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India beat South Africa in a thriller to win the T20 title

T20 World Cup Final, Barbados

India 176-7 (20 overs): Kohli 76 (59), Axar 47 (31); Maharaj 2:23, Nortje 2:26

South Africa 169-8 (20 overs): Klaasen 52 (27); Hardik 3:20

India won by seven runs


India ended their 13-year wait for a World Cup title with a comeback, defeating South Africa in a thrilling T20 World Cup final.

The Proteas needed 26 off 24 balls to reach 177, but the wicket of Heinrich Klaasen for 52 off 27 turned a dramatic game in India’s favour.

Arshdeep Singh conceded only four in the penultimate over, leaving Hardik Pandya to defend 16 in the last over.

David Miller was sensationally caught by Suryakumar Yadav at long-off for 21 from the first ball before India completed a victory by seven points.

It sparked jubilation among Indian players and fans in Barbados, including superstar Virat Kohli, who took his team to 176-7 with 76/59.

It is India’s second T20 title after winning the inaugural tournament in 2007, and their first World Cup victory in both formats since the 50-over competition in 2011.

It was a terrible defeat for South Africa, which brought back all the pain of past World Cups.

India’s wait is over

At the end, Hardik was in tears.

He was part of the Indian team that lost the 50-over World Cup final to Australia on home soil eight months ago, their glorious redemption in the Caribbean.

During Klaasen’s attack, the game seemed decided, but Hardik broke away from him by finding a narrow pass to wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant.

Even when Klaasen slackened, South Africa remained the favorite.

They have done so much to dispel their cricket team’s cruel reputation of failure.

In the end, they faltered again, although Jasprit Bumrah bowled excellently and scored many points in one game.

In the dying moments, Kagiso Rabada hit a narrow four and Hardik bowled a long shot, leaving eight off the last two balls before Radaba was caught at long-off.

India has so much on its side: a team of superstars selected from a population of 1.4 billion and the largest share of revenue generated by football.

None of this mattered when it came to celebrating. It was a moment of pure sporting drama and relief.

South Africa is so close

The Proteas, like India, had progressed to that point undefeated. They had survived a series of close matches and their semi-final win over Afghanistan was their first victory in the last four of a World Cup at eight attempts.

They slipped to 12-2 early on after Bumrah sensationally bowled Reeza Hendricks, but fought back to ensure a magnificent finale.

Quinton de Kock and Tristan Stubbs scored 39 and 31 respectively to defeat India’s highly-touted spinners, while Klaasen further strengthened this attack by hitting five sixes.

After Klaasen was out, number seven Marco Jansen got into trouble and was bowled by Bumrah in the 18th over.

India captain Rohit Sharma took a risk by taking Bumrah’s last over with two to go. He will have been grateful to 25-year-old left-hander Arshdeep, whose mix of pace was superb in the 19th innings.

In the final minutes, India were simply more composed, especially Suryakumar, who juggled the ball at the long-off boundary but kept his feet in the game and sent Miller off.

This will hurt South Africa as much as the previous semi-final defeats, if not more.

Kohli is up to the situation

India’s innings was built around Kohli, who had only reached double figures twice in the entire tournament.

Here he scored his third goal in five balls by hitting Jansen for three fours with a drive and a flick in the first over.

India were in full swing when Rohit hit the first two balls for four in the second over, but after the captain swept spinner Keshav Maharaj to square leg, the Proteas fought back superbly.

Rishabh Pant bowled the ball for nil with a full toss and the dangerous Suryakumar Yadav was caught at fine leg, but from 34-3, Kohli was able to play the role he knows best.

He did not hit a boundary between the fourth and 18th overs. Axar Patel, who had been promoted as a left-hander, instead provided the attack with 47, including two fine hits over long-on, in a partnership of 72.

Shivam Dube provided additional momentum with his 27 points from 16 balls as Kohli’s next opening act.

In the 18th over, Kohli did not let up, hit Rabada superbly over long-on, took the next ball for four and in the 19th over he hurled Jansen onto the roof of the pavilion.

The 50-over World Cup, in which Kohli was the tournament’s top scorer, was supposed to be the crowning achievement for the great player with the white ball.

Eight months later, it finally arrived on the other side of the world and Kohli confirmed that this was his last appearance at the T20 World Cup.

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