Virat Kohli sets up thrilling T20 win
Royal Challengers batsman Virat Kohli set up an exciting game, and Munaf Patel took India home as they beat Kent by 5 runs in a thrilling T20 game at the St. Lawrence Ground in Canterbury on Friday. Kohli top scored for India with 78 and Patel bowled a superb last over, giving away just 2 runs and taking a wicket when Kent required 8 to win.
Originally scheduled as a 50 over game, frequent rain interruptions through the morning led to the match being shortened to a T20. Kent skipper Martin van Jaarsveld won the toss and understandably chose to chase in the overcast conditions.
Kohli, batting at no.3, walked in in the very first over as Parthiv Patel perished being caught behind for 1. He then built two important partnerships with Rahul Dravid and Rohit Sharma; the first one a 49-run partnership and the second a 69-run one. Kohli hit 7 fours and 3 sixes even as his partners at the other end found it hard to get the ball over the boundary across the wet outfield. He kept India's run rate healthy and reached 78 before being run out, answering an attempt for a cheeky second run by Raina.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina found it hard to score against the slow spin of England bowler James Tredwell and departed soon after Kohli's dismissal, but some good old fashioned biffing from R Ashwin took India to 164/6.
Joe Denly, Kent and former England batsman, opened for Kent and almost took them to victory single-handedly. He dominated strike through his partnerships with Daniel Bell-Drummond, van Jaarsveld and Darren Stevens, and changed gears brilliantly, bringing up his 100 off 67 balls after having taken 40 to reach his first 50. He was dismissed on the very next ball by Ashwin, the only bowler he had played cautiously up against till then. His dismissal in the 19th over left Kent requiring 8 runs off the last over.
Munaf Patel handed the last over bowling duties, proceeded to turn on the screws, summoning up his variety of slow balls, pulling out of run ups and second guessing the batsman brilliantly. He managed to bring in the new man, Sam Northeast, on strike and bowled two dot balls to him. Attempting a non-run to bring the set batsman Stevens on strike, Northeast was run out on the penultimate ball of the over. Stevens was bowled off the last ball of the over as Munaf produced yet another slower ball with 6 required for a win. Kent's innings ended at 159/5.
With a 5 run win snatched from near defeat, Team India will be much more confident heading into the solitary T20 game against reigning T20 World Champions England on Wednesday at Old Trafford in Manchester.