Kohli crushes Proteas to reach WT20 finale


The Proteas maintained their almost flawless losing record in ICC event semi-finals as they were downed by six wickets by a mighty Indian side that kept its composure throughout a difficult chase.

The Proteas maintained their almost flawless losing record in ICC event semi-finals as they were downed by six wickets by a mighty Indian side that kept its composure throughout a difficult chase of a stiff target of 173 on a challenging surface.

A sublime Virat Kohli (72 not out off 44 balls) kept his cool to guide India to victory and hit the winning runs with a powerful pull in front of square off Dale Steyn that went for four and gave the men in blue a place in the final, five balls before the 20-over deadline to get the runs was up.

India's successful chase was the second highest in knockout games in World T20 history and also represented the first time that South Africa have failed to defend a score of over 165 for as long as the country has played T20 Internationals.

South Africa won the toss and elected to bat on a deck that had spent time under wet covers and had just been used for a women's semi-final. Quinton De Kock (6) fell early as MS Dhoni convinced the umpire that the young opener had snicked off.

Hashim Amla (22 off 16 balls) then gave the innings some impetus but after he was bowled by India's standout performer with the ball, Ravi Ashwin (4 ovs, 3-22), India's spinners got a grip on SA's scoring rate.

Faf du Plessis (58 off 41 balls) and JP Duminy (45* off 40 balls) did well to consolidate however and by the time they had cut loose and violently attacked Suresh Raina (0-35) and Amit Mishra (0-36) the Proteas were in a strong position. A quick cameo from David Miller (23* off 12 balls) took the innings ton a solid 172/4 (20 ovs).

India began the chase well as South Africa bowled too many bad balls, far too often neglecting to consider the direction of the short square boundary, and at the end of the powerplay only Rohit Sharma (24 off 13 balls) was back in the dugout and a rate of ten runs to the over was under the belt.

Kohli found good company in Rahane (32 off 30 balls) then Yuvraj (18 off 17 balls) and then Raina (21 off 10 balls) as he measured the required temp of the chase with precision. At one point lightning strikes threatened to involve Messrs Duckworth and Lewis but Kohli ensured that he was always either ahead of the D/L par, or one good hit away from it.

Much of the crowd willed South Africa on but they didn't deliver the goods at high pressure times. Nine wides is far too many in 50 overs, never mind in 20, and that was probably the difference between the sides.

Faf du Plessis seemed to make some peculiar captaincy decisions, including opening the bowling with Albie Morkel and JP Duminy, instead of with his spearhead Steyn.

If there was ever any chance that du Plessis would be given the Test captaincy ahead of AB de Villiers then that is no longer the case.

In short, South Africa batted very well and had some good moments in the field but an inexperienced bowling attack was no match for an Indian batting order that knows how to win big games.

India will start Sunday's final as worthy favourites against Sri Lanka.

Earlier SA were outplayed in the second women's semi-final as they lost to England by nine wickets. A spirited knock by Chloe Tyron (40 off 31 balls) was the only positive that the SA women could take out of a game where it was very clear that one side appeared quite professional and the other very amateur.

England play Australia, the second-best side in the tournament in Sunday's final that is a curtain raiser to the men's final.

England's women go professional this year, following major investment from the ECB, and it will be hard for other sides to compete the side that plays full time.

India: R Sharma, Y Singh, S Raina, V Kohli, A Rahane, MS Dhoni, R Ashwin, R Jadeja, A Mishra, B Kumar, M Sharma

South Africa: Q de Kock, H Amla, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, D Miller, F du Plessis, A Morkel, D Steyn, B Hendricks, I Tahir, W Parnell