Virat Kohli announces T20 retirement after helping India to World Cup win

Virat Kohli helped India secure the T20 World Cup with a player-of-the-match performance against South Africa, then immediately announced his retirement from the format.

Kohli, the second highest run-scorer in the history of T20 internationals behind his triumphant captain Rohit Sharma, hit 76 from 59 balls as his side edged a last-over thriller by seven runs in Barbados.

The 35-year-old, who remains the biggest star in the sport, was one of several players from both teams to shed tears at the end of a gripping contest – some in joy, others in despair.

But there was an extra layer of emotion for Kohli, who knew he was bidding farewell after 14 years and 125 appearances.

“This was a now-or-never situation. This is my last T20 game playing for India, my last World Cup, so I wanted to make the most of it,” he said.

“This was an open secret, it’s not something I wasn’t going to announce if we had lost. It’s time for the next generation to take the T20 game forward.

“It’s been a long wait for us, waiting to win an ICC tournament. We wanted to win that cup. It’s been difficult to hold things back and I think it’s going to sink in later. It’s been an amazing day and I’m thankful.”

Virat Kohli celebrates after India's win is confirmed
Virat Kohli celebrates after India’s win is confirmed (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)

Kohli, who was seen making a video call to his wife, Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma, on the outfield as he took in his side’s victory, saved his best performance of the tournament for the biggest stage.

He had struggled to make an impression throughout the competition, averaging just 10 with a pedestrian strike-rate of a run-a-ball.

Having scored just 75 runs in his previous seven innings, he more than doubled his tournament tally in 59 deliveries at the Kensington Oval as he anchored the innings and led his side to a winning total of 176 for seven.

For an India side who have finished as runners-up five times in ICC finals in the past decade, spanning all three formats, this was a moment of catharsis.

“It’s hard to sum up what we’ve been through… a lot of high-pressure games that we’ve been on the wrong side of,” said winning captain Sharma.

“Guys understand when the pressure is on what needs to be done and today was a perfect example. We stuck together with our backs to the wall. We wanted this really badly.”

Sharma failed to leave his own mark on the final, dismissed for just nine, but was thankful for Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah, who took two for 18 and changed the game at the death.

“Come the occasion, big players stand up. No one was in doubt about Virat, he’s been on top of his game for the last 15 years. Jasprit? I don’t know how he does it. It’s just a masterclass. Class act.”

South Africa captain Aiden Markram in the field in the T20 World Cup final in Barbados
South Africa were playing in their first World Cup final in Barbados (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)

Proteas skipper Aiden Markram, whose side were chasing a first ever World Cup win and failed to get over the line despite needing only 30 runs from the last 30 balls.

“It’s gut-wrenching… the way this game went only adds to the emotions,” he said.

“I’d like to think we’re one step closer to getting that first win. It hurts quite a bit but I’m incredibly proud. South Africans are competitive, respectful and will go down with a fight. This is still a proud moment for us.”