Virat Kohli magic sees India knock out Australia to reach Twenty20 World Cup semi-final against West Indies
India qualified for the World Twenty20 semi-finals and knocked out Australia after Virat Kohli smashed a brilliant unbeaten 82 in their do-or-die showdown in Mohali on Sunday.
Kohli’s powerful 51-ball knock propelled India to a six-wicket victory, successfully chasing down Australia’s 160-6 total and keeping their World T20 title dreams alive.
India now face the West Indies in a semi-final encounter in Mumbai on Thursday, despite the Caribbean side suffering their first loss at this tournament to underdogs Afghanistan earlier on Sunday.
England play New Zealand in the other semi-final in New Delhi on Wednesday, before the final showdown at Calcutta’s Eden Gardens on Sunday.
India, who won the inaugural tournament in 2007, are gunning to become the first nation to clinch the title twice and the first ever on home soil.
Australia’s hopes of winning their first World T20 trophy are once again in tatters, with the top-ranked test side now bowing out of the tournament.
Chasing Australia’s challenging total, India had looked down and out at 94 for four but Kohli and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (18 not out) put on 67 runs to take the team to the finish line.
The 27-year-old Kohli planned his knock to perfection, mixing caution with aggression to smash two sixes and nine fours in a pressure-cooker atmosphere at the packed Punjab Cricket Association ground.
“This innings has to be in my top three, perhaps the top right now because I’m a bit emotional,” Kohli, named man of the match, said.
Dhoni, who effected three dismissals, hit the winning four with five balls to spare to trigger wild celebrations in the stands.
Shane Watson’s international career ended in disappointment although the retiring Australian all-rounder did well to grab two key wickets and a spectacular running catch.
Earlier, opener Aaron Finch shared 54 runs for the opening wicket with Usman Khawaja to give Australia a flying start after Steven Smith won the toss and elected to bat.
Afghanistan had failed to qualify for the semi-finals heading into Sunday’s match, but were determined to take home a consolation victory against the Windies, who had already made the final four.
The never-say-die Afghans clinched an historic six-run victory, their first ever in the Super 10 stage of the World T20, sparking team celebrations on the pitch.
Windies captain Darren Sammy brushed off his side’s first loss, describing it as a “banana skin” on the road to clinching their second crown after wining the final in 2012.
“We have two more steps to take, and we just had a slight banana skin in the race, and we just have to regroup and come back again,” he said.