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Six of the best - when Kohli bossed the T20I game

Celebrating Kohli's finest moments as a T20I batter, from the mayhem in Mohali to the party at the Wankhede

It was a tricky chase in Mohali in the 2016 World Cup, but Kohli handled it expertly - no wonder Harbhajan Singh is delighted  •  IDI/Getty Images

It was a tricky chase in Mohali in the 2016 World Cup, but Kohli handled it expertly - no wonder Harbhajan Singh is delighted  •  IDI/Getty Images

Virat Kohli will be playing his 100th T20I on Sunday, when India take on Pakistan in the 2022 Asia Cup in Dubai. To play that many games, you need to be performing at a very high level, consistently, for many years - 12 in Kohli's case. Along the way, there have been a number of masterly knocks. Here's ESPNcricinfo's pick of six of the best (in no particular order).
Let's get this out of the way: 2016 was Kohli's year, period. Within that, some innings stood out. In the group match against Australia at the T20 World Cup that year, for example, he handled a tricky chase expertly, with a place in the semi-final at stake. He started off in characteristic manner, seemingly in cruise control, and then shifted gears. A chase of 161 was looking tough on the slow pitch in Mohali and India's top two had fallen within the powerplay. Adding to the worry was Yuvraj Singh's twisted ankle, which made taking twos hard. While it seemed like the match was slipping out of India's hands, MS Dhoni joined Kohli at the crease, and the two started picking up runs with some helter skelter. It was in the 18th over - when the required rate had touched 13 - that Kohli finally unleashed mayhem, starting with a superbly-timed pull off James Faulkner's slow short ball. The yorker next ball missed its mark, and Kohli guided it for four through point, followed by a six over long-off. Nathan Coulter-Nile was then taken for four boundaries in the 19th over. Game over. And Kohli stood in the middle, soaking in the adulation.
What they said: "He likes a fight, he likes a scrap as well, and he loves playing against Australia" - Nasser Hussain on commentary
What Kohli said: "It [the innings] certainly has to be in the top three. Probably the top right now, because I'm a bit emotional, so I would like to put this on top."
The match is perhaps best remembered for Dhoni's gesture of defending the final ball of the penultimate over so that Kohli could hit the winning runs. But what came before was a masterclass. From Kohli. As he constructed a match-winning innings under pressure to take India to the final of the World Cup. And he was not feeling "too good" before the game.
Kohli came out when India were in need of a lift - India were 77 for 2 in nine-and-a-half overs chasing 173 for victory - and calculated the chase perfectly. He followed his usual template of scoring most of his runs upfront in ones and twos, stroking the ball into the gaps and putting the bad balls away. His first shot in anger came only off the 18th ball he faced, coming down the pitch to swing a JP Duminy delivery to the long-on boundary. He started taking his chances after that, with the pressure easing, celebrating almost every shot - his or his partner's - with trademark animation. Kohli finished off the match with a flick to the midwicket boundary after Dhoni gave him the strike in the 20th over and celebrated with a vein-popping roar.
What they said: "The least I could offer Virat was the winning shot so I played out the last ball of the 19th over without a run." - Dhoni at the post-match presentation ceremony
What Kohli said: "I have struck the ball better in T20s in other games. I have also timed the ball better than I did today and have managed to score five or six boundaries very fast. Today it was difficult as I had to work hard for the knock. But as per the importance of the game, this knock tops it."
Kesrick Williams had dismissed Kohli in 2017 and sent him off with his notebook celebration. A couple of years later, Kohli decided it would be payback time. But the knock didn't come easy. It was not a typical Kohli innings - at least at the beginning - as he could hardly time the ball. Kohli lost his cool - at himself, at the umpires, at Williams - as he struggled his way to 20 off 20 balls in a chase of 208. The asking rate was climbing and Kohli was struggling, and showing it, but the Hyderabad crowd never dialled it down. And Kohli seemed to feed off the crowd as he turned it around in the 15th over. He brought up his half-century with a lofted shot into the stands and followed it up with a slash to the deep-third boundary. The 14-run over brought the equation down to 54 off 30 and Kohli cranked it up further in the next over, hitting a four and a six off Williams. He didn't hold back on the theatrics, mocking Williams' signature celebration as he sent the crowd into frenzy. Off the last 25 balls he faced, Kohli scored 68 runs. He finished the match with eight balls remaining with a magnificent drive for six over long-off off Williams, cracking his career-best T20I score in the process.
What Kohli said: "To young batsmen watching, don't follow the first half of my innings. I was batting poorly that time. Luckily got that one over from [Jason] Holder [the 15th, which went for 15], and then I began to analyse why I'm going wrong. Realised I'm not a slogger but a timer instead, and then changed my playing style."
On a belter at Wankhede in the series decider, India turned up looking very West Indian, with openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul putting up a blistering 145-run stand. Kohli joined the fun after back-to-back wickets and seemed keen to bring back the momentum that had been slipping away. He came in at No. 4 in the 13th over after Rishabh Pant's dismissal and sent the fifth ball he faced for a wristy slog over long-on. He took no time to settle in, as he usually does, bringing up his fastest T20I fifty, off 21 balls. He seemed to be continuing from where he left off in the first T20I: cutting loose against Holder and pointing to Williams at short fine-leg on reaching his fifty. He smashed 24 runs off Kieron Pollard in the 19th over, and pulled out one big hit after the other as he went along. He finished with a strike rate of 241.37, which is his highest in T20s (min 25 balls faced), taking India to a match-winning total of 240.
What Kohli said: "It was about going out on the field and executing. I had the opportunity to do something different, which I don't usually do."
On a testing pitch at Eden Gardens, a cool-headed Kohli showed impeccable judgment and masterminded yet another chase. India had allowed Pakistan to score more than they would have liked in the 18-overs-a-side rain-affected game - 118 for 5 - and were reduced to 12 for 3 in the chase. While every other batter struggled to time the ball, or even connect with it, Kohli was in full control on a pitch that offered sharp turn. He resisted any temptation to cut loose - until the ninth over, he had only struck one boundary - as he focused on rotating the strike. But when he got his chance, he showed his class: be it the slog-sweep for six off Shoaib Malik in the 11th over, or his back-to-back boundaries through extra cover off Shahid Afridi, or the punch to the sweeper-cover boundary off Mohammad Amir. He eventually brought down the asking rate. The fifty came up, off 34 balls, and he bowed to Sachin Tendulkar, who was in the stands, in celebration. The win was sealed with 13 balls to spare.
What they said: "He [Kohli] takes everything as a challenge. He wants to improve, he wants to contribute in each and every game. And that's what it's all about, because he wants to contribute, he wants to score runs, he prepares well, he takes care of his fitness." - Dhoni at the post-match presentation ceremony
What Kohli said: "I was confident that I needed to play with a straight bat so that the strike keeps rotating. Luckily my heart rate was low when we lost three wickets, it could have shot up as it was a big game and a full stadium at Eden Gardens. I am just grateful I was able to do it."
A blistering Kohli knock in a high-octane clash [with a dash of drama, of course]. Familiar, right? It happened yet again, this time at one of his favourite venues, in the first T20I against Australia in 2016. Kohli was coming off an incredible run in the format and was all charged up on the day. In Suresh Raina's company, he took over the mantle of chief aggressor and picked runs off offspinner Cameron Boyce as easily as he did off the quicks. He was electric, running aggressively between the wickets and sticking to playing good cricket shots. He hardly slogged, used his feet well, and identified areas he wanted to target. The timing was spot on as usual. He spared no-one as he got into his zone and amped up the scoring rate to take India's total to 190: the top strokes included a back-foot drive over cover for four off Kane Richardson and the wristy flick off Shane Watson placed between long-on and cow corner, as he scored a 55-ball 90.
What they said: "By the time he ends his career, quite a few Australian grounds will have his stand." - Dhoni
What Kohli said: "I could take this stadium with me wherever I bat. This stadium is right up there with anywhere in the world."

Sruthi Ravindranath is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo