King Kohli singlehandedly steers India to a phenomenal victory in opener against Pakistan
By V.N. Prasad
Historically we are all aware that a ‘Cricket Match is Never Over until the Last Ball is Bowled’. What better than this match to substantiate.
90,200 plus spectators at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and millions across the globe witnessed the ‘Nerve Shattering’ last 3 overs that fetched 45 runs as India chased a modest 160. While Virat Kohli held the fort, Hardik Pandya played the perfect foil in the defining partnership of 113 runs for the fifth wicket that shaped the finish. Ultimately, it was Ashwin’s experience and wit (the way he stood statue to a wide by Mohammad Nawaz) that levelled the score at 19.5. And he caressed the last ball over mid off to set MCG on fire as we romped home.
It was a ‘High Voltage’ encounter at one of the best cricketing arenas in the world, the MCG, agog with spectators converging from all over the world. The atmosphere was electric. Pundits across the board were divided as to the decision of captain winning the toss; whether to bat or bowl. A few brows were raised as Rohit Sharma chose to bowl. 40 overs did not seem to make a difference to the pitch. But, it was the heaviness in the atmosphere and the quality of bowling of either side that were the vital factors. Undoubtedly Pak bowling strength has not only been good but also consistent; but not on Sunday.
Heavy roller had been deployed on a uniform grass cover. The deck was rock hard; indicating that the ball ensured a good carry. Technically the pitch report meant that the batsman’s ‘eye – hand’ coordination needs to be very swift. Carry was excellent; that seamers could exploit and the ball did not grip; to deny spinners of assistance. Our seamers; Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Hardik Pandya and Mohammed Shami exploited the conditions to the hilt as Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam were dismissed by the 4th over and we expected a Damp Squib then. Full marks to Shan Masood and Iftikhar Ahmed for their excellent 50s; to build a decent total of 159; that ensured a good contest on hand. Pak bowlers had the arsenal to pull off a thriller. But, our boys did well at the end.
K.L. Rahul looked pathetic and a novice as Naseem Shah castled him. KLR’s body, bat and wrists were poor; bereft of the class of an opener; not the first time — but for many. It is better to bring in Rishab Pant to open alongside Rohit.
31 for 4 in the 7th over looked writing on the wall. Virat — 82 off 53 balls — exhibited his vintage class and essayed an innings full of character. Hats off to him on his match-winning knock.
We wish the Men in Blue going forward and hope others around Virat will consolidate and put up an impressive show in the tournament.