India beat South Africa in thriller to win 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 title by fighting back to beat South Africa in a thrilling T20 World Cup final.

The Proteas needed 26 from 24 balls in pursuit of 177, but the wicket of Heinrich Klaasen for 52 from 27 swung a dramatic game in India’s favour.

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

David Miller was sensationally caught by Suryakumar Yadav at long-off for 21 from the first ball before India closed out a seven-run win.

It sparked jubilant scenes among the India players and fans in Barbados, including superstar Virat Kohli, who dragged his side to 176-7 with 76 off 59.

It is India's second T20 title, having won the inaugural tournament in 2007, and first World Cup win in either format since the 2011 50-over competition.

For South Africa, it was a horrible defeat that brought back all the pain of World Cups past.

India's wait is over

In the end Hardik was in tears.

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

The game looked done during Klaasen’s onslaught but Hardik removed him by finding a thin edge through to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant.

Even as Klaasen slumped off, South Africa remained favourites.

They have done so much to banish the cruel reputation of choking that follows their cricket team around.

In the end, up against some superb bowling from Jasprit Bumrah, who took 2-18 in a high-scoring game, they faltered again at the last.

In the final moments, Kagiso Rabada edged a four and Hardik bowled a wide, leaving eight needed from the last two balls before Radaba was caught at long-off.

India have so much in their favour – a team of superstars chosen from population of 1.4 billion and the largest proportion of the revenue generated in the game.

As they celebrated, none of that mattered. It was an occasion of pure sporting drama and relief.

South Africa come so close

The Proteas, like India, had progressed to this point unbeaten. They had come through a series of tight games and their semi-final win against Afghanistan was their first victory in the last four of a World Cup in eight attempts.

They slipped to 12-2 early on, Reeza Hendricks sensationally bowled by Bumrah, but fought back to set up a grand stand finale.

Quinton de Kock and Tristan Stubbs struck 39 and 31 respectively, taking down India’s vaunted spinners. That assault was ramped up further by Klaasen, who struck five sixes.

After Klaasen fell, number seven Marco Jansen struggled and was bowled by Bumrah in the 18th over.

India captain Rohit Sharma gambled by using Bumrah’s final over when there were still two to follow. He will have been grateful to 25-year-old left-armer Arshdeep, whose mix of pace in the 19th was superb.

In the closing moments India were just more clinical, no more so than Suryakumar when he juggled the ball on the long-off boundary while keeping his feet in play to dismiss Miller.

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

Kohli rises to occasion

India’s innings was built around Kohli, who had only made two double-figure scores in the tournament.

Here he notched his third within five balls by driving and flicking Jansen for three fours in the first over.

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

Rishabh Pant chipped up a full toss for a duck 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, promoted to provide a left-handed option, instead provided the attack with 47, including two fine hits over long-on, in a partnership of 72.

Shivam Dube added impetus with his 16-ball 27 as Kohli’s next support act.

In the 18th over, Kohli cut loose, striking Rabada superbly over long-on, pulling the next ball for four and in the 19th he whipped Jansen on to the roof of the pavilion.

The 50-over World Cup, where Kohli was the tournament’s leading scorer, was supposed to be the white-ball great’s crowning glory.

In the end, it came on the other side of the world eight months later, with Kohli confirming this was his final T20 World Cup appearance.

'A special feeling' - reaction

Player of the match, India batter Virat Kohli: "I am so proud to get the runs for the team on the day it mattered most. We have wanted to lift a trophy for a long time.

"It's an amazing day, I am so thankful."

South Africa captain Aiden Markram: "Gutted. We've had a great campaign but this hurts.

"South African people are competitive, but they are respectful. We pride ourselves on that. Hopefully moving forward we can learn from this and use it.

"This will always be a proud day for us, regardless."

India captain Rohit Sharma: "I am so proud of all of my boys and the management for giving us the liberty and trusting in each one of us."

Player of the tournament, India bowler Jasprit Bumrah: "I am someone who tries to keep my emotions in check but the emotions are taking over right now. This is such a special feeling."