Melbourne, OCT 23: In what was an instant World Cup classic that had its heroes, its villains, last-over drama and everything in between, India somehow managed to beat Pakistan by four wickets at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.
The biggest of the heroes undoubtedly was Virat Kohli, who scored an unbeaten 82 off 53 that included a six in the final over when 16 were needed.
Kohli, along with Hardik Pandya, helped their team recover from 31 for four to somehow drag it over the line.
The climax of the match was the final over, which was given to left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz on a night where spin was a liability for both the sides.
Asked to defend 15 runs, Nawaz got a wicket off the first ball, and avoided a boundary off the next two deliveries as well before bowling a no-ball that was smacked for a six by Kohli. He got another wicket late in the over but that proved insufficient as Kohli had done the job by then.
Earlier, Pakistan posted a decent recovery after an almost nightmare start that saw both their star openers perish early. Iftikhar Ahmed and Shan Masood’s half-centuries helped the Green Shirts post 159-8 runs.
After inviting Pakistan to bat first, Indian seamers found plenty of bounce and movement, just as they had in their first encounter during the recent Asia Cup.
Babar Azam was out on golden duck and Mohammad Rizwan followed him back in the dugout soon after. Shan Masood played the anchor and hung around till the end but the real star was the much-criticised Iftikhar Ahmed, whose 34-ball 51 at one point threatened to unclench India’s grip on the innings.
However, once he fell, the leakage of wickets resumed, with no one sticking with Masood for long enough. The one-down lefty finished with 52 runs off 42 balls. A 16-run cameo at the very end by Shaheen Afridi was invaluable in boosting the score.