Australia v India, World T20 2016, Group 2, Mohali March 27, 2016

'Emotional' Kohli rates Mohali knock his best

ESPNcricinfo staff
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An emotional Virat Kohli has called his unbeaten, match-winning and World T20 semi-final spot sealing 82 off 51 balls as his best innings in the format. India had been set a target of 161, and they were fading away at 94 for 4 in the 14th over. The required run-rate had hit double-digits as early as the 10th over, but Kohli took it head on and did so by trusting his game.

In February, he had spoken about coming to terms with not being able to hit as many sixes as he'd like, and that he had worked past that by looking for fours. The work he had done towards that goal came to fruition in Mohali as he single-handedly led India to victory. Eight of his 11 boundaries came in the last five overs.

"It certainly has to be in the top three," Kohli said at the post-match presentation. "Probably the top right now, because I'm a bit emotional, so I would like to put this on top. Against Australia, a world-class side, literally a quarter-final for us, we had to go over the line. There's a lot riding on us in this World Cup, we are playing at home and the crowds want to see us and we just want to give them as much entertainment and fun as possible."

The game was packed up with five balls to spare and Kohli, who was at the non-strikers' end, simply raised his hands in triumph and fell to his knees with nothing more than a smile. He has a reputation of not holding back while celebrating, but this innings and the weight it lent in turning the match India's way had hit him hard.

"I don't really know what to say right now, because I'm overwhelmed by the position we were in and then to take out the match," Kohli said. "This is what you play cricket for. You need new challenges in every game, but trust me, you don't like these situations too much."

The man who reined those emotions in while the battle was at its peak was India's captain MS Dhoni. "MS, in the end, kept me calm. I could have gotten over-excited so I think it was a wonderful team batting effort and very happy we crossed the line," Kohli said.

The reason Kohli, one of the best chasers in the limited-overs game, was feeling uncertain was because of how much India struggled during the middle-overs. Suresh Raina fell to the short ball in the eighth over leaving the score at 49 for 3, and the incoming batsman Yuvraj Singh hurt his left ankle off the second ball he faced. From that time, India had to settle for 40 runs in 35 balls and found the boundary only twice.

"It was a bit tough at that time to focus on what we need to do," Kohli admitted. "He's [Yuvraj] such an explosive player, you don't have to have him at 60-70%.

"He just decided that he was just going to go for the team's cause. He perished, but it was a good thought because if you are injured, you might as well make the most of the balls that you are going to play because you are not going to be able to push as you want to push as a runner. I think that was a great call."

Virat Kohli is floored by emotion after sealing a famous win for India © Getty Images

India began reeling back lost ground with the partnership between Kohli and Dhoni, which was kickstarted by singles and twos. "Me and him have a great understanding as to where to hit the ball and how to push the fielders on the boundary and that's why you train in the gym," Kohli said. "That's why you do those fitness regimes, those sprints, and all the other tests that you go through. It all helps. I like to play for when I'm tired, I should be able to run as fast as when I'm on zero and I think that training paid off today."

Another factor in upping his game tonight was the crowd. "The support was unbelievable. Mohali has always been special. We played the 2011 World Cup semi-final here, the atmosphere was electrifying and as I said, the positive energy from the people in the stadium helps you push through those tough moments and a bit of luck goes your way as well"

Kohli hit seven of his nine fours in the last five overs, and a lot of them were placed with skillful precision. It began when he picked a slower ball - the first ball of the 18th over - from James Faulkner and clattered it to the square leg boundary. The next one - a wide yorker - was calmly steered to the backward point boundary and a lofted thwack over extra cover for six provided the exclamation point. Kohli had taken control as those six balls yielded 19 runs.

The penultimate over, from Nathan Coulter-Nile, was crashed for four fours despite what length the bowler bowled. Half-volleys were easy. Length balls simply provided leverage and the short ball was caned to the fine-leg boundary because the man was inside the circle.

Before that sequence, India had to get 39 off 18. After it, the equation was a mere 4 off 6.

"That was a pretty serious innings, that," Australia captain Steven Smith said when asked if one man had beaten his side tonight, "Under pressure, he just hit everything out of the middle and found the gaps. And he's done it for a very long time and credit to him, he played beautifully."

Dhoni was lavish with his praise for Kohli as well, but underneath that lay a rap for the rest of the Indian batsmen.

"I think he has been playing brilliantly in the last two-three, maybe four years, and we have seen him evolve as a cricketer," Dhoni said. "That is something that is very important. Everyday when you turn [up] on the field, when you play a big innings, you want to improve and you want to keep the learning because you will commit mistakes but what is important is to take the positives out of game and that's what he has done.

"He has kept improving his game, he is very hungry to score runs for the team and that's what really counts and actually it's the other batsmen who have to step up. You can't rely on one batsman, yes the others have contributed, but still at the same time, if we can do a bit more with the bat at the top of the order and the middle overs, I think we will feel the pressure slightly less. Also, it will be good, because still we feel we are batting at 65% barring Virat"

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • g.narsimha on March 29, 2016, 14:29 GMT

    MrCric32.. The snicko confirmed of fiant edge it was seen with nacked eyes in the slow motion so grow up man its not umpires our team is winning us matches

  • Arrow011 on March 29, 2016, 13:18 GMT

    There are more talented batsmen like Rohit & Raina in the 11 but both of them combined lack application & temperament like Kohli. It is time to dump Dhawan & bring in Iyer. Good to know Yuvraj is finding his way out due to his ankle, hope he does not return anymore. Manish Pandey is lot better. Now there are 3 in 15 from Uttarakhand state, despite not having a ranji state team. Dhoni, Manish Pandey from Kumaon & Pawan Negi from Garhwal. It is also time to grant the hill state a Ranji status so that more brave players come in the team.

  • tiger9999 on March 29, 2016, 9:35 GMT

    Virat is so good that he is hiding the fact that India is not playing out of form batting lineup. Ideal lineup: Rohit, Iyer, Kohli, Rahane, Uthappa, Pandya, Dhoni,Jadeja, Ashwin, Bumrah, Nehra. Extras: Dhawan, B Kumar, Shammi (when fit), Mishra, Negi

  • NeutraICricketFan on March 29, 2016, 8:41 GMT

    Virat on the other end, plays with a world class team. He has players like Raina whos one of the most explosive batsmen in India (90 of 21 and ofcourse the most runs in the IPL), Dhoni (mastermind and without him, Virat would be nothing), Dhawan (sometimes out of form but when he is he piles on runs), Rohit (unargubly the most talented batsmen in India if not in the world), Rahane (the man is very consistent and is an absolute champion), Pujara (The best test batsman for India, very talented and makes Virat look like a 12th man in Tests), Vijay (absolute class, very strong technique and very consistent) and India's producing many talents like IYER, Pandya, Jaffer, Sarfraz, Avesh and etc. India even has good bowlets like Shami, Bhuvi, Yadav, Aaron, Bumrah, Ashwin, Jadeja, Mishra and etc. Also wt do u expect Sachin to blast 100 of 31 in an era where 300 in an ODI seemed to be rare. If u don't know anything about Sachin don't comment. Remember he played for India at 15!! #respect

  • NeutraICricketFan on March 29, 2016, 8:26 GMT

    @MH19 During the 1990's India was an average team. For example, take Mustafizut Rahman, he has been bowling world class of late for an average team and ofcourse he is not winning matches! India never had any good batsmen at the time, even Dravid, Ganguly Laxman who were youngsters and came after 1996, barely performed and in pressure situations fell like a stack of cards. The only other batsmen India had was Azzurdin and even he was banned in 1999. Only after 2000, India became a "good" side. Dravid started piling runs, Ganguly started to play top innings and Laxman forged into the master he is. Also India found a great captain in Ganguly. Nonetheless, India never produced good bowlera in that era. Everyone played a few matches and went. Only Zaheer, Kumble and Bhajji became good bowlets. Even in the 2000's India were at best a competetive team till 2004 when Sehwag, Yuvraj and Dhoni emerged and later Gambhir and then you saw Sachin CONSISTENTLY winning India games. Continue...

  • imtiazjaleel on March 29, 2016, 8:04 GMT

    Self confidence and belief in his ability that what takes a player to become great. Kohli's strength on both sides of the pitch is putting the bowlers on a difficult situation and doesn't know where to bowl to him. He rarely misses a bad delivery.

  •   Mukesh Yadav on March 29, 2016, 7:57 GMT

    i m huge fan of AB but whenevr pressure situation comes, most of the time he fails.... bt Kohli is master in handling the pressure n drag out their side to win... i mean how a single man can show such a consistency in all formats?? something more to focus on test matches bt right now he is in peak of his performances.....

  • curvedrunup on March 29, 2016, 7:37 GMT

    During the late seventies and early eighties, with the start of matches being beamed live on TV we grew up watching the genial Viv Richards.When the great man was batting one always had a silent prayer on the lips that he shouldn't get out and continue batting on and on for he lived his life at the batting crease dangerously!!!The caution was thrown to the winds and the master blaster used to bat with gay abandon!!Watching Kohli one gets the same feeling..His timing,placements,raw power evokes the same response from millions of fans all over the world.At present he is the master of all he surveys and should carry the mantle for years to come!!

  • MH19 on March 29, 2016, 6:51 GMT

    Mate you are master Class its a treat to watch you bat and this is from a sri Lankan who loves cricket and admire quality batting and India is lucky to have you. You are a match winner and when ever you score big India wins but when ever Tendulkar scored India never won and your class is paramount.

  • amit28jain on March 29, 2016, 5:37 GMT

    Indian cricket team is to much dependent on Kohli. On the day Kohli performs India wins while contrary if he doesn't. It should not be like the everyone has to its role in team for better results.