World T20 2nd semi-final: Kohli leads India to finals for first time since 2007

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Kohli smashed five boundaries and two sixes during his unbeaten knock of 72

India batsman Virat Kohli hammered a match-winning half-century to lead his side to a six-wicket win over South Africa in Mirpur and to the final of the World Twenty20 for the first time since 2007.

Kohli was well supported by spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who took three wickets.

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis would have been brooding over whether he made the right choice to bat first after opening batsman Quinton de Kock was caught behind off the bowling of Bhuvneshwar Kumar for six runs.

Hashim Amla managed to score 22 runs before he was clean bowled by Ashwin.

Du Plessis and Jean Paul (JP) Duminy stabilised the innings with a 71-run partnership, during which du Plessis brought up his half-century, before he was cleaned up by Ashwin for 58 off 41 balls, which included five boundaries and two sixes.

AB de Villiers only made 10 runs before he was caught by Rohit Sharma at long leg to become Ashwin’s third victim of the match.

South Africa eventually finished on 172/4 at the end of their 20 overs thanks to Duminy’s unbeaten knock of 45, which came off 40 deliveries and included one boundary and three sixes, and David Miller’s quickfire 23.

Ashwin was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Kumar chipped in with one.

Chasing 173 to win, India got off to a decent start before Sharma was caught by du Plessis at mid-on off the bowling of Beuran Hendricks for 24.

Ajinkya Rahane managed to make 32 runs before he was caught by de Villiers at deep midwicket off the bowling of Wayne Parnell.

Kohli and Yuvraj Singh steadied the innings with a 56-run partnership, during which Kohli registered his half-century, before Singh was also caught by de Villiers, but only off the bowling of Imran Tahir for 18.

Suresh Raina smashed a vital 21 before he was caught by du Plessis at mid-off off the bowling of Hendricks.

From this point on it was all Kohli as he demolished the South African bowling attack to lead India to a six-wicket win with five balls to spare.

Kohli finished on 72 off 44 balls, which included five boundaries and two sixes.

Hendricks was the most successful bowler with two wickets, while Parnell and Tahir snapped up one wicket each.

Du Plessis thought his side had actually done extremely well to reach 172, and said: “I thought we had batted excellently. It was a very good score against a good attack on this wicket. Ash bowled really well. Credit to our batters to put up a good total. Runs on the board in the semi-final is what you ask for. The bad thing is, MS and his team know how to chase. They have done it many times. They pace their innings really well. Virat played a great innings. You have to credit him.

“I thought we could have been better with the ball, [especially with] the extras we conceded. If you have to win the World Cup, you have to get those one per-centers right. Unfortunately tonight, you can expect about five wides under pressure, but nine is too much. An up-and-down campaign for us. Our guys fought brilliantly, but India deserve to be in the final.”

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was ecstatic to be heading to the final once again, and said: “There was a sense of calm in the dressing room when we went out to bat. Most of the thoughts were positive. Everybody saw that the wicket was better than those we have played on and they believed they could chase this down. It is not just the self-belief, but the belief in each other that is crucial.

“There are not many who are as consistent as Virat. It is great to have him at No. 3. He grabs his opportunities. Something everyone needs to learn from him. Ashwin was brilliant. We kept him back for AB. We didn’t want to give him pace. The least I could offer Virat was the winning shot so I played out the last ball of the 19th over without a run.”

Kohli was named Man of the Match, and said: “Today was one of those days when I had to keep my cool. Against a world-class attack, with boundaries not coming. In Twenty20, I look at the number of runs and [at the] overs to go, not runs and balls to go. Overs make it look easier. I had to keep telling myself that I could make up later. I told Raina let’s try to finish in the 19th over. We don’t want to give Dale eight runs to defend in the final over. He can bowl six good yorkers. I wasn’t feeling too good before this game, had some body weakness, so it is good to go out and let it all out (with that celebration).”

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