Deconstructing Kohli’s genius knock at the MCG

Win predictor predicted that India had a 15 percent chance of winning when Kohli joined hands with Hardik

Deconstructing Kohli’s genius knock at the MCG PHOTO: AFP

If there is one word that encapsulates the innings Virat Kohli conjured on Sunday in front of a boisterous crowd of 90,293 people at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, it just might be madness. About four centuries ago, William Shakespeare wrote in one of his most famous plays: "Though this is madness, yet there is a method isn't." Kohli's phenomenal knock of 82 off 53 also had a method.

According to the win predictor, India had a 15 percent chance of winning when Kohli joined hands with Hardik. Although Kohli's pristine partnership with Hardik Pandya rescued India from a precarious 31-4, Pakistan was undoubtedly in the ascendancy. India's win looked a long way off until the seventeenth over, as the required run rate skyrocketed to16 runs per over. It was then that Kohli began dictating the terms and single-handedly transformed the game's complexion in India's favor.

Kohli didn't skip a beat in showing off his impressive blend of power, composure, and batting smarts. He targeted Shaheen Afridi in the 18th over of the chase by pulling him wide of deep midwicket, lifting one over cover before pulling him over short fine leg to plunder seventeen runs in his over. In the next over, he took down Haris Rauf by tonking him for back-to-back maximums to bring the equation to sixteen from six balls. Several heart-in-mouth moments ensued in the final over, but debonair Kohli demonstrated ice-cold nerves to ensure India kicked off their World Cup campaign on a winning note.

Wild celebrations followed as the facial expression of Indian fans at the stadium watching a master craftsman making art in real time morphed from tension to elation, and there was a buoyant atmosphere around the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Cries of "Kohli and Chak de India" reverberated around the stadium in a mark of respect to one of the all-time great performances in a World Cup. In the post-match presentation, the man who masterminded India’s astonishing win was himself at a loss of words to describe how good of an innings this was.

"It's a surreal atmosphere; I have no words, no idea how that happened," Kohli said with a smile. "I am lost for words."

When the going gets tough, so goes an adage, the tough get going. This was just one of the numerous times Kohli has shown his propensity to deliver on the big stage.  There are too many to name. Remember the 2016 World T20 match against Australia in Mohali when Kohli scored an unbeaten 82 to take India over the line? Remember the 2016 World T20 match against Pakistan in Kolkata when Kohli's unbeaten half-century helped India chase down 119 on a challenging track?

A lot has been made of Kohli's diminishing returns over the past couple of years. However, the skill and cojones shown in crafting this knock remind us that Kohli's era is far from over.