Kohli stunner fuels Indian surge

Kohli stunner fuels Indian surge

Kohli stunner fuels Indian surge

Dhoni’s men beat South Africa by six wickets to set up final clash with Sri Lanka on Sunday.

That MS Dhoni even refused to take the winning run off the last ball of the penultimate over reflected the ease with which India cantered into the World T20 final.

It was a fitting gesture extended by the Indian skipper to his deputy Virat Kohli whose unbeaten 72 (44b, 5x4, 2x6) was the cornerstone of India’s six-wicket win over South Africa in the second semifinal here at the Sher-e-Bangla National stadium on Friday. India will take on Sri Lanka in the final on Sunday. 

South Africa had posted what appeared to be a handy 172 for four with skipper Francois du Plessis (58, 41b, 5x4, 2x6) and JP Duminy (45, 40b, 1x4, 3x6) doing the bulk of scoring. Given India’s batting might, the target wasn’t in the realm of impossible but chasing under lights against the likes of Dale Steyn and the in-form Imran Tahir was a tricky task. With Kohli continuing his dream run, India made light of the target replying with 176 for four in 19.1 overs. While Kohli was the main architect of India’s comprehensive win, there were important contributions from Rohit Sharma (24 off 13) and Ajinkya Rahane (32 off 30) at the top of the order. Yuvraj Singh didn’t allow the game to slip away with a 17-ball 18 while Suresh Raina (21 off 10b, 3x4, 1x6) made the biggest difference at the crucial juncture.

With 40 needed off the last four overs, any team with seven wickets in hand would have backed itself to get those runs. The only hitch was Steyn had two of those overs left to bowl. When Raina walked in at the dismissal of Yuvraj, one expected du Plessis to keep on the paceman against the left-hander. Instead Wayne Parnell bowled the 17th over, which went for 17 runs, and what was heading for a close finish, ended in a hurry.      
     India did well to dismiss the dangerous AB de Villiers early, but the contrasting innings by du Plessis and Duminy were instrumental in South Africa posting more than a competitive total. At various stages, South Africans looked like raising a total in the vicinity of 200 but R Ashwin’s strikes helped India peg back their opponents. 

India went in with an unchanged combination and Dhoni preferred to go the conventional way, bringing in pacers -- Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohit Sharma – from both ends after South Africa chose to bat first. There wasn’t much conventional about Hashim Amla’s batting though. Bhuvneshwar struck gold with the fourth ball of the opening over to send Quinton de Kock back but Amla quickly off-set the setback playing some strokes that would have made a slogger proud. Along with du Plessis, the right-hander gathered 43 runs off the first five overs, providing the desired start.The introduction of Ashwin, who cleaned up Amla with his first legal delivery, in final Power Play over slowed down things considerably.

Dhoni brought on Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina as Duminy and Duplessis struggled to pace the innings. The duo could manage only 31 between sixth and 11th overs and India would have thought they had things under their control. It was at this stage du Plessis decided to step on the gas. The right-hander punished both Raina and leg-spinner Amit Mishra to clobber 61 runs in the next five overs while Duminy came up with crucial blows in the backend of the innings. With David Miller chipping in with a 12-ball 23, South Africa plundered 106 runs in last ten overs.   

Ashwin once again came up with an impressive show but Mishra was a big let-down. The leg-spinner did manage to purchase some turn off the wicket but he wasn’t even half effective as he had been in the group matches that took the edge out of the Indian attack. But the batsmen rose to the occasion to neutralise a rare bowling failure.