Feb 28, 2012. A packed Hobart stadium, filled with Sri Lankan fans, ready to see their team go through to the finals of the CB Series. Indian fans were few because they didn’t want to witness another heart-wrenching defeat for their favorite players. Dilshan, Sangakkara, Jayawardene, Malinga, Sehwag, Sachin, Gambhir, Dhoni – match full of superstars. Who knew that the world would be taken apart by a new star rising on the horizon? A must-win match for the Indians to keep their hopes -of reaching the finals of the CB Tri-Series alive. Lose and they were out. Win and hope to reach the finals.
“This looks a 240-250 wicket. Might not get too many runs on this wicket. Seamers might get some help.” – Dhoni during toss
Well even “Captain cool” couldn’t predict the wicket correctly that day. The match started. Sri Lankans batting first. The bowlers get the Lankan captain, Jayawardene early, but became helpless once Dilshan and Sangakkara got going. Even the most senior of players couldn’t find the solution to their rampage. Shot after shot. Boundary after boundary. The duo kept going. As expected, the Lankans reach 320 in their quota of 50 overs. All hope dead for the Indian fans, as their players weren’t known to chase such hefty targets. This target had to be achieved in less than 40 overs for the Indians to be able to move ahead in the series due to low net-run-rate. All hope dead for the Indian fans, as their players weren’t known to chase such hefty targets. But little did they know, the trendsetter for Indian’s chasing, was preparing himself in the dressing room.
Sehwag and Sachin come out to bat. A fiery start expected from them and so they deliver. Sehwag falls after giving India the much-needed start. India 52 after 6 overs. Ready to be in the chase. Soon after, the God of Cricket – Sachin, also departs making way for the 24-year old to take his place at the pitch. With Gambhir on the other side, the stage was set for this young guy from Delhi to mark his name in the history books. And so it began.
” I just thought about reaching the finals. All other thoughts were pushed out of my brain. After this win, Team India would get free of those clouded thoughts. You will now see more expressing form of cricket from the Indian team.”
A nice little flick of the pads, towards mid-wicket to get his first boundary. The man looked determined. Over after over the pair went on scoring. Kohli soon raises a powerful half-century off just 44 balls, fueled with classy boundaries and calculatedly fast running. India soon lose Gambhir in the 20th over after a hundred plus stand at the crease. India stand at 201-3 after 27 overs, requiring 121 off just under 13 overs. An easy task, considering the rate they were going at. But Sri Lanka still had their trickiest bowler- Lasith Malinga.
35th over. Lasith Malinga with the ball.
First Ball. On middle stump. He flicks it towards mid-wicket for a double and raises his hundred. A well-deserved one.
Second Ball. On the pads, and flicked over mid-wicket, again, for a massive six. Oh!! No one would’ve dared hit the Slinger with such ruthlessness, but this kid was something different.
Third Ball. Outside off stump. An extensive cover drive. Almost looked like being hit out of frustration. Reaches the cover boundary in no time.
Fourth Ball. Another flick from the batsman. Another boundary. This guy doesn’t seem to care who’s the bowler. He just has to get his team to win this match.
Fifth Ball. One more flick. One more four.
Sixth Ball. He plays the flicks for the fifth time in the over, and the result – another boundary.
This man looks unstoppable. Yorker after Yorker just flicked towards the boundary ropes. The strength of those wrists spoke highly of his training and talent. India wins in just overs. With 80 balls to spare in the match, India win by 7 wickets.
This match witnessed the rise of something beautiful. Something strong. Something, the world tried so hard to knock down, but it stood in its place. With this innings from Virat Kohli, India knew they have found the hope. More than that they had a found a leader who could be trusted to take the sport forward after the current legends of the game retired.