Kohli leads India to 6-wicket win vs South Africa
MIRPUR, Bangladesh (AP) — Virat Kohli showed why he is counted among the best contemporary batsmen as he slammed an unbeaten 72 to guide India to a six-wicket win over South Africa in the World Twenty20 semifinals on Friday.
Kohli smashed five fours and two sixes during his 44-ball knock as India scored 176-4 in 19.1 overs in reply to South Africa’s 172-4 to set up the title clash with sub-continental rival Sri Lanka.
Kohli continued the fine form that had seen him top the group-stage batting tables with an aggregate of 170 runs, as he took control of what had looked like a stiff chase, especially considering the South African bowling that included feared pace bowler Dale Steyn and legspinner Imran Tahir.
Kolhi traded in singles and twos when the boundaries were not coming and ensured the asking rate was always manageable. With left-hander Suresh Raina chipping in with a brisk 21 off 10 deliveries, the chase came well under control in the end overs.
“Today was one of those days when I had to keep my cool against a world-class attack with the boundaries not coming,” Kohli said. “In Twenty20, I look at the target in number of runs and overs to go, not runs and balls to go because that makes it look easier.”
Kohli, who reached his seventh T20 international half-century with a six to Tahir over the mid-wicket fence, finished off the game with a four to mid-wicket off Steyn in the company of new batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
“There was a sense of calm in the dressing room when we went out to bat,” Dhoni said. “Everybody saw that the wicket was better than those we have played on, and we believed we could chase this down.”
The Indian chase was smooth also because of some useful knocks from Raina and others.
Openers Ajinkya Rahane (32) and Rohit Sharma (24) were out when they looked good for bigger knocks but India was well placed in the 10th over at 77-2.
Yuvraj Singh (18) also fell after settling well but he helped add a crucial 56 for the third wicket with Kohli as the pair ran very well between the wickets to keep the pressure on the South Africans.
“I thought we batted excellently,” captain Faf du Plessis said after South Africa once again failed to pull it off at a big game in an ICC world event. “It was a very good score against a good attack on this wicket but they know how to chase and Virat played a great innings.”
Earlier, electing to bat, du Plessis set the base for a big South Africa score and left-hander JP Duminy completed the job with some quick hitting toward the end.
Du Plessis scored 58 and Duminy 45 not out as South Africa paced its innings well against the 2007 champions.
Coming in at No. 3, du Plessis stroked freely to smash five fours and two sixes off 41 balls during his fifth half-century in T20 internationals.
Du Plessis, who returned to the side after missing the last game against England because of a suspension over the team’s slow over-rates, was quick to punish anything loose and played some fine shots in the mid-wicket and square-leg regions.
Duminy, who has been in fine form and came into this match with 142 runs in four league games, started cautiously but opened up later to hit one four and three sixes off 40 balls.
For India, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was the pick of the bowlers with 3-22 as he dismissed Hashim Amla (22), du Plessis and AB de Villiers (10).