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Kohli retires from T20I: 'It was now or never, grateful to get job done for team'

Kohli's 76 off 59 balls against South Africa was his last innings in a T20I for India, and it did not go in vain. He did not have to think twice to pass the baton to the next-gen players to take the team into the future.
Last Updated : 29 June 2024, 18:30 IST

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Bridgetown (Barbados): Virat Kohli, one of the greats of the game, walked into T20I sunset after reeling out a classy innings that led India to their second T20 World Cup title, saying that it's time for the next generation to take over.

Kohli's 76 off 59 balls against South Africa was his last innings in a T20I for India, and it did not go in vain. He did not have to think twice to pass the baton to the next-gen players to take the team into the future.

"This was my last T20 World Cup and this is exactly what we wanted to achieve. This is an amazing game. I was telling Rohit (Sharma) when we went out to bat, I was like, one day you feel like you can't get a run and then you come out and then things happen. God is great,” Kohli told host broadcasters after bagging the player of the match award.

"I bow my head in gratitude. I'm just really grateful I was able to get the job done for the team on the day that it mattered the most," he added.

The veteran batter hoped that the next generation players will take India to even loftier peaks.

"It's time for the next generation to take over. It's a two-year cycle (for next T20 WC), there're some amazing players playing in India. They're going to take the team forward in the T20 format and do wonders as we've seen them do in the IPL," said Kohli.

"I have no doubts that they'll keep the flag waving high and really take this team further from here now."

In 125 T20I matches, Kohli scored 4188 runs at an average of 48.69 with 122 being his highest score. That was his only T20 century - coming against Afghanistan in September 2022.

Over the years, Kohli revelled in taming big occasions and on his last day as a T20I player for India he did not waver from that tradition.

"It was now or never kind of a situation I knew. This is my last T20 game for India. It's the last World Cup that I was going to play. So, I wanted to make the most of it and this was our aim. We wanted to win an ICC tournament."

Kohli said the secret to scaling clutch points is respecting them.

“As I said, it was the occasion that helped me put my head down and just respect the situation rather than trying to force things out there and just really play the game that my team wanted me to play,” he noted.

However, Kohli said he was determined to call time on his T20I career even if India had lost the title clash.

“Yes, I have. This was an open secret. It was not something that I was not going to announce even if we had lost. This was going to be my last T20 World Cup for India,” he said.

Kohli was delighted for his long-time teammate and skipper Rohit Sharma as the latter grabbed a much-cherished World Cup

In fact, this was Rohit’s second T20 world title as he was also a part of the India side that won the trophy in 2007 under the legendary MS Dhoni.

"It's been a long wait for us to win an ICC tournament. It's not just me alone. You look at someone like Rohit as well. He's played nine T20 World Cups. This is my sixth. So, he deserves it as much as anyone else in the squad."

However, Kohli admitted that he came into the final without much confidence after a lean run in the group and Super Eight stages.

"It's hard to explain…the emotions I felt after the game. I knew what kind of mindset I was in. I wasn't very confident in the last few games. I wasn't feeling really good out there. But when God has to bless you with something, he shows you in ways that you can't imagine. That's why I said I'm really grateful and humbled right now."

As someone who generally keeps his equanimity in all kind of situations, Kohli tore that mask away and showed his tender side to the world.

"It's been difficult and hence the emotions. It's really difficult to hold things back. I think it's going to sink in a little later and the emotions are going to come to the surface little later. But it's just an amazing day and I couldn't be more thankful," he concluded.

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Published 29 June 2024, 18:30 IST

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