Kohli stars as India beat SA to claim T20 World Cup title

You are currently viewing Kohli stars as India beat SA to claim T20 World Cup title
  • Post published:June 30, 2024

Virat Kohli played a starring role as India won the T20 World Cup title after claiming a seven-run victory over South Africa at the Kensington Oval on Saturday.

After declaring his retirement from T20 international cricket, Kohli stabilised the Indian innings with a brilliant 76, leading them to a commanding 176-7.

It appeared as though South Africa, playing in their first final, were going to win when Heinrich Klaasen hammered an incredible 52 from 27 balls, but they were stopped at the last moment by some excellent Indian bowling and catching.

Hardik Pandya’s 3-20 for India served as another reminder of his exceptional skill, especially in “death bowling,” as South Africa finished at 169-8.

India’s victory in the T20 World Cup marks their second championship after they won the first tournament in 2007. It also brings an end to their 11-year wait for a major title, which began with the 2013 Champions Trophy.

The victory also signalled the end of an era, with coach Rahul Dravid having already announced his departure and captain Rohit Sharma declaring it a day for the shortest format of the international game, even as the team and their massive travelling army of fans celebrated in Barbados.

With an average of just 10.7 going into the final, veteran Kohli had struggled in the tournament. However, he played his greatest innings at the ideal time, and his well-balanced batting ensured that India won the title after an undefeated tournament. It was a bittersweet departure.

“I am so proud to get the runs for the team the day it mattered most,” said Kohli.

“The occasion prompted that change for me, I felt like it was now or never. We have wanted to lift a trophy for a long time.

“I wasn’t feeling myself before today. I wasn’t confident. So I am very grateful and humble right now. It has been difficult, so there are a lot of emotions,” he added.

After Sharma won the toss and decided to bat, India had fallen to 34 for three; Kohli’s confident performance was exactly what the team needed.

The total appeared daunting for South Africa in a tournament that has seen few runs scored, but Quinton de Kock (39) and Tristan Stubbs (31) put the Proteas on their way, and in the fifteenth over, Klaasen turned the tide by smashing Axar Patel for 24 runs, including two fours and two sixes.

After a final removal of Klaasen, caught behind by Hardik Pandya, the Proteas required just 26 runs from the final 23 balls.

Rohit turned early for Jasprit Bumrah’s last over because he knew they had to grab the initiative. The skipper called for him to bowl, and he did just that, dismissing Marco Jansen and giving up only two runs in the eighteenth over.

With two overs remaining, South Africa needed to score twenty runs, and Arshdeep Singh bowled a brilliant length to give up just four.

Pandya bowled a full-toss with 16 needed to win the last over, and Miller hit it high and straight down the ground. However, Suryakumar Yadav made an incredible catch on the boundary, returning to complete the catch after he had crossed the ropes and thrown the ball back into play.

After India lost the 50 Over World Cup on home soil the previous year, Kagiso Rabada edged a four and Pandya displayed some nervousness with a wide, but the seamer maintained composure to secure silverware for the team.

For Rohit, the win was the result of his recent, intense efforts and near-misses.

“It is very hard to sum up what we have been through for three or four years. There has been a lot behind the scenes. So winning this game isn’t just about what we did today, it’s about those years, it’s all that hard work.

“We’ve played a lot of high pressure games that we’ve been on the wrong side of. We now understand what needs to be done when the pressure is on. Today is the perfect example of what we can do with our backs against the wall. It was going South Africa’s way but we wanted it so badly,” he said.

It was a cruel conclusion for South Africa, who had reached their first World Cup final after overcoming a seven-game losing record in semi-finals across both World Cup formats.

“Gutted for the time being, it’ll take some time to reflect on a really good campaign, hurts quite a bit but incredibly proud,” said captain Aiden Markram.

Photo by T20 World Cup Twitter