There are six and then there are SIX, Virat Kohli managed to produce the last one in a display that made even the legendary Sachin Tendulkar stand up and applaud. Two shots from Kohli – from the last two balls of the penultimate left of the innings against Pakistan in their Super 12 match of the 2022 T20 World Cup – turned the game on its head. The two maximums came from Haris Rauf, arguably Pakistan’s best bowler of the evening, making them even more special.
Tendulkar himself is no stranger to hitting memorable sixes – who can forget his attack on Shane Warne or huge blows against Michael Kasprowicz during the ‘Desert Storm’ pats in Sharjah in the last century. Former India captain MS Dhoni probably hit the most glorified six in Indian cricket history – the one that made Team India the world champion in 50-over cricket after a 28-year hiatus.
Yuvraj Singh, of course, skipped six sixes in one at the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 and Kapil Dev hit four consecutive sixes in England in a test match to avoid succession. But Kohli magic was something special. Imagine it took India 28 to win 8 balls, Haris Rauf steamed in and Kohli parked casually on the back foot but swung a horizontal willow through the line to send the ball into the screen for a six.
On the next ball Kohli simply tapped the ball away and it went miles over the head of the fielder who was stationed on the fine leg and suddenly the target had become much more realistic with 16 of 6 balls. Even Tendulkar the great turned into a Kohli fan overnight, tweeting: “@imVkohli it was arguably the best innings of your life. It was a joy to watch you play the back foot six in the 19th against Rauf for a long time was spectacular! Keep it up.”
.@imVkohli, it was undoubtedly the best innings of your life. It was a joy to watch you play, the back foot six in the 19th against Rauf for a long time was spectacular!
Keep going. #INDvPAK #T20WorldCup pic.twitter.com/FakWPrStMg— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) October 23, 2022
Despite the two shots, Kohli’s 82 out of 53 didn’t confirm his return as ‘Chasemaster’. In 15 T20I innings in 2022, Kohli has already managed to score 567 runs with an incredible average of 51.54 and a strike rate of 141.39. The runs are studded with five 50-plus, including a first T20I hundred earlier this year and it’s Kohli’s first time on this feat since the 2016 season.
In pursuits across the five T20 World Cups over the years, Kohli has racked up 541 runs with a strike rate of 135.92. Dismissed only twice in his ten strokes, Kohli’s latest match-winning attempt means his average has risen to a mind-boggling 270.50. Aside from a 2 not out against Scotland coming in at the end of their winning chase in 2021, Kohli’s lowest score is 23 (27) in Nagpur in 2016.
The 48 runs scored by India in the last three overs, the collectively most targeted runs chased by a team in the last three overs at the Men’s T20 World Cup and the majority of the runs came from Kohli’s willow. Australia also beat Pakistan in the 2010 edition, needing just as many with three overs to go.
Kohli remains the ‘undefeated’ maestro when it comes to successful chases. The former India captain’s 18 not outs in successful pursuits in the men’s T20Is are most associated with former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik. Kohli has scored 1,621 runs in 36 successful T20I chases with 16 half-centuries, including 11 unbeaten.
Statistics and numbers don’t just do justice to the sheer class of Kohli’s innings. Skipper Rohit Sharma even called the knock the best in Indian cricket in the shortest form of the game.
“I think it must be one of India’s best knocks, not just his best, because until the 13th we were so behind in the race, and the required speed just kept increasing. But chasing that score was an extremely brilliant effort by Virat, and then of course Hardik played a part in that as well,” Rohit said of Virat at the post-match press conference.
“Those two sixes from Haris Rauf, I think that was the turning point. Not the turning point I would say; this is where the game kind of came to us because we always knew there was one left of spin bowling. So inside the locker room we thought if we can hold about 15 to 18 runs in the last over, the man will be under pressure to throw that last over,” added the Indian captain.
Kohli proved once again why India and World cricket need the ‘Chasemaster’ at its best to captivate fans and viewers for a while longer.