T20 World Cup: Kohli’s ability to find boundaries at will in second half of the innings impresses Kumble

In a chasing masterclass for ages, laced with six fours and four sixes at a strike-rate of 154.72, talismanic batter Virat Kohli led India from ruins of 31/4 to chasing down 160 on the last ball of the innings with his 82 not out off 53 balls for a thrilling four-wicket victory over Pakistan in front of 90,293 runs at a sell-out Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday.

In his first 24 balls, Kohli made just 15 runs, with no boundaries against his name. But in his last 29 balls, Kohli opened up by soaking the pressure and then exploded by smacking a jaw-dropping 67 runs to re-iterate his status of being one of the finest chasers in white-ball cricket.

Commenting on Kohli’s knock, former India leg-spinner Anil Kumble was impressed with how he found boundaries at will in the second half of the innings. “What Virat has changed in the last two years, to what we are seeing him do now, is that change in his mind in terms of when to get those boundaries towards the second half of his game and that’s exactly what he did.”

“He did that to Shadab (Khan), he did that to (Mohammad) Nawaz, he hit a six after Hardik (Pandya) had hit a six. He realised that over (12th over from Nawaz that went for 20 runs) had to be a big over and that’s where the momentum shifted (for him),” said Kumble on ESPNcricinfo’s T20 Time Out show after the match ended.

Kohli, after the match ended, called his unbeaten knock at Melbourne his best-ever show in T20Is, going past another 82 not out against Australia in T20 World Cup 2016 in Mohali. Kumble added that all-rounder Hardik Pandya being Kohli’s partner in a match-winning 113-run partnership for the fifth wicket worked well for India. Pandya backed up his spell of 3/30 in four over with 40 off 37 balls, falling at the start of the final over to left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz.

“I thought it (the innings of Kohli) was (played) to perfection because Hardik was at the other end and Hardik took all the pressure in those middle overs, hitting key boundaries, especially to the spinners. That had been sort of his bane a couple of years ago. Especially in the middle overs, hitting boundaries, hitting sixes to spinners.”

In the final over, where India needed 16 to win, Nawaz bowled two wides and gave away a no-ball as well as three byes as Ravichandran Ashwin got the winning runs with a loft over mid-off.

Kumble felt Nawaz had deviated from his usual strengths, and hinted at the final over he bowled against India in Asia Cup League match in Dubai, where he couldn’t defend seven runs in the final over, as some sort of baggage he carried in his mind during Sunday’s match.

“When you bowl those kind of overs, you sort of take the spin away from (the batter). Nawaz never looked to bowl the classical left-arm spin. He sort of bowled an arm ball – and then you know Hardik looked to hit through midwicket – but never ever looked to hit the deck with spin, which he did really well in the first three overs that he bowled.”

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