India beaten, but Virat Kohli confirmed as a national hero
The hosts were bundled out of the World T20 tournament, as heroic Kohli proved that sometimes one man can't do it all
In the end, it turned out that India's cricketing hero Virat Kohli couldn't save the day single-handed. After scoring a quite brilliant 83 off 47 balls during India's World T20 semi-final against the West Indies and then taking the wicket of the dangerous Johnson Charles when he came on to bowl, Kohli was entrusted with the task of saving the match by bowling the last over with defeat looming.
With the West Indies needing only six runs to win, the Indian captain, MS Dhoni, turned to Kohli ahead of his more recognised bowlers, hoping that his Midas touch would see them over the line. But it was not to be, and when Andre Russell deposited the fourth ball of the final over into the silent Mumbai crowd for six India had been ejected from their own party.
"Kohli stood dazed, gazing at the trajectory of the ball and perhaps wondering what else he could have done," says the Times of India. "For the umpteenth time in the World Twenty20, the 27-year-old had papered over the cracks in India's top order... Kohli the bowler also resurfaced when it mattered."
But it was not enough, and the West Indies registered a stunning victory before it faces England in the final on Sunday. However, Kohli is still in the running for man of the tournament – not that it will mean much to him.
"The Delhi batsman virtually carried the team single-handedly to the semi-final of ICC World Twenty20," says ZeeTV, which notes that he had scored his third fifty in five innings in the match. He has scored a remarkable 273 runs in the tournament and been dismissed only twice.
He has also been hailed for opening up a new frontier in T20 the batting game. "If the World T20 has taught us anything, it has taught us that Virat Kohli loves running twos," writes Karthik Krishnaswamy of Cricinfo. His innings against the West Indies contained just 12 boundaries but ten doubles – more than most batsmen have managed during the entire tournament.
The big hitters of the West Indies prevailed in Mumbai but Kohli has proved that "being aware of the field and running hard is a great way to score quickly off good balls, and score quickly even if he doesn't face too many bad balls".
His innings drew plaudits from around the world:
It also cemented Kohli's status as a national hero.
"Indian cricket fans have been desperately looking for another guiding force, the 'God of cricket' after the retirement of master blaster Sachin Tendulkar," says the Jagran Post. "Their prayers seem to have been answered in the form of the swashbuckling batsman Virat Kohli, and he has not disappointed them.
"He can score runs, scalp wickets, take stunning catches and do everything which gives strength to the team... the way he plays reminds us of our 'gully' cricket days."