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Return of CHASEMASTER: Virat Kohli SIXES bear stamp of Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni CLASS

The two shots not withstanding, Kohli’s 82 not out off 53 balls confirmed his return as ‘Chasemaster’. In 15 T20I innings in 2022, Kohli has already managed to score 567 runs at an incredible average of 51.54 at a strike-rate of 141.39. 

Return of CHASEMASTER: Virat Kohli SIXES bear stamp of Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni CLASS

There are sixes and then there are SIXES, Virat Kohli managed to produce the latter in a display that even made the legendary Sachin Tendulkar stand up and applaud. Two shots from Kohli – off the last two balls of the penultimate over of the innings against Pakistan in their Super 12 game of T20 World Cup 2022 turned the contest on its head. The two maximums came off Haris Rauf, possibly Pakistan’s best bowler on the night, make them even more special.

Tendulkar himself is no stranger to hitting memorable sixes – who can forget his assault on Shane Warne or massive blows against Michael Kasprowicz during the ‘Desert Storm’ knocks in Sharjah in the last century. Former India captain MS Dhoni probably hit the most glorified six in the history of Indian cricket – the one which made Team India world champions in 50-over cricket after a gap of 28 years.

Yuvraj Singh, of course, smashed six sixes in an over at the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 and Kapil Dev smashed four successive sixes in England in a Test match to avoid following-on. But Kohli magic was something special. Picture this, India needed 28 to win off 8 balls, Haris Rauf was steaming in and Kohli nonchalantly parked himself on the back foot but swung with a horizontal willow through the line to send the ball sailing into the sightscreen for a six.

Off the very next ball, Kohli just flicked the ball and it went miles over the fielder’s head stationed at fine leg and suddenly the target had become much more realistic 16 off 6 balls. Even Tendulkar the great turned into a Kohli fan on the night, tweeting, “@imVkohli, it was undoubtedly the best innings of your life. It was a treat to watch you play, the six off the back foot in the 19th over against Rauf over long on was spectacular! Keep it going.”

The two shots not withstanding, Kohli’s 82 not out off 53 balls confirmed his return as ‘Chasemaster’. In 15 T20I innings in 2022, Kohli has already managed to score 567 runs at an incredible average of 51.54 at a strike-rate of 141.39. The runs are studded with five 50-plus including a maiden T20I hundred earlier this year and it is the first time Kohli has managed this feat since 2016 season.

In chases across the five T20 World Cups over the years, Kohli has made 541 runs at a strike rate of 135.92. Dismissed only twice in his ten knocks, Kohli’s latest match-winning effort means his average has soared to a boggling 270.50. Outside of a 2 not out against Scotland coming in at the end of their winning chase in 2021, Kohli’s lowest score is 23 (27) in Nagpur back in 2016.

The 48 runs scored by India in the last three overs, the joint-most target runs chased by any team in the final three overs at the men’s T20 World Cup and majority of the runs came off Kohli’s willow. Australia also won against Pakistan in the 2010 edition, needing exactly as many with three overs remaining.

Kohli remains the ‘undefeated’ maestro when it comes to successful chases. The former India captain’s 18 not outs in successful chases in men’s T20Is is joint-most alongside former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik. Kohli has scored 1,621 runs in 36 successful T20I chases with 16 half-centuries, including 11 unbeaten ones.

Stats and numbers don’t alone do justice to the sheer class of Kohli’s innings. Skipper Rohit Sharma, in fact, billed the knock as the finest in Indian cricket in the shortest format of the game.

“I think it has to be one of India's best knocks, not just his best knock, because until the 13th over we were so behind the game, and the required rate was just climbing up and up. But to come out and chase that score was an extremely brilliant effort from Virat, and then obviously Hardik played a role there, as well,” Rohit said about Virat in the post-match press conference.

“Those two sixes off Haris Rauf, I think that was the turning point. Not the turning point I would say; this is where the game actually came towards us a little bit because we always knew there was one over of spin bowling. So inside in the dressing room we were thinking if we can keep about 15 to 18 runs in the last over, the guy is going to be under pressure to bowl that last over,” the Indian captain added.

Kohli once again proved why India and World cricket need the ‘Chasemaster’ at his best to enthral fans and viewers for some more time to come.

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