Kohli leads India to beat Pakistan in T20 World Cup thriller

Kohli inspires India to a remarkable final ball win over Pakistan in a tense and nervous final.

An unbeaten 82 from Virat Kohli led India to a final ball win over Pakistan to boost their bid for a first Twenty20 World Cup crown since 2007 in front of 90,000 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The top-ranked Indians narrowed Pakistan to 159-8 and cleared home four wickets after a sensational final with superstar Kohli the hero.

Things seemed to be going badly for India as they struggled to get just 45-4 out of 10 overs halfway through their chase.

But Kohli and Hardik Pandya (40) launched a fight with a centenary standings that left India needing 16 of the final from a nervous Mohammad Nawaz, who laced it with wide and no balls to help them to their goal.

The last one left was one to forget for Pakistani Mohammad Nawaz [Willian West/AFP]

The win was crucial in a group that also includes Bangladesh, South Africa and the Netherlands and Zimbabwe qualifiers, with only the top two reaching the semi-finals.

“It’s good for our confidence to get off the ground in our first game, and the way we won is more enjoyable for us, the way we came back. Hats off to Virat. It has to end as not one of his best, but the best innings he has played for India,” said captain Rohit Sharma.

India has largely dominated Pakistan since the late 1990s, but lost two of their three previous clashes, including by 10 wickets in the group stage at last year’s T20 World Cup, and lost the Asia Cup Super 4 match.

Few sporting rivalries match the passion of India-Pakistan and the atmosphere was electric as Pakistan got off to a stuttering start after being sent off to fight captain Babar Azam for a golden duck for Arshdeep Singh.

Singh’s swing caused more carnage in his next over as Mohammad Rizwan (four) shoved a rising ball to Bhuvneshwar Kumar with a good leg.

India’s Virat Kohli, center, celebrates victory with teammates [William West/AFP]

Shan Masood survived minor run-out appeal as he and Iftikhar Ahmed worked to rebuild the innings.

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Halfway through, they hit 60-2, then Ahmed flipped a switch as the slow bowlers came up, Ravi Ashwin hit for six, then looted three more from Axar Patel.

Ahmed reached his half-century before Mohammed Shami trapped him lbw leading to a collapse with Pandya tying Shadab Khan, Haider Ali and Mohammad Nawaz in the space of 19 runs. A late bloom brought Pakistan to a par 159.

India also had a horror start with KL Rahul in the second over to Naseem Shah, who dragged the ball on his stumps. Ahmed then took a blinding catch at slip to clear skipper Rohit Sharma (four) from Haris Rauf.

Suryakumar Yadav, arguably the best T20 batsman in the world, only lasted eight balls, caught from behind to a whirlwind 16 from Rauf as Pakistani fans cheered to celebrate.

When Patel was eliminated in the next over, India faltered 31-4.

Kohli started off slow but eventually found his groove and with Pandya he started to launch a backlash, hitting three sixes in one over Nawaz.

Needing 28 from eight balls, Kohli hit two sixes off Haris Rauf to leave 16 of the final over.

Pakistani Mohammad Nawaz had a final to soon forget, giving India two walks and a no-ball that went for six before Ashwin coolly shot over the middle as India chased 160 for the win.

“I honestly have no words for it. I have no idea how that happened. Hardik (Pandya) kept telling me just believe we can stay till the end. I’m lost for words,” Kohli said.


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