India end title drought with T20 World Cup 2024 win

BARBADOS: Pacers forced a comeback of the ages and steered India to edge past South Africa and win the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024, here at Kensington Oval on Saturday.

The Rohit Sharma-led side, who lost in the finals of the World Test Championship and the 50-overs home World Cup last year, managed to curtail South Africa at 169/8, defeating the Proteas by seven runs.

This was South Africa’s first senior men’s final since the inaugural Champions Trophy in Bangladesh in 1998, having lost seven semi-finals, including a gut-wrenching defeat against Australia in the 1999 World Cup.

Since entering World Cups in 1991, following the end of apartheid, South Africa had lost seven semi-finals in the two short formats.

Set to chase 177, South Africa came up short despite Heinrich Klaasen’s quickfire half-century.

The Proteas had a shaky start to the run chase as Reeza Hendricks and Aiden Markram perished cheaply inside the first three overs with just 12 runs on the board.

Following the early debacle, Quinton de Kock joined forces with Tristian Stubbs and put on an anchoring partnership for the third wicket.

The duo added brisk 58 runs amid the stand until Axar Patel cleaned up Stubbs in the ninth over. He scored 31 off 21 deliveries.

Quinton de Kock was then involved in another important partnership for South Africa when he added 36 runs for the fourth wicket with Heinrich Klaasen.

The wicketkeeper batter finally perished in the 13th over after scoring an anchoring 39 off 31 balls.

Meanwhile, Klaasen, unfazed by de Kock’s dismissal, turned the game on its head with belligerent hitting, the highlight of which was a 24-run over against Axar Patel.

Klaasen’s fireworks brought the required run-rate down to the run-a-ball as they needed 30 off the last five overs.

Indian captain Rohit Sharma then brought back his ace pacer Bumrah into the attack, who began to exert pressure on the South African batters, conceding just four runs in his third over.

Bumrah’s tight over resulted in Klaasen taking a wild dash on the first delivery of the next over and was caught behind after top-scoring for South Africa with a 27-ball 52, peppered with two fours and five sixes.

India’s pacers continued to exert pressure on South Africa, who crumbled under pressure and lost momentum.

The Proteas then required 16 off the final over with David Miller on strike. The pinch hitter, however, could not live up to his title and fell on the first delivery, making it an easier affair for India.

Hardik Pandya bagged three wickets for India, followed by Bumrah and Arshdeep with two each while Patel chipped in with a wicket.

Put into bat first, India registered 176/7 on the board, courtesy of a crucial fourth-wicket partnership between Kohli and Axar Patel.

India had a briefly flying start to their innings as they scored the highest runs (15) in the first over of the T20 World Cup final.

Aiden Markram’s decision to introduce spin straight up bore fruits as Keshav Maharaj dismissed in-form India captain Rohit Sharma (9) and Rishabh Pant (0) in an eventful second over to give South Africa an upper hand.

Virat Kohli then put together a brief one-sided partnership with Suryakumar Yadav before the latter fell victim to Kagiso Rabada in the fifth over, bringing the total down to 34/3 in 4.3 overs.

Kohli was then joined by Axar Patel in the middle and the duo combined to laun12Rabadach recovery.

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The pair batted sensibly and took calculated risks to add 72 runs for the fourth-wicket stand that lasted with Quinton de Kock bringing the curtains down to Axar’s knock with a direct hit.

Axar Patel scored 47 off 31 deliveries with the help of one four and four sixes.

Kohli switched gears after bringing up his first half-century in the ongoing T20 World Cup 2024.

He knitted an important fifth-wicket partnership with Shivam Dube which yielded 57 runs until he finally perished in the penultimate over.

Virat Kohli remained the top-scorer for India with a 59-ball 76 which featured six fours and two sixes.

Shivam Dube then decided to take on South African bowlers but fell victim to Anrich Nortje in the final over after scoring 27 off 16, laced up with three fours and a six.

Nortje and Maharaj bagged two wickets each for South Africa while Marco Jansen and Kagiso Rabada chipped in with a wicket apiece.

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