T20 World Cup: Rohit & Co. smash the jinx, crown finds its new prince

Bridgetown (Barbados): South Africa needed 30 runs off 30 balls to win the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup. But Hardik Pandya’s 3-20 and Jasprit Bumrah’s 2-18 helped an unbeaten India to come back and clinch their second title in the shortest format with a seven-run win at the Kensington Oval on Saturday. Talismanic batter Virat Kohli stepped up to end his lean run with a 59-ball 76 to help India post a competitive 176/7, the highest total in a Men’s T20 World Cup final. His 72-run stand for the fourth wicket with Axar Patel, who made 47 off 31 balls, and a 57-run partnership with Shivam Dube, who hit a 16-ball 27, helped India go past 175-run mark, as they got 42 runs off the last three overs. In reply, South Africa were very much in sight to chase down the total. But Hardik taking out Heinrich Klaasen propelled India to come back into the match and emerge victorious to end a long 11-year global trophy drought as they restricted South Africa to 169/8. India now join West Indies and England as two-time winners of the Men’s T20 World Cup, and give a winning farewell to head coach Rahul Dravid. With the ultimate glory achieved, it made way for emotional scenes – hugs, handshakes and tears welling up in the Indian camp, with ‘chak de india’ and ‘lehra do’ blaring from the loudspeakers. It also meant Virat Kohli signed off from playing T20Is for India on a high with the World Cup trophy and the Player of the Match award in the final. When it mattered the most for India, Kohli stood up to be the hero of India’s innings with his crucial knock laced with six fours and two sixes. Kohli got India going with three boundaries – drive through point, whip through square leg, and straight drive – on overpitched deliveries from Marco Jansen, as 15 runs came off the opening over. Rohit Sharma got going with a cut and reverse-sweep fetching him consecutive deliveries off Keshav Maharaj. But Maharaj bounced back as he had Rohit sweeping aerially to square leg to fall for nine, followed by dismissing Rishabh Pant for a two-ball duck when the top-edge on his sweep off a full and wide ball ballooned off the toe-end to keeper Quinton de Kock. Kagiso Rabada struck in the fifth over when Suryakumar Yadav moved across to whip a back-of-a-length ball, but fine leg advanced to his left and took a spectacular catch to fall for just three, as India were reduced to 34/3 in 4.3 overs. With Kohli taking up the busy strike rotation role in rebuilding India’s innings, pinch-hitter Axar took up attacking mantle by clipping Rabada for four, clearing deep mid-wicket to get a six off Markram, slog-sweeping Maharaj for a maximum over the same region and hitting a flat six down on one knee to just clear long-on for a six off Tabraiz Shamsi. Axar brought up India’s hundred in 13.1 overs by hammering Rabada for a six down the ground. But a ball and wide later, South Africa produced a moment of magic when Kohli missed a delivery and the ball went behind to de Kock, who ran-out Axar, who turned back and ran slowly, with a direct hit and send him back for 47. With Kohli still finding fielders and not getting timing to hit boundaries, Dube got in to loft Jansen for six and then slog-sweep Shamsi for four more. After Kohli got his first fifty of the tournament in 48 balls with a single off Nortje, Dube ended the 17th over with a slice past backward point for four. Kohli got his first six of the competition by slogging Rabada over long-on for six and then pulled the pacer for four more, as 16 runs came off 18th over. Kohli clipped and slogged Jansen for four and six respectively, before the pacer dragged his length back and had the batter holing out to long-on. Hardik Pandya came in and top-edged a pull off Jansen over keeper’s head for four, as 17 runs came off the 19th over. Dube struck Nortje down the ground past a diving mid-on for four, before the pacer bounced back by taking out him and Ravindra Jadeja on the last three balls of the innings to take India to a competitive total. Player of the Tournament Bumrah gave India the perfect start to their defence of 177 by castling Reeza Hendricks with an outswinger in the second over. Arshdeep Singh struck in the next over as Aiden Markram chased a wide wobble-seam delivery and Pant dived to his right to complete the catch. Quinton de Kock guided Bumrah in the gap between slip and short third man for four, before he and Tristan Stubbs took a boundary each off Axar Patel in the fifth over. De Kock ended the power-play with a four cut off Kuldeep Yadav as South Africa made 42/2 in the six-over phase. Stubbs nailed his slog-sweep off Axar for four, before smashing an off-drive off Kuldeep for picking another boundary. De Kock brought up the half-century of his partnership with a booming slog-sweep off Kuldeep sailing over the solar-panelled stadium roof for six. Stubbs stayed low to sweep a short ball from Axar for four, before moving across to sweep again off the spinner. But he missed the delivery and was bowled around his legs to be out for 31 as India broke the 58-run third-wicket stand in the ninth over. Heinrich Klaasen began by slapping a short and wide ball from Hardik Pandya for six, before going on backfoot to club Ravindra Jadeja down the ground for another maximum. The shot of the innings came from Klaasen when he stood still and deep in the crease to loft Kuldeep over extra cover for six. De Kock welcomed Arshdeep with a flicked four, but an attempt to pull resulted in the batter giving a catch to fine leg in the 13th over. Miller got into the act by cutting Kuldeep through four and rocking back at the crease to pull over mid-wicket for six. Klaasen again stayed deep in the crease to whack Axar down the ground for four and followed it up with muscling consecutive leg-side sixes, before bringing out lofted drive over extra cover for another boundary as 24 runs came off the 15th over. Klaasen got his fifty in 23 balls, but the turning point of the match came when he nicked behind to Pant while chasing a wide delivery from Pandya to fall for 52 off 27 deliveries. With pressure building in, Bumrah came to castle Jansen through the gate to end his day with 2-18. After Arshdeep gave away four runs in the 19th over, the equation came down to 16 needed off the last over. Miller went for a loft off Hardik, but it came off the toe-end and Suryakumar, at long-off, ran to lob the ball in the air and came back on the field to take the catch and have him out for 17-ball 21. Hardik had Rabada holing out in the deep as India held their nerve to win the title and spark jubilant plus emotional scenes in Barbados and at home. Brief Scores: India 176/7 (Virat Kohli 76, Axar Patel 47; Keshav Maharaj 2-23, Anrich Nortje 2-26) beat South Africa 169/8 (Heinrich Klaasen 52, Quinton de Kock 39; Hardik Pandya 3-20, Jasprit Bumrah 2-18) by seven runs

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