India triumphed amid crazy late drama, needing 13 runs off three balls, before Kohli hit a Mohammed Nawaz waist-high no-ball for six to flip the equation in their favour.
Kohli was also clean bowled on the resulting free hit yet India ran three, before Dinesh Karthik was stumped next ball, leaving new batsman Ravichandran Ashwin needing two from one ball.
Nawaz inexplicably bowled a left-side bye before Ashwin hit a match-winning single over mid-off.
But India would never have been in that position if not for Kohli, scoring 82no from 53 balls after they had slumped to 4-31 in the seventh over chasing 160 for victory.
“Well, it’s a surreal atmosphere,” Kohli said. “I honestly have no words. I have no idea how that happened.
“Until today I said Mohali was my best T20 innings. Then I got 82 off 52, today I got 82 off 53. Both are just as special.
“All these months when I was struggling, you guys (the crowd) kept me going. Thank you so much.”
Kohli combined with Hardik Pandya for a game-changing partnership worth 113 runs from 90 deliveries, before the latter fell for 40 to Nawaz with the first ball of that dramatic final over.
“Hardik kept telling me, just believe we can stay till the end,” Kohli said. “I’m lost for words. Well, I think when Shaheen bowled from the Pavilion end, I told Hardik we have to take him down. The calculation was simple.
“Nawaz had one over to bowl, so if I could take Haris down, they would panic. It came down to 16 off six. I’m kind of lost for words.”