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Monday, October 24, 2022

a king called Virat Kohli ... .. .. and that last over by a spinner !!

We would tend to say, it is only a game, a Cricket match .. .. but a game involving India Vs Pakistan is always emotional buster ! .. .. so too was the 16th Match, Group 2 (N), Melbourne, October 23, 2022, ICC Men's T20 World Cup - T20I no. 1842 that went down the wire. 

No post on the entire match, but more on the dying moments, especially on the last over and the Umpiring decisions now questioned by few that includes famous fast bowlers of yesteryears from Pak.  The thrilling match between India and Pakistan on Sunday ended with India defeating Pakistan by four wickets. For many it was a revenge of the defeat that Pak handed last year.     

The final over was bowled by a leftarm spinner and perhaps Babar needed Maths tuition.  He had Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf – yet preferred Nawaz to bowl the final over without shuffling them.   Mohammad Nawaz may have  started out  as a quickie  at the age of 14 as a left-arm medium-fast bowler but now only bowls slow left arm spin. 

India won the toss and Rohit preferred to chase.  Arshdeep made immediate dent in removing Babar Azam for a duck and later accounted for Mohammad Rizwan.  He and Hardik Pandya bowled so well and both took 3 wickets.  Bhuvaneswar was wayward in the death.  From 15/2 – Pak made a slow progress to 91/3 in 12.2 and 98/5 in 13.6  - in the last 6 – they made runs to set a target of 160 which at some point of time looked insurmountable. 


After early debacle, Hardik Pandya, Virat Kohli's  century stand  rescued India and set them up for their grandstand finish.   The pair retrieved from the depths of 31 for 4 in a chase of 160.  When Hardik walked in in the seventh over, India had lost KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav and Axar Patel. They needed 129 runs from 83 balls - asking rate over nine. There was only Dinesh Karthik, R Ashwin and the fast bowlers to follow. The asking rate rose  to over 11 as the partnership went the next 24 balls without a boundary. 

Even by IPL standards – 48 off 18 is sort of most difficult if not impossible – India overcame this because of Kohli’s magical wand.  The 48 runs by India are the joint-second most target runs chased in the last three overs in men's T20Is, behind the 59 by Sri Lanka against Australia earlier this year in Pallekele.


From 48, it boiled down to 31 from 12. Haris Rauf bowled so well conceding just three from his first four balls. That made it 28 from eight. At this stage, Pakistan looked clear winner  - then off 18.5 – Virat Kohli hit a stunning six – a  length ball, hit back with a straight six with a swagger of hip and clearing the ropes.   Next a swinging fullish ball down the leg, flicked so beautifully like an artist – pure wrist work sent it soaring over fine leg.   Equation changed for the better – 12 off the last 2 made it 16 of the final over !! 

               Mohammad Nawaz to bowl with lots of tips offered by mates.  The wicket keeper Mohammad Rizwan was standing back to the spinner-  Deep extra-cover, long-off, long-on, cow corner, deep square leg are back and came another twist.  Hardik Pandya tried to slog over leg, edged to cover point.   16 off 5 is gettable.  The touted finished Dinesh Karthik walked in, hit a full toss for 1 .. .. 15 off 4 – Kohli ran 2 .. ..  15 from 4 – requires boundary of every ball .. ..  then came the climax .. .. 19.4 was a no ball, Kohli dragged the full toss over deep square, fielder getting a hand to it, for a 6.   Next ball was a wide .. so still 19.4 to be bowled – Kohli bowled – but being a free hit, not out – ball went to 3rd man region.  Kohli ran 3 – what fitness levels !  2 runs required off 2 – DK jumped, played all over, ball hit his pads, Rizwan collected it wide leg side, and stumped him.  Ravichandran Ashwin walked in – 2 off 1  … .. inexperienced Nawaz bowled another wide – so now India could not lose – 1 off 1 – if hit – India wins, if not, there could be tie and super over !  . .. ..  Ashwin casually cleared the infielder and with that match was won . .. ball rolled to the boundary.  

If a team can win from 28 off 8 – it was King Kohli magic.    Two back-to-back sixes off the excellent Haris Rauf, and that put all the pressure on Mohammad Nawaz, whose last over was a total mess !! 

Now about that mistimed decision to bowl Nawaz and the crazy 20th over there were some purported controversies. 

1.     That No ball which Kohli hit for a six.  It was dipping – waist-high, Kohli hoisted it over and immediately appealed for a no ball too. 

It was flash point as the Pakistan team converged around the umpire Rod Tucker in protest.  It was not marginal as pointed out by slow motion – it was indeed a no ball – and a good decision by Umpire at that .


2.     Then runs after being bowled – Pakis contended with the Umpire that the ball had hit the stumps and hence should be a dead ball.  

Former Australian cricketer Brad Hogg also raised this objection.  It was poor understanding of the laws of Cricket by Pakis and again Umpires were right .. .. full marks to Kohli and DK who without waiting for the decision kept running and in fact ran 3 !

     Law 24: No Ball

Mode of Delivery  :  The Umpire shall indicate to the Striker whether the Bowler intends to bowl over or round the wicket, overarm or underarm, or right or left-handed. Failure on the part of the Bowler to indicate in advance a change in his mode of delivery is unfair and the Umpire shall call and signal "no ball". 

The Cricket rules are categorically clear -  the ball was not a dead ball because off a free hit, a batsman can get out only in four ways i.e. Handled the ball, Hit the ball twice, Obstructing the field and Run out. The three runs were thus given as three byes and Dinesh Karthik took strike with 2 runs to get off the last 2 balls. The ICC rule on the dead ball says: "20.1.1 The ball becomes dead when it is finally settled in the hands of the wicket-keeper or of the bowler. a boundary is scored.  Kohli was not out because the delivery was a free hit, the ball was not dead when the ball hit his stumps.  

3.             My friends might jump when I say this – Dinesh Karthik is highly rated as a finisher, compared with Dhoni and is playing ahead of dasher Rishab Pant – but he clearly panicked ! – 2 off 2 – should have been won very casually

4.     I have been a great fan of Ravichandran Ashwin and many wrote – how brainy he was in just allowing the ball to the keeper without attempting a stroke and getting a wide !

Ash no doubt is a very intelligent cricketer but don’t make too much of a simple act.  Every club cricketer knows that a ball drifting down the leg is a wide.  So even if he tried to flash and failed to make any contact, still it would have been a wide, irrespective of whether it passed below the bat or not !  

His lofted shot off the last ball certainly revealed his composure and took India home.. .. ..  

Clearly, categorically, the hero  who engineered and competed the chase was King Kohli .. .. .. and in doing so, Kohli has compelted 3794 runs in 110 matches / 102 innings – second being Rohit Sharma 3741 in 143/135.  Statistically, Kohli has remained unbeaten 18 times in chase and have been on the winning side in all these !!    Kohli has scored 1621 runs in 36 successful T20I chases with 16 half-centuries.   

Before concluding,  India has thus far played 12 T20Is against Pakistan and have won 8 – lost 3 and 1 tied.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar


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