Virat Kohli seemed completely sure his unbeaten 53-ball 82 against Pakistan on Sunday in the 2022 T20 World Cup match at the MCG was the best T20 innings of his career “because of the magnitude of the game and what the situation was,” even though he might have been “lost for words” by the end of it.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man

From 31 for 4, when India was in threat of failing, Kohli and Hardik Pandya led a valiant comeback with a 113-run stand for the fifth wicket. Kohli remained in the spotlight throughout the final over, which featured two wickets, a no-ball for height, a wide, a six (from Kohli, of course), and discussions between the Pakistani players and the umpires before R Ashwin scored the winning run off the final ball.

Also read: Top India vs Pakistan T20 World Cup contests

After the openers left the game early, Kohli took his time to polish his effort. In the final overs, the 33-year-old went off to help India win. The legend delivered a masterful knock in every way.

The game ebbed and flowed countless times, but India deservedly prevailed in an exciting conclusion thanks to Virat Kohli’s domineering performance and his partnership with Hardik Pandya.

Kohli’s performance in this match will go down in history as one of the finest innings by an Indian cricketer. He shone bright like the North star, guiding the chase when his team needed him the most.

The implication was that India was playing a team they had lost to in the 2017 World Cup opener. The fact that India was down to 31 for 4 in the seventh over and Kohli had fought his way to 12 off 21 balls by the halfway point made the scenario even more critical.

Also read: Sea of emotions at India vs Pakistan T20 WC fixture: Teary Hardik, Virat, a jolly Gavaskar, and more

Kohli assumed position with the intention of scoring 12 off the following two when 28 runs were needed off of 8 balls. The first six of those 12 runs were generated by a shot that is currently a strong candidate for the shot of the tournament.

“It’s just instinctively I saw it, told myself to stay still. The [first] one at long-off was unexpected, it was a back-of-a-length slower ball. And the next one, I just swung my bat through the line of the ball and it flew over fine leg. Now standing here, I just feel like it was meant to be. It’s a very, very special moment,” Kohli said after the match.

Nawaz had to defend 16 in the last over, in which Kohli scored one more six after the two sixes off Rauf. Nawaz attempted to win the match one last time by eliminating Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya, but with one ball remaining, R Ashwin stroked the ball over the crowded infield to seal an incredible victory.

Also read: Happy Diwali. King Kohli lights up Pakistan with fiery knock

Numbers don’t lie 

After the match, fans and critics started calling Kohli the GOAT- greatest of all time. The claim can be defended on empirical grounds supported by statistics. As emotionally and tactically invigorating as his performance was, it may not be enough to convince some cynics. Following are some cold, dry facts about Kohli and his performance and why he deserves the title of GOAT.

In his MCG knock, Kohli smashed four sixes and six fours, and throughout, he set numerous records. 

Also read: Rohit Sharma lifts Virat Kohli, India celebrate 4 wicket win over Pakistan: Watch

He is now the highest run scorer in T20 international matches. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli were shoulder-to-shoulder on the list of all-time run scorers in the shortest format, but Kohli has once again overtaken Sharma. With 110 games under his belt, Kohli has now amassed 3794 runs at a staggering average of 51.97 and a strike rate of 138.41.

The most of any male player in T20Is, he now has 14 Player of the Match honours. He overcomes Mohammad Nabi, the Afghanistan captain’s 13.

He has received player of the match honours six times in the T20 World Cup, which is unprecedented for a male player.

Kohli has scored 927 runs in T20 World Cups, topping Rohit Sharma’s 851 runs to become the highest-scoring Indian player in the competition.

Also read: T20 World Cup 2022: Where Pakistan lost the game and India gained momentum

The best batting average against an opponent in the T20I format with at least 10 innings played is held by Virat Kohli – 81.33 against Pakistan.

It was Kohli’s fifth half-century against Pakistan, four of which came during the T20 World Cups. This equals Chris Gayle’s tally for the most fifty-plus scores against opposition in a T20 World Cup match. Gayle, who played for the West Indies, has four fifty-plus scores all through the tournament’s history versus Australia.

In T20I chases, Kohli has gone unbeaten 18 times, and India has won each of those games.

Together with Shoaib Malik, Kohli has the joint-most men’s T20I successful chases with 18 not-outs. In 36 successful T20I chases, Kohli has 1621 runs, including 11 undefeated half-centuries, and 16 half-centuries.

At the T20 World Cup, Kohli’s average in successful run chases is 518. In the competition’s nine successful run chases, he has seven fifties and just one dismissal. With a minimum of ten times batted, he averages 270.50 throughout all chases in the T20 World Cup, more than six times higher than the second-best Kumar Sangakkara’s 40.28.

Also read: Anushka Sharma in heartfelt social media post after Virat Kohli’s 53-ball 82 vs Pakistan, ‘You beauty’

Form is temporary, class is forever

Critics have been slamming Virat Kohli for not being in form for more than two years. Also, there were rumours that he would be removed from the squad as a result of his lackluster performance. But the selectors chose to retain him.

The MCG echoed with chants of “Kohli Kohli” as the former skipper guided India to victory from an almost impossible position. As he ensured he was available for one of the most exciting finishes in T20I cricket history, he was unable to contain his emotions.

A teary-eyed Kohli was lifted by captain Rohit Sharma and huddled in an appreciative embrace by other teammates.

Also read: Virat Kohli thanks fans for support through rough patch after 82 vs Pakistan, MCG cheers: Watch

Following the game on Sunday, Kohli praised the 90,000+ MCG crowd for their “phenomenal” support. “You guys have supported me, shown me so much love and support for all these months that I was kind of struggling, you guys kept backing me. And I am very grateful for your support. Thank you.”

His wife and actor Anushka Sharma later captured the sentiment and the context the best with a post on Instagram, writing, “You have brought sooooo much joy in peoples lives tonight and that too on the eve of Diwali! You are a wonderful wonderful man, my love. … our daughter is too small to understand why her mother was dancing around and screaming wildly in the room, one day she will understand that her dad played his best innings that night which followed after a phase that was tough on him but he came out of it stronger and wiser than ever before!!”

A statement difficult to argue with.