It’s the quietest reception that Kohli has ever received.
“Kohli, Kohli, Ko…” chants a fan who finally mustered up the courage to [unsuccessfully] inspire a chant.
Nobody joins in. They can’t even hear the hopeful fan.
All they’re thinking is “What the f**k just happened?”
Rohit Sharma’s wicket did not belong to Matt Henry. Rohit v Trent Boult was the match up we kept hearing about in the build-up to the game.
Play out Boult. If it spins, play out Santner. Attack the rest.
The first over was negotiated with minimal fuss. The ball angled away. It was let go. The ball came in. It was blunted down the ground.
2 pairs of watchful eyes and a pair of bats, anxious to make contact with the ball had denied the Kiwi’s a wicket in the first over.
2 cheeky singles in the bank. Crisis averted for now. Not bad.
Then came the knockout blow. It angled in, seamed away, and drew The Hitman’s edge.
Latham gobbled it up.
The scrappy, unheralded middleweight – the one we forgot about – had just sucker-punched an entire nation.
Rohit gone. 99 short of another century.
Matt Henry – hands still red from all the high fives he received – greets Kohli with a repeat of the peach that did for his deputy.
But Kohli edges it down and well short of slip. Was it a false shot? Was it deliberate?
There’s no time.
Henry rushes in for ball number 2. This one’s wider, draws an edge that isn’t played downwards, and goes wide of the slip cordon for a single.
What about this time? Was this a false shot? Was it deliberate?
Only Kohli knows the answer.
The over ends with applause from the hundreds of Kiwi Supporters, who for the first time in the morning have out-cheered their Indian counterparts.
The underdogs have drawn first blood and they want more.
A new over. Boult steams into Kohli for the first time.
It angles away.
Kohli goes for his signature drive but doesn’t connect.
It’s that 5th stump line. AGAIN!!!
Kohli is 1 off 3. He adjusts his approach for the 4th ball of his innings. It’s similar to the last one but slightly closer to his body and not as full.
He plays it out towards point and starts off for a single in customary fashion.
There’s no single. He’s back comfortably but will continue to face the fire.
Ball number 5. Bread and Butter. It’s on Kohli’s pads. He should whip it away.
But the silken touch, the malleable wrists are conspicuous by their absence. He checks his shot, the ball lobs up only to fall well short of the prowlers stationed within the circle.
The supporters are starting to adjust their expectations. Perhaps Kohli is too. 240 has gone from challenging to tough. The leader of the world’s top-ranked ODI side desperately wants a century, but it may not happen today.
70 or 80 may be enough.
Trent Boult rushes in for ball Number 6. It looks a lot like Ball Number 5, but it’s not.
It’s straighter and threatens to angle away. Kohli moves outside off.
But it doesn’t continue on its angle.
11 men appeal; the loudest appeal of their careers. Umpire Richard Illingworth’s finger begins to rise, and before he can raise it above his head, Boult is punching the air!
Kohli walks down to Rahul. God only knows why. He has to review it.
And he goes for it. It looks like a wasted review. But who cares? It’s Kohli. It’s India. It’s the game. It’s a spot in the finals. It’s redemption for 2015. It’s a chance to repeat the glory of 2011.
It’s not over. We move closer to our TV screens. Every member of the crowd is squinting at the sorry excuse of a big screen at Old Trafford.
It might be a no-ball. It might be touch and go. Remember, the line belongs to the umpire.
Boult, in slow motion, strides in. His back foot lands well behind the stumps.
Fingers are crossed for a large stride. It doesn’t happen.
It’s a legal ball.
There’s still hope. Where does it pitch? It looks straight.
But, you never know!
What about bat? He could have edged it.
You never know!
“Thank you. Doesn’t look like any bat there.” Damn it, Rod Tucker!
Okay. There’s still hope.
Ball-tracking. It can be hard to pick up small edges. It’s happened before.
No spike! No bat!
It’s out, isn’t it?
Come on, ball tracking. Please. Please. Please.
Pitching in line. Umpire’s call. Review Retained? Who cares?
No century. No 70 or 80. Kohli has to go.
DRS has spoken…
Many of India’s supporters are stunned. For many others, their minds act like monkeys, jumping from one branch of thought to the next.
Is this the game? Who’s going to score the runs now? How did this happen? DRS is hogwash. Why did Kohli walk across his stumps? I miss Dhawan. What if he never got injured? We have to win. But how? Pant is an IPL beast! But this is international cricket, a semi-final, not the IPL.
The tremendously talented Rishabh Pant strides out to the middle. The loudspeaker is blaring ‘Highway to Hell.’
…It sure feels like it.