Kohli has had his form issues, but his captain did not count him among the doubting Thomases, who called him well past his sell-by date.
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“Yeah, I think it has to go – definitely his best for sure, but I think from the situation we were in, and to come out with a win, I think it has to be one of India’s best knocks, not just his best knock,” Rohit told mediapersons after India’s T20 World Cup victory against Pakistan.
He explained why he rated this innings as India’s number 1 T20 knock.
“Because until the 13th over (needing almost 100 runs), we were so behind in the game, and the pace required just kept going up and up. But to come out and chase that score was an absolutely brilliant effort from Virat, and then of course Hardik (Pandya) also played a role there,” the skipper did not forget to praise his all-rounder.
Both Kohli and Pandya are veterans of many close T20 contests, which they have achieved under pressure at international as well as IPL level.
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“I thought both of them because these guys played so many games under pressure for us, so they knew exactly how to handle that kind of situation, and they did pretty well in that situation,” the captain said.
While most of the cricket fans questioned whether Kohli’s ability to win big matches was on the wane, Rohit was consistent that it was never the case.
“Talking about Virat, I honestly don’t think he’s struggled with form or anything. He’s batted as well as he’s been but with him the expectations are always so high that even if he gets a good 30 or 40, people are inclined to talk about it,” Rohit reiterated the need to temper expectations sometimes.
As part of the team management, Rohit never felt the need to put pressure on Kohli.
“From the team management’s perspective, I thought he was in a good space right from the Asia Cup, where he had a month off and then he came back for the Asia Cup. He was fresh, had a brilliant century there. got a couple of fifties if I’m not mistaken.
“And then before the World Cup we know what quality he has, and he has done so well in these types of conditions in all three forms.”
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All about using experience
Kohli had pulled off a similar incredible chase six years ago in Mohali during a T20 World Cup knockout match against Australia.
“Obviously he (Kohli) used his experience today more than anything else, stayed calm under pressure, and we know how good he is when the score is in front of him. He is one of the best drivers in the world.
“I thought that partnership between both these guys, the hundred-run partnership, was a game-changing moment.”
Rauf made the six of us believe we could do it
What struck Rohit was how the duo (Kohli-Pandya) planned their 113-run stand. But when Harris Rauf hit for two sixes, the captain believed that they could only win this one.
“It was probably one of the best I’ve seen in a partnership, and then Virat was obviously brilliant. Those two consecutive sixes off Haris Rauf, I wouldn’t call it the turning point, but I would definitely say; it’s true playing the game. actually came to us a little bit,” he added.
“We always knew there was one over of spin bowling. So inside the dressing room we thought if we could keep about 15 to 18 runs in the last over, the guy was going to be under pressure to bowl that last over.
“He bowled that last over against us in the Asia Cup and Hardik played a few shots against him.”
Rohit said he knew that once Mohammed Nawaz was hit for two sixes in his first over, he would not be given a ball. But as things worked out, the pacers completed their quota of overs and Babar Azam was forced to use his left-arm spinner.
“Obviously it’s not easy when you have to bowl the last over as a spinner and only have to defend 15 or 18 runs. It’s not easy.”
Pressure is a two-way street for skipper
Everyone talked about the pressure Pandya and Kohli were under while batting, but with those two in the middle, the Indian captain felt that even the Pakistani bowlers were under the pump.
“It sometimes plays both ways. The pressure is always on the bowler, I believe, in that type of situation. Yeah, I think we held our own in the last three overs. It was good to see.”