Swashbuckling Kohli steers India into Twenty20 final

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 April, 2014, 1:02am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 April, 2014, 1:02am


Virat Kohli hit a superb unbeaten 72 as India beat South Africa by six wickets on Friday night to reach the final of the World Twenty20 tournament in Dhaka.

Chasing 173 to win in a semi-final, India strolled to the target with five balls to spare.

This becomes India's second final in five World Twenty20s after they won the inaugural event held in South Africa in 2007.

They meet Sri Lanka in the final in Dhaka on Sunday. Sir Lanka beat West Indies in a rain-affected match in the first semi-final.

South Africa, regarded as perennial chokers in crucial matches, yet again failed to reach any world-level final since their readmission into cricket in 1991.

Man-of-the-match Kohli smashed five boundaries and two sixes off 44 balls in a brilliant display of batting, highlighting India's strength at chasing a target. He hit paceman Dale Steyn for a boundary to seal the win.

Today was one of those days when I had to keep my cool. I had to keep telling myself that I could make up [the runs] later
Virat Kohli

"Today was one of those days when I had to keep my cool," said Kohli. "In Twenty20, I look at the target in number of runs and overs to go, not runs and balls to go. Overs make it look easier. I had to keep telling myself that I could make up [the runs] later."

Kohli and other Indian batsmen blunted South Africa's best bowlers, leg-spinner Imran Tahir - joint highest wicket-taker so far in the tournament with 12 - and paceman Steyn with authority.

Tahir managed just one wicket for 30 runs in his four overs while Steyn went for 36 in 3.1 overs.

Kohli brought up his seventh T20 fifty with a huge six off Tahir and despite the loss off Yuvraj Singh (18) and Suresh Raina (21) kept the run-chase smooth.

Rohit Sharma made a 13-ball 24 with a six and four boundaries and Ajinkya Rahane scored 32 off 30 balls.

South Africa were helped to 172-4 with skipper Faf du Plessis scoring a 41-ball 58 for his fifth Twenty20 fifty.

He added 71 for the third wicket with Jean-Paul Duminy who made an unbeaten 40-ball 45 to bolster the innings.

Du Plessis, who missed South Africa's last game against England because of a slow over-rate suspension, hit five boundaries and two towering sixes.

South Africa lost opener Quinton de Kock (six) in the first over before Hashim Amla and Du Plessis took the score to 44 in the fifth over.

But Ravichandran Ashwin, who took 3-22 in his four overs, put the brakes on South Africa's progress, claiming Amla (22) and then danger man AB de Villiers (10) off a miscued pull shot which was smartly held by Rohit Sharma at long leg.

In between, du Plessis and Duminy batted well to take South Africa to 115 before Ashwin bowled du Plessis off a miscued sweep.

Duminy, who hit three sixes and a four, added another 43 for the unbroken fifth wicket with Andrew Miller (23 not out) to help South Africa add 106 in the last 10 overs.