The past decade belonged to Virat Kohli. The Delhi boy has never had a shortage of impeccable knocks in his career. The Indian skipper’s flamboyance and swagger has been catching the eye of many and the previous decade was full of multiple moments. As much as just about every century or match-winning knock of his is invaluable, very few come close to one of his knocks in Hobart against Sri Lanka. And you, dear reader, are about to learn more about it.
It was the Commonwealth Bank Series of 2012 and heading into the last game of the series before the final, India had their backs to the wall. Australia had already made it through to the final with a win over the Blues in their last game of the group stages. To harbour any hopes of staying in contention for the final, India had to beat Sri Lanka in Tasmania in the 11th game of the series.
And it wasn’t supposed to be just another win. India had to win by a considerable margin to get a bonus point. Only then would the five-point gap between India and Sri Lanka would have come down. If Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men were to bat second, they were to chase the set target down in a mere 40 overs.
From the very first glimpse, it seemed as if it was meant to be India’s day. Dhoni won the toss and sent Sri Lanka into bat.
But the Lankans were merciless in tearing the Indian bowling attack to shreds. Their intent was clear- extinguish any of India’s hopes of making it to the final. TN Dilshan and Kumar Sangakarra got a century each, helping the Lankans post a huge total of 320. Soon, the truth faced India. Chasing down a target of over 300 in 40 overs was going to be a stiff task.
And considering how the Indian batting had been in that series, it was going to be even more challenging. Not to forget the immense pressure of delivering or risking a trip back home was on their backs.
Despite being given a fine start by Virender Sehwag, India lost him and Sachin Tendulkar at 30 and 39 respectively. As the ever-reliable Gautam Gambhir came in, it was time to rebuild. But the rebuild wasn’t meant to be slow. India had to be brisk and with Kohli, they were brisk.
When Gambhir was run-out for 63, India were in with a chance. As Suresh Raina walked out to the crease, it was achievable. Kohli had done enough to take India to within 91 runs of the target with ten overs left from the 40 that they had.
The 35th over game was a definition of what Kohli is. The fearsome Lasith Malinga came back into the attack, as Mahela Jayawardena looked to pin India back. With the pressure on Kohli, he was having none of it. The then-emerging star came with multiple assaults in one over, getting 24 runs off Malinga. No one had ever seen Malinga get slaughtered before. It was a statement of intent that he wasn’t a pushover.
India sailed past 320 in just 36.4 overs- with 20 balls to go. Kohli amassed a sensational 133 off 86 balls. It was gritty, flamboyant and an innings of poise. There was aggression and the hunger to potentially do the impossible. India didn’t make it to the final of the series, but they knew one thing- Kohli will do many more miracles for them in the future.