four and a six off his only two balls, the last two of the innings, and he and Watson were all smiles as they left the field. Only the Indians were smiling about two hours later.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale