The unforgettable India-Pakistan thriller at the MCG on Sunday night was particularly special for Isa Guha — not just for the result and bonkers atmosphere, but also for who would’ve no doubt been looking down on cricket’s colosseum with a smile.
In one of the greatest T20 World Cup games ever played, India pulled off a remarkable final-ball four-wicket win over Pakistan in front of 90,293 fans in Melbourne.
Indian superstar Virat Kohli was the hero and match-winner, finishing unbeaten on 82 off just 56 balls in a knock that featured six fours and four sixes – his best shot a stunning back-foot punch that saw the ball sail over Haris Rauf’s head and into the Shane Warne Stand for six.
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Speaking to foxsports.com.au, Guha said it was among the top three cricket match atmospheres she’s ever experienced, adding how fans “just appreciated the opportunity to see such a classic” after two Covid-interrupted years.
But the World Cup-winning all-rounder and respected broadcaster said it was fitting the first international cricket match at the MCG since Warne’s sudden passing in March was an epic he would’ve loved.
“It still doesn‘t feel quite real that it (Warne’s passing) happened,” Guha told foxsports.com.au.
“You think the last time we were at the MCG was for his memorial – and that was his arena.
“I always have him in my thoughts when I‘m watching cricket: ‘What would Warnie say? What would he do?’ He would’ve just loved to see a thriller. He would’ve enjoyed the counter-attack from Pakistan and then India able to come back, the early wickets, Virat Kohli back to his best – the game itself was a topsy-turvy one.
“There was something in the air that night that was quite magical. I just felt that he was watching.”
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It came after a subpar two years for Kohli, who struggled to reach his previous elite, lofty heights with the bat.
Guha said Kohli’s performance against Pakistan “showcased what a champion he is”.
“No one is immortal. As much as Virat Kohli is godlike in what he does, everyone has moments where they doubt themselves – and he‘s had that period now. It makes him human,” Guha said.
“Three months ago, he was talking about feeling isolated in himself. To be able to come through that and have a good Asia Cup and then come into this situation, this is what he was born to do. I think he just slipped into that mode in his mind where, literally, you have no other option but to try and find a way to win – and he did it beautifully.
“That‘s Virat Kohli at his best where it seems unthinkable to be able to win a game like that.”
Despite the dire position India found itself in – 4-31 at the start of the seventh over – Guha said she never lost faith in the team at the time.
“When India were a few wickets down and Hardik Pandya came to the middle, I just knew that it wasn‘t over because it was a good, decent pitch,” she said. “It was just a case of taking a deep breath and picking off the right bowlers, because the fifth bowler was going to pose a problem for Babar Azam.
“India attacking him (Mohammad Nawaz) in the 12th over was a significant moment in that game – and they had to do it because they had no other choice. As soon as they did that, I thought ‘it’s going to be hard to stop them now’.
“Virat Kohli, he transcends everything when it comes to sport. He‘s a global superstar – and this is why, because in these moments when your team is up against it, he’s able to find something that no one else can.”
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