An unbeaten 82 from Virat Kohli led India to a last-ball win over Pakistan to supercharge their bid for a first Twenty20 World Cup crown since 2007 in Melbourne.
The Indians restricted Pakistan to 159-8 and scraped home by four wickets after a sensational final over with Virat Kohli the hero.
It looked to be going badly for India as they struggled to just 45-4 off 10 overs, halfway through their chase. But superstar Kohli and Hardik Pandya (40) launched a fightback with a century stand that left India needing 16 off the final over from Mohammad Nawaz, who peppered it with wides and no-balls to help them to their target.
There had been a six, a no-ball, two wides, a catch, and a stumping, and Kohli was running around with his arms in the air.
“I honestly have no words,” he said a few moments later. “I have no idea how that happened.”
“Hardik kept telling me to believe we can stay till the end. I’m lost for words. When Shaheen bowled from the pavilion end, I told Hardik we have to take him down. The calculation was simple. Nawaz had one over to bowl, so if I could take Haris down, they would panic. Instinctively I saw it, told myself to stay still. The one at long-on was unexpected, back of a length slower ball. The fine leg one, I just threw my bat at it.”
Kohli addresses the crowd: “All these months when I was struggling, you guys kept me going. Thank you so much.”
The victory was critical in a group that also includes Bangladesh, South Africa, and qualifiers the Netherlands and Zimbabwe, with only the top two making the semi-finals.
This was an extraordinary game and an extraordinary night.
When Rohit Sharma was asked for his reaction at the end, he said: “I have no voice left.” And he will not have been alone in that. “No matter what situation, you’ve got to believe you can pull through, and that partnership changed the game for us.”
“We knew it would not be an easy target on that pitch. We knew we would have to bat out of our skins. Virat and Hardik are experienced guys. Staying calm and taking it as deep as possible was critical, and they did that. The way we won is more pleasing for us, the way we came back. Hats off to Virat. It has to be not one of his best, but the best innings he has played for India,” Sharma said.
Babar said: “We started well in our bowling, and then all credit to Hardik Pandya and Virat Kohli. They shifted the momentum and finished the game well. We had a chance, and we asked the boys to believe in themselves, but again credit to Virat Kohli. We needed a wicket, that’s why we utilised our main bowlers. A lot of positives. The way Iftikhar played, the way Shan played and finished the innings was good for us.”