In one of the greatest T20 contests, which had everything from high intensity drama to a thrilling climax in one of sports’ finest venues in the great “G”, one man stood out like an emperor. Amid the imperfections that marked the passage of play — both from players and umpires — how Virat Kohli attained near perfection in a cauldron testing players’ skills and responses to the stress of the situation will be talked about for a long time to come.
Attacked by trolls who in the recent past had found fault with him and his family, forced to surrender the captaincy in all formats and hounded by repeated failures into such moments of self-doubt that he admitted he had even begun faking his intensity, Kohli found his mojo as the finest batsman in the chase, weeks after having taken a month off to get rid of the demons of the mind. A cricket target score of fair proportions tests a batsman’s nerves the most. In living up to it on the biggest of occasions, in fact for the 18th time in T20Is, is what makes Kohli so very special, as much as his acknowledged mastery of all three formats.
In front of a noisy 90,293 crowd at the MCG in an emotionally draining atmosphere, Kohli was the most prominent of the dramatis personae even as many around him could not but display their human frailty in the face of the challenge of such an occasion as an India-Pakistan match. And yet it was an amazing contest in which teams lost early wickets to the new ball in helpful conditions and in which smart recoveries were staged by the Pakistan batsmen as well as Indian, none more than when Hardik Pandya talked Kohli into realising how India would get out of a hole and win if he stayed till the end.