Hardik Pandya lavished praise on Virat Kohli after his unbeaten 82 inspired India to beat rivals Pakistan in a last-over finish to a T20 World Cup Super 12 match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.
Chasing 160, India needed 28 from eight balls when Kohli hit a back-foot punch over pacer Haris Rauf’s head for six and followed it up with a flick over the fine leg rope. Speaking about Kohli’s knock on the BCCI’s, Hardik said: “Those two shots - I knew how important those two shots were. Let’s be honest, even if you [looking at Kohli] had missed one, they were running ahead of us.
"I've hit a lot of sixes but those are special, special, and really special in my heart now because of what [it] meant for both of us. I've played cricket, so much cricket, but I don't think anyone could've played those two shots except Kohli.
"The best part about what I loved about him [doing that] is we struggled, bro. Why it was so special was we struggled together. This would've been not this special if we had just cruised through. You would have played exceptional shots, I would have been [in the flow]... This was special because we knew we'd struggled."
Happy to be here
Kohli’s 113-run stand off just 78 balls with Hardik Pandya, who scored 40 from 37, was pivotal to India’s fightback. Hardik also gave a sneak peek into his mindset during the innings: "I sensed a lot of pressure in the group," he said. "With all due respect, a lot of people in big games [feel pressure] and [know] how important it is. We all have worked every hard as a collective, and people are happy for each other.
"But for me, I don't know, I was very numb today [Sunday]. Even when I came on the ground, I was very happy and I was speaking to Rahul [Dravid] sir as well, I wouldn't say he was tense but he told me: 'you have done a lot of things', and 'be calm' and all that. I had to tell him: 'sir, please understand I'm happy to be here. Ten months back, I was working in my space and I had no idea and this is where I wanted to be, irrelevant of what happens. Just happy to be here, playing with all the best cricketers in the world, and they are my brothers."
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