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Cricket: India wins T20 World Cup as Kohli performs in final

June 29, 2024

India's cricketers have won the T20 World Cup, thanks in part to a half-century from Virat Kohli, who made up for a sub-par tournament when it mattered most. Kohli announced his T20 retirement afterwards.

India's Virat Kohli bats during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup final cricket match between India and South Africa at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Saturday, June 29, 2024.
Virat Kohli struggled all tournament, then turned on the style when it mattered most, before announcing his retirement from T20 internationalsImage: Ramon Espinosa/AP Photo/picture alliance

South Africa fell just a few runs short of India's total of 176-7, scoring only 169-8 in a nailbiting finale to cricket's T20 World Cup in Bridgetown in Barbados. 

It's India's second triumph in the competition, and its first since the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007.

The victory prompted rapid congratulations from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"Our team brings the T20 World Cup home in style!," Modi wrote online, calling the match "historic." 

Kohli comes good at the last, announces T20 retirement

India won the toss and elected to bat first, setting a target for South Africa to chase.

India's star player Virat Kohli won the player-of-the match award, scoring a crucial 76 in the final after a difficult tournament, and announced his retirement from T20 cricket immediately after the win. 

"This was my last T20 game playing for India," 35-year-old Kohli said. "Time for the next generation to take the T20 game forward."

India's Virat Kohli celebrates after winning the T20 World Cup. Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados - June 29, 2024
Kohli also had his bowlers to thank for containing South Africa, who for a time looked on course to surpass India's totalImage: Ash Allen/REUTERS

Kohli had only tallied 75 runs in the previous seven games, well below expectations for India's most dangerous batsman, but more than doubled his tournament tally on Saturday with 76 off just 59 deliveries. 

Kohli hit six fours and a pair of sixes, and also notched a handy partnership of 74 runs with Axar Patel that laid the foundations for an Indian total that was just too high for the South Africans to match. 

Kohli made his intentions clear right from the start — hitting the first three balls of the match across the boundary on his way to taking 15 runs from the first six deliveries, a new record for the first over in a T20 final.

South Africa falter early, come back strong, fall just short

South Africa's chase almost looked doomed from the outset, as India quickly took the wickets of Reeza Hendricks and Aiden Markram in the time it took South Africa to notch 12 runs. 

India's Arshdeep Singh, center, bowls a delivery during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup final cricket match between India and South Africa at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Saturday, June 29, 2024
South Africa needed 177 runs to beat India, and fell just a few short in the final in BarbadosImage: Ricardo Mazalan/AP Photo/picture alliance

But Quinton de Kock and Tristan Stubbs steadied the ship for South Africa with a partnership of 58, and Heinrich Klaasen came in behind them to score an extremely rapid 52 off 27 balls. Briefly, the chase appeared to be back on, South Africa were arguably even edging into pole position.

Yet near the end of the game, South Africa was still in need of a run every ball and could not keep up the scoring rate as India took several more wickets, bringing South Africa's weaker lower-order batsmen onto the pitch for the decisive phase of play. 

The "T20" format of cricket is a relatively new and much shorter, more all-action playing format for a sport that famously can take days to reach a resolution. It has become the sport's most marketable format.

msh/ab (AP, Reuters)