Virat Kohli, pacers star in nerve-shattering, soul-redeeming 7-run win as Proteas choke again with finish line in sight
BRIDGETOWN (BARBADOS): There was a new sunrise for Indian cricket on the banks of the North Atlantic Ocean on Saturday. All the agony of losing at the final hurdle is a thing of the past. The balm for years of hurt – that reached its crescendo on November 19 last in Ahmedabad when India lost to Australia in the final of the 50-over World Cup – has been provided by a group of bravehearts who refused to give up.
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There can be a million moments that you’ll keep talking about all your lives, but the one that will never be forgotten is Suryakumar Yadav‘s outstanding catch off the first ball of the 20th over. South Africa needed 16 runs off the last over and Hardik Pandya was the desperate choice. A yorker gone wrong had been hit in the air and it seemed to be going for six, but only until Suryakumar completed a catch that will be remembered as the most memorable, after the one taken by Sreesanth to send Misbah-ul-Haq home off the last ball of the 2007 final.

It was a battle of nerves after that and Hardik, who has gone through so many upheavals in his life recently, kept landing every ball on the spot. As Keshav Maharaj’s last shot went nowhere, Hardik just sat down on the pitch with tears in his eyes. He had redeemed himself and so had Team India.
It wasn’t just the last over. Hardik had the ball in his hand when Heinrich Klaasen and Miller were going great guns. All South Africa needed were 26 off 25 balls. Jasprit Bumrah‘s over had been negotiated, the flags were being folded, the journalists were switching their laptops off. Hardik bowled one slightly wide and Klaasen, who probably believed the World Cup was theirs by then, tried a punch that got a nick and went to the wicketkeeper. And that’s where the infamous South African choke started setting in.

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A team that had played with remarkable positivity until then started thinking about losing the game. Once such emotions start creeping in, there’s a man in the Indian lineup who can simply hammer you. In came Bumrah for the 18th over and Marco Jansen’s stumps were shattered. South Africa managed virtually nothing from those six balls and that turned the game. South Africa stuttered and stumbled, as they always do.
And now let’s talk about a man who might not have played this game if the world had had its way. Captain Rohit Sharma had said before the final that Kohli was saving his best for the final. And how the ‘King’ kept his word!

Things had gone wrong for India after they were reduced to 45-3 in the first Powerplay. Kohli (76 off 59 balls), after the first three boundaries that he hit in the first over, struggled to force the pace in the middle. But he didn’t throw his wicket away and held one end up as Axar Patel (47 off 31 balls) played an innings of quality.
At a time when left-arm spinner Maharaj was looking to get on top, Axar took on the slog sweep and attacked the longer boundary, clearing it with ease. Axar and Kohli ran well between the wickets and the partnership of 72 was central to India reaching a score of respectability. Axar was looking for quite a few more, but a moment’s lapse of concentration allowed Quinton de Kock to take an aim at the stumps and break the stumps at the far end.

Team India Final