`Bharat mata ki jai!` 

`Jhanda gaad diya!`

`Jai ho!`

India`s excruciating 11-year quest for a global championship reached its culmination, thanks to Virat Kohli`s strategic brilliance and Rohit Sharma`s inspirational leadership. The star-studded team tactfully outplayed perennial runners-up South Africa by a margin of runs in a dramatic final to secure its second T20 World Cup 2024 trophy on Saturday.

Kohli, a key figure in India`s 2011 ODI World Cup triumph, promptly announced his retirement from the format immediately after the match concluded. “It`s time for the next generation to step up. This decision was inevitable, win or lose,” Kohli stated.

Hardik Pandya, criticized for his recent IPL captaincy, broke down after enduring a challenging six months. A touching moment ensued when Rohit Sharma, who had the support of the crowd, planted a kiss on Pandya`s cheek.

Emotionally drained, captain Sharma was seen on his knees, with wife Ritika deeply moved, reflecting the overwhelming sentiment among all present.

During South Africa`s determined chase, Heinrich Klaasen`s explosive innings (52 off 27 balls) against India`s formidable spinners initially seemed to tilt the game in their favor. However, India rallied with crucial interventions from South Africa.

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In the final over, Pandya, often criticized in recent months, held his nerve to defend 16 runs, ensuring India`s first ICC trophy since 2013 and their inaugural T20 World Cup title in the post-IPL era. South Africa managed 169 for eight in response to India`s 176 for seven.

The jubilation among India`s stars, Kohli and Rohit, was palpable, overshadowed only by the poignant departure of head coach Rahul Dravid.

Kohli`s resilient 76 off 59 balls, coupled with Axar Patel`s crucial 47 off 31, set a record for the highest total in a T20 World Cup 2024 final.

While India`s pacers struck early, Quinton de Kock (39 off 31) and Tristian Stubbs (52 off 27) led a brief resurgence for South Africa. Yet, Klaasen`s brilliant display nearly turned the tide.

Facing an uphill task, South Africa faltered under pressure, needing 20 runs from the last 12 balls with David Miller and Keshav Maharaj at the crease.

Also Read: `Time for next generation to take over`: Kohli announces retirement from T20Is

Jasprit Bumrah`s pivotal return to the attack in the final overs, claiming crucial wickets and conceding just six runs, swung the momentum back in India`s favor.

With 16 runs needed off the last six balls, Suryakumar Yadav`s sensational boundary catch off Hardik Pandya put India on the brink of a thrilling victory.

Earlier, India recovered from a shaky start at 34 for three to post the highest total in a T20 World Cup final. Axar Patel`s unfortunate run-out disrupted his vital partnership with Kohli, who steadied the innings to reach his half-century from 48 balls.

Opting to bat first at Kensington Oval, Rohit Sharma (9) fell early, setting the stage for a tense powerplay where Suryakumar Yadav`s dismissal added to India`s woes.

Kohli`s adept boundary hitting against Marco Jansen and Axar Patel`s calculated stroke play against South Africa`s spinners were crucial in propelling India`s innings.

Shivam Dube`s brisk 27 off 16 deliveries provided late impetus as Kohli`s controlled aggression in the final overs bolstered India`s total by 58 runs, losing three wickets.

(With agency inputs)