Miracle at Hobart thanks to a tornado named Kohli

Suresh Raina with Virat Kohli

By Kersi Meher-Homji

What can one say, a miracle down under? It was one of the best matches ever in the game’s history featuring a spectacularly marvellous knock.

I am referring to Virat Kohli’s fabulous century in the do-or-die one day international (ODI) last night in Hobart.

India had not only to win the match but win the vital bonus point as well to have a chance to make it to the Final.

It appeared Mission Impossible when Sri Lanka posted a massive 4 for 320 in 50 overs. Tillakaratne Dilshan (160 not out) and Kumar Sangakkara (105) added 200 runs for the second wicket. To get the bonus point India had to score 321 runs in 40 overs, a run-rate of little over 8.

With India’s batting form in Australia in abject disarray this season, even Napoleon would have called it impossible.

But out of form Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar smashed the Lankan bowling reaching 50 runs in 5.2 overs, a run-rate of almost 10. The platform was set up for an assault.

Gautam Gambhir (63) and Kohli added 115 runs for the third wicket off 109 balls when the former was run out.

OK, that’s it, I said to myself, another night of disappointment and heartbreak as wickets will now tumble like ninepins. Especially when Suresh Raina on a bad trot walked to the pitch.

But this was the Dr Jekyll Raina of pre-2011, not the Mr Hyde Raina of 2011-12.

He started off with a sweet four and soon a towering six.

It was match on, beware Lankans. Needing 120 runs off 75 balls for a win with a bonus point, Kohli and Raina powered on, feet on the accelerator, hand brakes and foot brakes disabled.

Bang bang went Raina, bing bang bong rattled Kohli.

It appeared surreal, almost magical, the way the two young Indian batsmen went about their run hunt, destroying the Sri Lankan bowling attack like a typhoon destroys buildings and trains. They reached the “impossible” target of 321 in only 36.4 overs.

Man of the Match Kohli smashed 133 not out off 86 balls for a strike-rate of 154.65 and Raina an unbeaten 40 off 24 deliveries at a strike rate of 166.66. The last 17 balls were smashed by the zany pair for 56 runs ”“ 6,2,6,4,4,4,4,2,3,1,1,1,dot,1,1,4,4. Amazing!

And India triumphed by 7 wickets with 80 balls in hand.

India has a chance to enter the Final if Australia beats Sri Lanka in Melbourne on Friday (2 March).

Kohli rated his career-best unbeaten 133 against Sri Lanka last night as his finest. “It has to be the best innings of my career. The kind of situation we were in, chasing 321 and also we needed the bonus point, so it was a crunch game and to play an innings like that at the right time, I felt it was a great innings,” Kohli said at the post-match press conference.

And so say all of us.
He felt this victory would boost confidence of the team after being annihilated 0-4 in the Test series by Australia.
“It is important to win like that after the sort of tour we had so far in Australia. We will take a lot of positives from this match when we will look back, it was like telling each of us that we can take a bit from this win. It shows this team can play like this at any point of time,” he said.
Added a jubiliant skipper MS Dhoni, “This was some of the best ODI cricket I have been a part of. ”

Are better days here again for Indian cricket?

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