Never in the past had India lost a semifinal match under M S Dhoni and South Africa had never lost a T20 international after posting a total in excess of 170.
One of those records was going to be broken after the Proteas, who chose to bat first, ran up a total of 172 for four in the second World T20 semifinal here at the Sher-e-Bangla National stadium on Friday.
And South Africa would have thought it was their best chance to break the knockout jinx. Much to their disappointment, they ran into a run-machine called Virat Kohli who orchestrated another successful chase to steer India to 176 for four with five balls to spare. India now take on Sri Lanka in Sunday’s final.
It was around the right-hander’s classy 72 n.o. (44b, 5x4, 2x6), which came under no inconsiderable pressure, that India constructed their calculated chase. Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane provided a solid start as India sped to 56 in the Power Play.
Yuvraj Singh (18 off 17) did not look too convincing but he hung around for a 56-run partnership with Kohli for Suresh Raina (23,10b, 3x4, 1x6) to come and help finish the job.
Though India appeared on course for a close victory, Raina’s blitz against Wayne Parnell in the 17th over turned the contest into a lopsided one. So much so that skipper Dhoni could even afford to play a dot ball to make sure that man of the match Kohli applied the finishing touches.
“Yes, he gave me a chance,” Kohli said later when asked if Dhoni let him score the winning runs. “I had told him (Dhoni) ‘you finish it off’, but he told me ‘I have nothing to give you for now but you have played so well, this is my gift (to let score winning runs) for you.’ And I said ‘that’s very kind of you’ and accepted it.”