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Kohli Stars as India Hit 16 off Last Over to Down Pakistan

A Virat Kohli special (82* off 53) and some death-overs mayhem gave India a World Cup win for the ages against Pakistan. The game, see-sawing between the two teams all the way through to the end in front of a 90,000-strong MCG, was decided by a 16-run final over from Mohammad Nawaz.

That final over first...

Kohli and Hardik Pandya went into that over with the momentum on their side. Kohli smashed two sixes off Pakistan's best bowler - Haris Rauf - in the 19th to take the equation to 16 needed from 6. Pakistan's only bowling option was left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz, who bowled with a longer run up and with Mohammd Rizwan standing further away from the stumps. Pandya swung hard first ball but ended up getting out caught to leave the onus of that final over chase on Kohli. The next two balls fetched a single and two for Kohli and Dinesh Karthik that took the equation to 13 off 3.

Just when a six was needed, Nawaz bowled a waist-high full toss that Kohli sent over deep midwicket for a six. Marais Erasmus signalled a no-ball to bring the equation down to 6 off 3, which was followed by a wide. Off the next ball, which was still a free-hit, Kohli and Karthik ran three to completely turn the tables. Or so they believed. Nawaz then had Karthik out stumped, to leave R Ashwin face the last ball when two runs were needed. The offie smartly moved out of the line of a ball fired towards the leg side, and earned a wide, leaving him to get just one off one. Babar Azam brought the field up and Ashwin coolly hit over mid-off to complete one of the most astonishing chases at MCG.

At one stage India needed 48 off 18. How did they deal with that?

Pakistan had tough calls to make. They had an over each for Shaheen Afridi, Rauf and Nawaz left. They retained their best for penultimate and used Afridi for the 18th. Afridi dug the first one short to Kohli, who pulled it away to deep midwicket to reach his half-century. Afridi went full a couple of balls later and Kohli backed away to hit one over cover for another four. The left-arm pacer then bowled one short on the leg side that Kohli pulled over short fine to pocket 17 off the over. Rauf lived up to his billing and summoned all his experience of bowling at the MCG - as he did all evening - in the penultimate over. He restricted Pandya, as only three singles were possible in the first four balls. Just when it looked like Rauf may have left more than 25 for Nawaz to defend, Kohli turned it around. He saw through Rauf's slow bouncer and hit a gorgeous straight six and then flicked a leg side ball over fine leg for another six, snatching the momentum by the scruff of its neck.

How topsy-turvy was India's chase?


Pakistan's strong finish with the bat (more on that, later) gave them a spring in their step as they rattled India early with the ball. Naseem Shah and Rauf had India down to 26 for 3 with both openers and Suryakumar Yadav dismissed. India attempted a #5 experiment by sending out Axar Patel, but he too lasted just three deliveries - falling to a contentious run out call from the third umpire.

India's innings followed a similar pattern to Pakistan's as Kohli and Pandya slowly repaired the early damage. India limped to 45 for 4 in 10 overs, left to chase 116 off the last 10.

When did they accelerate?

Eerily, they did it exactly in the same over as Pakistan - the 12th - and like their opposition, they did it against a left-arm spinner. Pandya hit two sixes and Kohli got one in the 20-run over. Azam brought back the trio of Afridi, Shadab and Naseem, who kept the game on the knife's edge despite conceding a boundary each. Shadab's spell of 0 for 21 in 4 overs was almost match-winning in the context as he helped push the asking rate up consistently.

There were two overs near the death when it looked like the game had slipped from India's grasp as Rauf and Naseem conceded just six runs each to leave them to chase 48 off 18. And then that mayhem ensued.

About the first innings...

Early pressure from India

A throbbing MCG, mostly with India fans, got their early dose of adrenaline as India made a fantastic start with the ball. The white ball swung and Arshdeep Singh struck with his first ball in a T20 World Cup - a full, inswinging delivery trapping Babar Azam leg before. The Pakistan captain took a review back with him. Against Rizwan, Arshdeep went short, quick and on his body, eking out a top-edge that went straight to the fine leg fielder.

Slow rebuild and spin respite

Shan Masood and Iftikhar Ahmed put a brake on the early wreckage. Their attempt to get a move on was slow as they dragged the team from 32 for 2 in 6 overs to 60 for 2 in 10 overs. When they realised there was now a real need for an upward shift in the scoring rate, Iftikhar went after India's spinners. He first danced down and hit a big six over long on in an Ashwin over, and then carted three off Axar in the same region in the next over (12th).

Pandya turns the tables again

That Axar over took Iftikhar to a fabulous half-century but he fell for 51 off 34, getting out leg before to a full, fast delivery from Mohammed Shami. Pandya then arrived and displayed his hard lengths skills. Shadab and Haider Ali fell to identical dismissals, holing out to Suryakumar at long on and deep midwicket respectively in the same over. Another good length ball dismissed Nawaz caught behind, before Arshdeep returned to remove the dangerous Asif Ali for his third wicket

Strong finish

India were on course to restrict Pakistan to a sub-140 total but some late-order surge pushed them well past it. Afridi became a surprise aggressor at the end for Pakistan as he hit Arshdeep for a six and four in cameo of 16 from 8 balls as Pakistan got 34 off the last three overs (and 99 off the last 10) to post what was an incredibly competitive 159 for 8.

Brief Scores:Pakistan 159/8 in 20 overs (Shan Masood 52*, Iftikhar Ahmed 51; Hardik Pandya 3-30, Arshdeep Singh 3-32) lost to India 160/6 in 20 overs (Virat Kohli 82*, Hardik Pandya 40; Haris Rauf 2-36) by 4 wickets

What next for the teams?

India have a three-day gap before they face Netherlands on October 27 at the Sydney Cricket Ground. On the same day, Pakistan face Zimbabwe in Perth.

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