Kohli magic propels India past Pakistan in epic MCG thriller

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When India and Pakistan square off on the cricket field there is always drama and this T20 World Cup clash was no different with a sold-out MCG and hundreds of millions of fans worldwide on the edge of their seat in one of the most thrilling contests in cricket history.

Led by a brilliant innings of 82 from 53 from superstar Virat Kohli, India emerged triumphant in a controversial contest which went down to the wire with Ravi Ashwin scoring from the final ball to reel in the victory target of 160 to sink Pakistan by four wickets in heartbreaking fashion.

The result is enormous for India’s chances of advancing from the Super 12 stage to the semi-finals while Pakistan now must win all four of their remaining group matches to be in contention for a spot in the final four.

“It just shows Virat Kohli is in a class of his own,” Mark Taylor said on Nine commentary.

With three overs remaining, the Indians still needed 48 runs to win, Kohli brought up his half-century off 43 balls with a boundary and then hit two more off Shaheen Shah Afridi’s over to set up a grandstand finish.

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Kohli sent Haris Rauf for back-to-back sixes in the penultimate over to leave India needing 16 from the final six deliveries from Mohammad Nawaz, who dismissed Pandya from his first ball for 40.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 23: Virat Kohli of India bats during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup match between India and Pakistan at Melbourne Cricket Ground on October 23, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

(Photo by Daniel Pockett-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

The pressure got to Nawaz, with the left-arm spinner bowling a waist-high full toss which Kohli hit for six to set up a free hit and he then bowled a wide. Still on a free hit, Kohli was then bowled but they scrambled through three runs from the ricochet to leave Dinesh Kartik on strike with two runs needed from the final two balls.

He was then stumped after he missed a sweep which dropped to the turf off his gloves to bring Ravi Ashwin out for the last ball.

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Nawaz then bowled a leg-side wide to tie the scores before Ashwin lifted the final delivery over mid-off to spark wild scenes of jubilation.

“Honestly, I’m lost for words,” Kohli said. “It’s a very, very special moment.” He said it was his most cherished T20 innings due to “the magnitude of the match”.

As the 90,000-plus rival fans at the packed iconic venue cheered themselves hoarse with every delivery in the final overs, veteran Kiwi commentator Ian Smith said: “Hands down the most amazing atmosphere I’ve ever heard at a game of cricket.”

Pakistan’s innings was mired in controversy with Ashwin found to have claimed a catch that bounced while Spidercam got in the way when a catch looked to be heading into the outfield.

Ashwin claimed an outfield catch to dismiss Shan Masood but after the Pakistani batter stood his ground, subsequent replays should the ball did not carry.

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As he dived forward, it was clear his hands did not get underneath the ball before it hit the ground.

Later in his innings, Masood skied the ball straight up off the bowling of none other than Ashwin and instead of the ball ballooning to a fielder, it hit the “spidercam” camera which was suspended high above play and the umpires ruled a dead ball.

India’s bowling attack did well to restrict Pakistan to 8-159 in their blockbuster Twenty20 World Cup clash at a sold-out MCG.

But their top order failed in the run-chase with India slumping to 4-31 after the first ball in the seventh over with Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul each out for just four, quickly followed by Suryakumar Yadav (15) and Axar Patel (2) before Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya salvaged the innings with a fighting century partnership.

There was further drama with Patel’s run-out with Pakistani keeper Mohammad Rizwan fumbling the ball as he broke the wicket.

After winning the toss, Sharma’s decision to field first immediately paid off, with young left-arm quick Arshdeep Singh removing Pakistani captain Babar Azam with his first ball in a World Cup.

The 23-year-old’s explosive opening spell, in which he also claimed Mohammad Rizwan, set the tone for the innings as Singh finished with 3-32.

After crawling to 2-32 at the end of the first powerplay, Pakistan received a boost through Iftikhar Ahmed and Masood as the pair added 76 for the third wicket.

Ahmed started boosting the run-rate in the 12th over, blasting spinner Axar Patel for three monster sixes in four balls.

But Sharma recalled Mohammed Shami to the attack in the following over and the veteran quick dismissed Ahmed for 51 to have Pakistan 3-91.

That wicket triggered a collapse of 3-7, with Shadab Khan and Haider Ali holing out to Hardik Pandya after powerful shots fell short of clearing the boundary.

Masood played the important anchor role, compiling an unbeaten 52 to give Pakistan a chance of defending their total.

The No.3 had late support from Afridi, who smashed an important 16.

Heavy rain predicted for Melbourne had threatened to interrupt the match, but Azam and Rizwan opened the batting under clear skies.

Sri Lanka cruise to win over Ireland

Sri Lanka have warmed up for a crucial Twenty20 World Cup clash against Australia with a thumping nine-wicket win over Ireland in Hobart.

The Sri Lankans chased down their target of 129 with five overs to spare on the back of an unbeaten 43-ball 68 from opener Kusal Mendis.

After losing the toss at Bellerive Oval on Sunday, Sri Lanka’s spinners came to the fore, with Maheesh Theekshana (2-19) and Wanindu Hasaranga (2-25) the pick of the bowlers.

They travel to Perth for Tuesday night’s fixture against defending champions Australia, whose tournament got off to a horror start with an 89-run loss to New Zealand.

Sri Lanka, who topped Group A to qualify for the Super 12 stage, have now won three straight after a shock loss to Namibia in their opening match.

Mendis shared a 63-run opening partnership with Dhananjaya de Silva (31 from 25) to iron out a fair chunk of the chase.

“I’m really happy about the way we played. That’s the cricket we want to play as a team,” Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka said.

“Going forward … I think (we) will continue with the confidence that the bowlers will do well.”

Sri Lanka rested opener Pathum Nissanka, who has a groin problem, but are hopeful of having him back against Australia.

They have been plagued by injuries, with pace spearhead Dushmantha Chameera and top-order batter Danushka Gunathilaka withdrawing from the tournament during the initial group stage.

Ireland could have headaches of their own, with allrounder George Dockrell being monitored as a potential COVID-19 case amid pending test results.

Cricket Ireland said Dockrell had very mild symptoms and was being managed in line with tournament and government protocols.

“A positive COVID test does not impede Dockrell’s ability to play or train, but to keep the rest of the squad as safe as possible, he will travel separately to the squad on match and training days,” they said in a statement.

Ireland, who made it through to the Super 12 stage after thrashing the West Indies by nine wickets, posted 8-128 in an innings that never got going.

Harry Tector top scored with 45 from 42, while opener Paul Stirling (34 from 25) looked good before falling in the ninth over.

Sri Lanka bowled their spinners during the latter overs to great effect, with Ireland managing just 28 runs from the final five overs.

Ireland next meet England at the MCG on Wednesday.



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