December 2023
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Kohli's legendary knock stuns Pak in their 2022 T20 WC opener
Melbourne: A legendary knock from the blades of Virat Kohli saw India pull off a fabled potboiler and give an unforgettable India a Diwali gift against Pakistan in the Super 12 Group 2 opener of the T20 World Cup at MCG on Sunday.

Kohli was engulfed with his teammates, and Captain Rohit Sharma lifted the winner on his arms and twirled him like a child, acknowledging the best T20 knocks he played, considering the pressure-cooker type situation India were in against oldest rivals.

Kohli restrained his tears as Hardik Pandya jumped on to him from the behind and pecked his cheeks in celebration to one of the greatest knocks the former India captain played. India were dead and buried at 31 for 4, but Kohli (82 no off 53 balls) and Pandya (40 off 37) consolidated with a century stand and unleashed the attack after 10 overs and towards the end, the target was reduced to 48 from 18 balls with a flurry of boundaries.

Kohli struck three boundaries off Shaheen Shah Afridi in the 18th, the first of which brought his fifty in 43 balls, before signing off the 19th with successive sixes off Haris Rauf, the second was a majestic flick over deep fine leg. Needing 16 of last over off spinner Mohammad Nawaz, Hardik lost his wicket in the next ball before Kohli smashed six off a no-ball and then ran three byes off a free hit of Nawaz after the ball deflected down to deep third.

Dinesh Karthik was stumped in the penultimate ball and Ravichandran Ashwin lofted the final ball over mid-off with one needed. A visibly emotional Kohli went down on his knees and punched the ground in celebration. But credit to Pakistan, they made this encounter interesting when the game looked one-sided after Indian bowlers ruffled their top order early on, but came back with the bat first in the second half and then carried the momentum when they bowled.

Put into bat, Pakistan made 159/8 after a pendulum of fortunes swung between the extremes with both sides trading blows, starting with the brilliant spell from the Indian seamers. They forced Pakistan openers to hop around, and Arshdeep Singh struck twice to get rid of both Captain Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan early on.

Pakistan fought back through Iftikhar Ahmed (51) and Shan Masood (52 no). The former launched a tirade against the spinners, hammering three sixes off an Axar Patel over before getting to his fifty.Their partnership of 70-odd runs set the stage for a big finish, but India struck hard again with a flurry of wickets which was mainly down to Pakistan trying to force the pace too early.

Eventually a cameo from Shaheen Afridi (16 off 8) at the death and some lusty hitting from Masood got Pakistan to a competitive score.

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