Mahendra Singh Dhoni spotted the slower ball even as it left the hand of medium-pacer Beuran Hendricks. Only the finishing touch needed to be given to the run chase against South Africa for India to enter the final. With only one run required off seven balls to achieve the target of 173, Dhoni might have as well have carted the ball over the deep midwicket fence and completed the formality.
Instead he waited for the ball to arrive and met it with the full face of the bat’s blade. As the ball dropped down on the pitch and rolled a small distance, Virat Kohli looked amused about his captain’s reluctance to finish off the game. Especially after he had told Dhoni, ‘Aap khatam karo’.
Kohli did finish it off with a boundary the following ball, off Dale Steyn, and India reached their third ICC final in as many years. But interestingly enough, despite Dhoni’s defensive play off the previous ball, India were successful against South Africa on Friday mainly due to the fact that they allowed the opposition’s bowlers to bowl a very low percentage of dot balls to them. And Kohli epitomised this fact.
Kohli at least scored a run in 65 of the 68 balls he faced. He took 28 singles, 10 of these off leg-spinner Imran Tahir. Of the first 16 balls he faced, Kohli didn’t strike a boundary. He was patient and calm, but what really made him stand apart on Friday was what usually makes him stand apart in run chases. In the 50-over format, 12 out of his 13 hundreds while chasing have resulted in an India win. A few of these successful chases have arrived right here in Sher-e-Bangla, a home away from home for Virat Kohli.
He didn’t hit a hundred on Friday. Neither did he stroke too many boundaries (seven fours and a six). Yet, he called the knock his ‘best innings’, one that was good enough for India to make it to their second World T20 final — the first time since India won the inaugural tournament back in 2007.
The number three bat had walked in at 39 for one, and the end of the fourth over. Luckily for Kohli, India had got off to a good start — 33 for no loss in three overs. This ensured that he did not have to attempt the big strokes at the start of his innings. Chances are that if he had done so, it could have led to his dismissal because this wasn’t the most fluent of Kohli’s innings.
The easy use of the wrists to smash the ball past covers or the powerful flick to midwicket was not on show early on.
From the non-strikers’ end, Kohli soon watched continued…