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India vs Australia: Virat Kohli proves he is India’s dependable World Cup crisis man


Chepauk sat mute after Shreyas Iyer hit one straight into the throat of David Warner at short cover. Flashbacks of those collapses would have played in the minds of every Indian fan, watching the horror show that was transpiring in the middle.

After having restricted Australia to 199 in their World Cup 2023 opener, India was 2 for 3 with none of their batters getting off the mark. Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan and Iyer went back to the dressing room without troubling the scorers.

Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were enjoying the bit of movement that they were getting in Chennai in the evening after the Indian spinners dominated the proceedings on a hot and humid afternoon. It looked as if the Indian batters would undo all the good work done by their bowlers.

It was crisis time in the middle and that’s when the crisis man showed up. Virat Kohli spending time in the middle, looking to stall the Australian charge was a sign of reassurance. Joined by KL Rahul, Virat Kohli began the repair job.

“This is something that you expect from people like Virat Kohli,” Gautam Gambhir said, also expressing delight at the way KL Rahul stood up and delivered.

World Cup 2023, IND vs AUS: Report

It could have been 20 for 4, but Mitchell Marsh dropped a catch of Virat Kohli in the 8th over. Kohli survived. India survived. Kohli thrived. Australia paid the price.

A 165-run partnership ensued after 2 for 3. Kohli and Rahul took control of the chase, blunting the Australian attack. It was not 350 but 200 on that Chepauk pitch was tough. After losing 3 of the top 4 for zero, it was even tougher. But the chase master showed up at the right time for India and guided his younger partner in a match-defining partnership that helped India continue their streak of winning World Cup openers.

There was a feeling of familiarity around what Virat Kohli conjured in Chennai. Deja Vu!

MAGIC IN MELBOURNE

Close to 12 months ago, in another crunch World Cup match against Pakistan, India were 31 for 4, chasing 160 in Melbourne. India’s hopes of putting one across their arch-rivals was fading as Pakistan’s bowling attack had its tail up. However, Virat Kohli did not give up.

Kohli did the repair job in Melbourne too. He kept converting those ones into twos, punished those occasional loose balls and made sure India were alive in the chase. Even then, the equation had boiled down to 48 in the last 3 overs.

Pakistan would have been favourites at that point had Virat Kohli were not there. And Kohli went on to show why by coming up with one of the most unforgettable late-over accelerations in T20 cricket history. Jaws dropped, and unbelievable shots were hit as Virat Kohli, the chase master, came to the party in Melbourne.

THAT MOHALI MASTERCLASS

Cut to 2016, Virat Kohli had dashed Australia’s hopes in a T20 World Cup match in Mohali. India were 49 for 3, chasing 161 in a must-win match. Kohli produced one of his magical knocks, sculpting a perfect chase in his trademark style. On a humid evening in the North Indian city, Kohli found joy in converting those ones into twos and slowly but steadily nudging Australia out of the contest. Kohli hit 9 boundaries and 2 sixes and ran hard between wickets for a sensational 51-ball 82.

The dreamy knock had come only days after he had helped India survive a scare against Pakistan in Kolkata with a 37-ball 55 after the hosts were reduced to 23 for 3 in a chase of 119.

Virat Kohli had shown signs of what was to come as early as 2011. PLENTY, and deservedly so, has been said about MS Dhoni’s 91 not out and Gautam Gambhir’s 97. Not enough credit has been given to Virat Kohli’s handy 35. It came after India had lost Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar in quick succession in the big final. It came when Lasith Malinga was breathing fire. It came from a 23-year-old in his maiden World Cup final at home with over a billion waiting with bated breath for a piece of history.

The ability to absorb pressure at the biggest of stages has set him apart from the rest. He may no longer give you you the feel that he was born to churn out successful run chases for India but doubt Kohli at your own peril when it’s the World Cup season.

5517 runs at an average of 88.98 in successful run-chases in ODIs. Better than the best, literally.

Published On:

Oct 9, 2023

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