Fans of superstar athletes usually remember, recall, dissect and break down their achievements more than the protagonists themselves tend to. The athletes have an obligation to move on, look forward to the next one, without getting hung up on previous successes. But for fans, there is no such restriction holding them back. You can relive the special moments, over and over, as much as you want.
For the millions who follow cricket and, among those who admire Virat Kohli, the World T20 2016 innings against Australia in Mohali will remain one such knock.
It is hard to pick a moment, one innings, from a collection as magnificent as Kohli’s. All those international centuries, more than 20,000 runs, incredible run-chases... but even for Kohli, that night in Mohali was not just any other night.
Kohli almost single-handedly guided India to the semi-finals of the ICC World Twenty20 with a masterclass unbeaten 82-run knock in the must-win last group match against Australia.
In an interview with Australia superstar, Steve Smith Kohli was asked about his most favourite innings. The Indian captain started off by mentioning the Hobart special against Sri Lanka, then added the Asia Cup 183* against Pakistan was important for his career too. But after that, he said with a smile, “...you may not like it, but I want to point out my most favourite is the T20 we played in Mohali.”
“Geez, that was some knock, yeah...” Smith responded.
“I don’t know literally, I went into a trance,” Kohli continued. “You feel like things are looking difficult, then you just commit to what the team needs. I still don’t understand how it happened to date. And it was like everything I was hitting was going into the gaps and I just went into the zone that I couldn’t break down after, I felt that was so special. You’re under pressure and everything is coming off.”
“That’s a nice place to be, when you are in the mindset, isn’t it” Smith added.
“Amazing, as a batsman, we all try to... we get that a lot in Test cricket. You go through the grind, and then comes a phase where you know, after lunch where you are hitting where you want to. But I think in one-day cricket it’s very difficult to get into that zone straight away, so I felt like I got into that zone there (in Mohali) and as you rightly said, it’s a batsman’s bliss,” Kohli said.
A marker for how good a sporting achievement can be the reaction from those at the receiving end. Even Australians were left stunned by what they saw.
“It certainly has to be in the top three,” Kohli had said at the post-match presentation, overwhelmed by his masterclass.
“Probably the top right now, because I’m a bit emotional, so I would like to put this on top. Against Australia, a world-class side, literally a quarter-final for us, we had to go over the line. There’s a lot riding on us in this World Cup, we are playing at home and the crowds want to see us and we just want to give them as much entertainment and fun as possible.
He also added that moments like those were why he played the game.
“I don’t really know what to say right now, because I’m overwhelmed by the position we were in and then to take out the match. This is what you play cricket for. You need new challenges in every game, but trust me, you don’t like these situations too much,” Kohli added.
“MS, in the end, kept me calm. I could have gotten over-excited so I think it was a wonderful team batting effort and very happy we crossed the line.”
Dhoni called it an incredible innings, because he made the pitch look easier to bat on that it was.
“It was tremendous batting effort from him, superb batting. Especially the areas where you want to score runs, where you want to play big shots. I think more often than not, it is about selection of shots and execution of shots. I feel overall, Virat was very good not just with his strokeplay but also in the running between the wickets – you take minimum risk if you can run fast,” Dhoni said.
March 27, 2016 will remember special not just for him but for everyone who witnessed Kohli’s trance-mode heroics.
Watch moments from that match below:
Here’s what Steve Smith and MS Dhoni had to say in the press conference after the match:
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