With an Indian victory looking impossible minute-by-minute, Kohli and Pandya took some time before unleashing a stunning counter-attack to script an improbable four-wicket win for India with their match-winning stand of 113 off 77 deliveries.
While Pandya made 40 off 37 balls, Kohli was at his vintage best in 82 not out off 53 balls. But that former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming took a note of, was the running between the wickets by the duo during their fifth wicket partnership which did put the pressure on Pakistan.
In big boundaries of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Kohli collected 20 singles, seven twos and one three (the byes off the free-hit that hit his stumps in the final over) in his unbeaten 82 laced with six fours and four sixes. Pandya, on the other hand, took 18 singles, three twos in his 40 off 37 balls, laced with a four and two sixes.
“The fitness in their running between the wickets was superb. He’s getting a little bit older, but to be able to maintain that intensity, he’s always had an intensity around him, but the running between the wickets was vital. Those are the little things you don’t see and they upped the ante with that and they snuck quite a few runs putting the Pakistan players under pressure.”
“That intensity is what I like about Virat Kohli. It’s not just the magical shots like the six that he had (against Haris Rauf in the 19th over), it’s the stuff in between, and that’s gamesmanship, it’s experience and it’s greatness,” said Fleming, currently the head coach at Chennai Super Kings, on ESPNcricinfo’s T20 Time Out show after the match ended.
Fleming further felt that pacer Haris Rauf, who conceded 12 runs off his last two deliveries in the penultimate 19th over, with Kohli hitting jaw-dropping sixes down the ground and over fine leg, should have resorted to bowling yorkers in the death overs, as Kohli smacked 39 runs off the 14 balls he faced in that phase of the game at a strike rate of 278.57.
“I talk about the wide yorker because when you’re needing a boundary or sixes it’s very hard to hit the wide yorker if you can deliver it (right). And I’ve seen him do it on big wide boundaries which can be protected. It was a tactic that wasn’t used by either side which surprised me. Especially when you get in front of the game and Pakistan were in front of the game. They were bossing that game.”
“India needed to hit sixes to get back into the game and win it. So you bowl the best ball and the method of being right (in these conditions) was back of a length, but still use the wide yorker, at no stage did they go wide. Haris Rauf, I thought he could have been a little bit more proactive with that and we might have seen a better result (for him). But look, this is all in hindsight, he had brought a wonderful spell,” he concluded.
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