Chokers “Chokes ” – India WINS T20 World CUP by 7 run

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India ended a 11-year wait for a global trophy, beating South Africa by seven runs to emerge the 2024 T20 World Cup champions in Bridgetown, Barbados, on Saturday.

It was India’s second T20 World Cup victory after the one in 2007, under the leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni in South Africa, and first since winning the Champions Trophy in 2013.

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Star batter Virat Kohli, an up-and-coming cricketer 17 years ago, posted his first fifty of the tournament in the final, scoring a classy 76 off 59 balls, which included six fours and two sixes, which enabled India amass 176 for 7 after electing to bat.

India’s bowlers, led by Arshdeep Singh (2/20) and Jasprit Bumrah (2/18), then worked their magic as they did throughout the tournament, restricting South Africa, who needed 26 from four overs with six wickets in hand at one stage in the chase, to 169 for 8 as Rohit Sharma’s team finished unbeaten in the tournament.

The Proteas, who were playing in their maiden World Cup final, did put up a good fight.

Heinrich Klaasen threatened to snatch victory while scoring 52 off 27 balls (2×4, 5×6), but Hardik Pandya (3/20) dismissed him to set the game up decisively for India.

A large chunk of the credit though should go to Kohli for anchoring the innings and pushing India to a fighting total.

He completed his 50 off in 48 balls, but the knock was what precisely India needed after the early dismissals of skipper Rohit Sharma (9), Rishabh Pant (0) and Suryakumar Yadav (3), which reduced India to a worrying 34 for 3.

However, Kohli had an able partner in Axar Patel (47, 31 balls, 1×4, 6×4) during the fourth-wicket alliance that produced 72 runs to ease the early nerves.

After the run-out of Axar, who took on the SA bowlers bravely, left-hander Shivam Dube (27 off 16 balls, 3×4 1×6) gave the innings a late fillip.

Earlier, Kohli was guarded in his approach while Axar was the enforcer as India recovered from early jitters.

At 34 for three, India were staring at another batting failure in a big final before Axar (47 off 31) and Kohli (76 off 59) turned the tide for them.

Axar was run-out in an unfortunate manner, completely against the run of play, which brought about an end to his 72-run partnership off 54 balls with Kohli.

Kohli did slow down considerably in the middle overs to bring up his first 50 off the tournament off 48 balls.

Rohit Sharma (9) had no hesitation in batting first at Kensington Oval on a pitch not the easiest to bat on through the competition.

Coming on from two back-to-back match-winning efforts, he departed early after collecting couple of consecutive fours off Keshav Maharaj in the second over of the game.

Maharaj responded well by having Rohit caught at square leg as the batter went for a sweep. Rohit and incoming batter Rishabh Pant both fell to the sweep shot.

The tension in the Indian camp increased when Suryakumar Yadav, who was also in good touch like Rohit, was caught at fine-leg, not getting enough from his pick-up shot off Rabada, leaving India with three down inside the powerplay.

At 45 for three in six overs, it was the slowest powerplay for India in the Caribbean leg.

Watching wickets tumble at the other end, Kohli, who hit three elegant boundaries off Marco Jansen in opening over of the final, shifted gears during the middle overs and let Axar come up with an odd boundary.

Such was the nature of Kohli’s knock that his first big hit after the powerplay, a straight six off Rabada, came in the 18th over.

Axar, on the other hand, potentially played the innings of his T20 career and negotiated the South African spinners effectively, collecting a six each from Aiden Markram, Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi.

However, the highlight of his special knock was the straight six through the line off Rabada.

Between 7-15 overs, India mustered 72 with the loss of Axar who fell to a direct hit from keeper Qunton de Kock at the non striker’s end. Kohli was pushing for a single off a rising ball from Rabada and de Kock with a clean one handed pick up, hit the bulls eye.

Shivam Dube (27 off 16), who came into the middle before the start of death overs, delivered a few timely blows to prop up the total.

Kohli also dropped anchor to smash a couple of sixes in the last five overs from which India collected 58 runs with the loss of three wickets.