ICC World T20 Semifinal Results: Kohli Unstoppable as India Cruise Past South Africa to Setup Another Major Final with Sri Lanka
By Deepak Vikraman | April 5, 2014 3:14 AM EST
It's amazing how easy this man makes a chase look, no matter what the situation, no matter what the tournament, no matter who the opponent - when India need a player to stand up and take them to victory in a chase, there really is nobody like Virat Kohli.
In yet another batting master class from India's new superstar, Kohli glided, flicked, stroked, drove and smashed his way to an unbeaten half-century of incomparable proportions, to guide India to a brilliant ICC World T20 2014 semifinal victory over South Africa.
The Proteas would have had visions of an ICC final in their minds after posting a formidable 172 for four in their 20 overs, with captain Faf Du Plessis (58) and JP Duminy (45 n.o.) making crucial contributions and nullifying R Ashwin's outstanding figures of three for 22.
However, India made that daunting scoreboard-pressure target look like a Sunday morning drive, with Kohli's immaculate 72 (44b, 5x4, 2x6), anchoring the chase as the likes of Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina played around him to great effect, with India reaching the target with five balls to spare, finishing on 176 for four in 19.1 overs.
The result of that cool-as-ice victory is another final against Sri Lanka, the team India beat three years ago to create one of the greatest modern-day memories.
Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma got off to a sparkling start, scoring 14 runs from the first over by JP Duminy, with India then racing to 33 after the first three.
Rohit (24, 13b, 4x4, 1x6) looked in good touch, knocking out a few nice boundaries, but in the process of looking for another, his demise was written, with the opener skying one to the moon and back, without the distance, with Du Plessis completing a catch at mid-on off Beuran Hendricks (two for 31).
Rahane and Kohli, though, carried on the good start, reaching 75 for one after nine overs. Rahane fell after a nice 32 (30b, 2x4, 1x6), leaving the script for Kohli and Yuvraj Singh to write.
Both milked the bowling, while picking off boundaries every now and then, taking the game closer and closer, till it came down to 51 from the final five overs.
With two overs from Steyn and another from Tahir, though, it was anybody's game. Kohli took charge in 16th over, from Tahir (4-0-30-1), smashing a big six over midwicket, but the leg-spinner came back brilliantly in his final delivery, dismissing Yuvraj (18, 17b, 2x4), with the left-hander finding De Villiers at mid-off.
Dhoni chose to stay in the dugout, sending Suresh Raina in, and it worked like a charm, with the left-hander, pulling, edging, and inside-edging his way to 17 runs from the Wayne Parnell over, which put India on the brink, needing 23 from the last three overs.
Kohli took over in the next few deliveries bringing down the target to six from the final ten balls, before Raina (21, 10b, 3x4, 1x6), looking to finish things off, fell to Hendricks.
However, with Dhoni to arrive, it was just the merest of blips, as Kohli took India home to one run with a gorgeous boundary, before Captain Cool played out a dot wanting Kohli to hit the winning runs. The India wizard did just that with a thwack to the boundary off Steyn, who went wicketless while conceding 36 runs in 3.1 overs, only emphasising India's dominance.
Bowling first, India's biggest worry would have been that phenom AB De Villiers thumping the ball to all ends of the park like only he can; however, it was not De Villiers who hurt India, but rather a combined effort from the Proteas batsmen, with skipper Du Plessis leading from the front.
Hashim Amla, ye again, dispelled any doubts about his capabilities in this format, tonking the bowlers for repeated boundaries, with Quinton De Kock, the man who tormented India in the ODI series not so long ago, yet again failing with the bat in this World T20.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the bowler to take the left-hander's wicket, inducing a little tickle to wicketkeeper Dhoni in just the fourth ball of the innings.
South Africa, though, got over from that blow pretty quickly as Amla, so composed, so elegant, so effective, and Du Plessis, who always seems to be up for it against India much to his CSK skipper's chagrin, went about setting that platform wonderfully well.
The two put on 35 in 4.3 overs, taking their time initially, before exploding with a few boundaries. Amla and Du Plessis were going along nicely and the wave was sweeping against India, before R Ashwin, in his first legal delivery, struck a big blow, off a sumptuous delivery.
Amla (22, 16b, 4x4), with Ashwin coming around the wicket, looked to play the ball to the leg side, but could do nothing as the carrom ball from the off-spinner spun like a Shane Warne delivery to knock off off stump.
South Africa were on 44 for two in 5.1 over at the fall of the wicket, with Ashwin turning on the pressure with five more dot balls. Du Plessis and Duminy, though, are masters of the T20 format, and the two built an innings-turning 71-run partnership from a mere 52 deliveries.
The SA skipper was very much the aggressor, targeting Amit Mishra, India's best bowler in the tournament, to great effect, with Dhoni forced to keep the leg-spinner to just three overs in the innings, after his 18 balls went for 36 runs.
The onslaught from Du Plessis (58, 41b, 5x4, 2x6) put India under pressure, with Ashwin, yet again, coming to his team's rescue, getting the right-hander's wicket, with one ball and six overs to go.
De Villiers showed his intent with an only-he-can-play-that reverse sweep, but fell soon after, again to Ashwin (4-0-22-3), holing out in the deep to Rohit.
However, Duminy (45, 40b, 1x4, 3x6) and David Miller (23, 12b, 2x4, 1x6), with Dhoni choosing not to use Jadeja (2-0-8-0) with two left-handers at the crease, made full use of the final two overs from the India pacers - Bhuvneshwar and Mohit Sharma -- scoring 26 runs to take the score above 170.
However, they could do little but watch, and grudgingly admire, as Kohli and co. eased home.
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