NEW DELHI: India got their 2022 T20 World Cup campaign off to an exhilarating start, beating arch rivals Pakistan by four wickets in a nerve-wracking contest at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday. The Men in Blue gave the country a special Diwali gift on the eve of the festival, with Rohit Sharma and co. clinching a nail-biting thriller courtesy a chasing masterclass from Virat Kohli, who rolled back the years and once again showed why he is considered to be the best chase-master in limited overs cricket.
In pursuit of a tricky 160 target, India crossed the finish line off the final ball of the match which saw King Kohli at his absolute best, knocking an unbeaten 82 off 53 balls. It’s a knock that Virat has called the best of his T20I career.
The match itself was a roller coaster that saw the pendulum of momentum swinging from one camp to the other multiple times. Over 90,000 fans in the stadium and millions watching on television sets across the world were in for an absolute treat as the arch rivals played out one of the best T20 World Cup and overall T20 internationals of all time.
Here’s a look at some of the key turning points of the high-octane clash:
When Arshdeep did a Shaheen

(AFP photo)
Arshdeep Singh‘s first ever outing in a T20 World Cup match turned out to be a super special effort as the left-arm pacer produced an epic new-ball bowling display at the MCG. Just the way Shaheen Afridi rattled India right at the beginning of their clash in the 2021 edition of the T20 World Cup in the UAE, Arshdeep, this time wreaked havoc on the Pakistanis. The young left-arm pacer first dismissed Pakistan skipper Babar Azam for a golden duck and then removed World No.1 T20I batter Mohammed Rizwan. He later came back to pick another wicket, finishing with figures of 3 for 32. His wickets ensured Babar and Rizwan, the two best Pak batters could do no big damage up top and that helped India restrict Pakistan to 159/8.
Ball hitting the Spider Cam

With Pakistan at 98 for 5 after 14 overs, India had the Pakistan innings in a vice-grip and were looking to go for the kill. But that’s when Shan Masood had a lucky escape. In the 15th over, Masood, batting on 31 miscued a R Ashwin delivery and it shot straight up. What would have been an easy catch for the fielder running in from the deep cover fence, turned into a frustrating situation for the Indian players when the ball hit the SpiderCam on its way up and Masood got away with a poor shot as the delivery was declared dead. While the Indian fielders were seemingly upset, Masood got a much-needed lifeline. He eventually went on to score an unbeaten 52 and took Pakistan to a competitive total.

Vintage Virat: Back to back sixes off Haris Rauf


(AFP photo)
31 runs were needed off the final 12 balls when Shaheen Shah Afridi finished his 17-run 18th over. The momentum was with India but Haris Rauf, bowling the penultimate over, started off superbly, giving away just 3 singles off his first four balls. With 28 needed off 8 balls, it looked as if Pakistan were in total control of the situation but Kohli then, out of nowhere, clubbed back-to-back sixes off Rauf and ended the over collecting 15 runs for his team. Kohli’s tremendous striking off the last 2 balls of Rauf’s over, gave India a real chance in the game as they had 16 to chase in the final over which was to be bowled by a spinner. The momentum was firmly with India now and Virat and all of India believed the team could get to the target.

The Hardik twist


(ANI photo)
With 16 needed off the final over and a left-arm spinner in Mohammad Nawaz bowling to the likes of Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya, the scales had tilted in favour of India. But there was get another twist in the game – Nawaz got rid of power-hitter Hardik off the first ball of the over and broke the century stand, swinging the momentum back in Pakistan’s favour.
No ball six and Kohli bowled off free hit that saw India collect three crucial runs


(AFP photo)
With Virat Kohli on strike and 13 needed off 3 balls, under pressure Mohammad Nawaz bowled a waist-high full toss that was declared a no ball as fans across the MCG went berserk. Skipper Babar Azam and the rest of the Pakistanis were disappointed with the decision and also had a chat with the umpires but the decision went India’s way as they were given an extra run for a no ball and a free hit. Off the legal fourth ball of the final over, which was also a free hit, Virat Kohli went for a big hit but was bowled. Since this was a free hit delivery he couldn’t be dismissed and Virat and Dinesh Karthik took three byes as the ball went to third-man. The Pakistanis once again asked it to be declared a dead ball but three crucial byes were awarded to the Indian team.

Ashwin’s brave leave


(ANI photo)
With 2 needed off the last ball, new man in R Ashwin, who came in after DK was stumped, took a brave call against a leg sided delivery from Mohammad Nawaz, allowing it to go and not trying to smack it. An extra for wide was awarded to India and the scores were level due to some smart thinking from Ashwin. Off the final ball, with 1 needed to win, Ashwin scooped Nawaz down the ground for the winning run that saw India register a memorable win in what was a thriller of a contest.


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By Dipak

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