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11-year ICC title drought over as Rohit Sharma’s India defy South Africa & odds to win T20 World Cup

11-year ICC title drought over as Rohit Sharma’s India defy South Africa & odds to win T20 World Cup

The last ICC title India won was in 2013, when they beat England to seize the Champions Trophy title.

The ICC title drought is over! The Indian cricket team is once again T20 World Cup champions, and what a way to do it. Winning 8 games on the trot, Rohit Sharma’s men have delivered joy to 1.4 billion people. Going against an unbeaten South Africa, the job was never going to be easy. Having lost a soul-crushing ODI World Cup Final to Australia last year and down in the dumps with just 26 runs needed in 24 balls and 6 wickets in hand, Team India came back to win what is perhaps the best comeback victory of all time. India had a 3.38 % chance to win the T20 World Cup Final at one point, and then Jasprit Bumrah came to change it all.

Axar & Kohli’s rescue India

Intent! That’s how Team India started. The Men in Blue were 23/0 after 1.3 and looked set for a mammoth score. But then tragedy struck in the form of Keshav Maharaj. Although not at his best, the left-arm spinner got the wickets of Rohit Sharma and then Rishabh Pant in 3 balls. Rohit got caught, swept a ball from outside off into the hands of Heinrich Klaasen stationed at the backward square leg, and Pant somehow towed a full toss to Quinton de Kock. 

From there on, India slowed down. Suryakumar Yadav departed for a low score as well, and South Africa was truly on top. Then came Axar Patel, Team India’s best all-rounder in the T20 World Cup, who saved them from a tough situation. Along with Kohli, he put on a 72-run partnership. However, the all-rounder was caught lacking and was run out due to the quick wits of Quinton de Kock.

Today, Shivam Dube showed why Rohit Sharma persisted with him. Using his power, the tall southpaw struck a quickfire 16-ball 27 and carried the momentum forward. Meanwhile, Kohli looked out of touch and laboured to a 48-ball fifty. However, after reaching the milestone, the veteran freed up and scored 26 runs on the next 11 balls. Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja combined faced 4 balls and did whatever they could to contribute.

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Defending 177, Team India couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. In the second over, Jasprit Bumrah bowled an absolute seed to send Reeza Hendricks to a great start. In the next over, Arshdeep Singh struck, sending the South African skipper back. It looked like the match might have already been over. But like Axar-Kohli rescued India, Quinton de Kock and Tristian Stubbs decided it was up to them to save the Proteas.

Together, the duo strung a 50-run stand, belting Kuldeep Yadav Axar Patel in particular. Despite getting hit, Axar was full of confidence and soon sent Stubbs back into the hut as the batter got bowled while going to a slop sweep. Then came spin specialist Heinrich Klaasen, who started to bash the bowlers from the get-go.

With the match slipping away, Rohit brought his strike bowler Arshdeep back, and he didn’t disappoint. The left-arm pacer sent South Africa’s set opener, de Kock, back and brought India back into the game. But the match started to slip once again as their ace, Kuldeep Yadav, faced failure for the first time. The left-arm wrist spinner ended without a wicket and was hit for 45 runs. Axar too was taken to the cleaners soon, as Klaasen smashed 24 runs in the 15th over.

All hope was lost, with South Africa now needing 30 from 30. Bumrah tried his best, giving away just 4 runs in the 16th over, but Proteas remained in complete control. With no options left, Rohit handed the ball to Hardik Pandya, and he struck on the very first ball, sending Klaasen back to the hut. The Indian fans at the Kensington Oval found their voice once again as hopes of a victory were rejuvenated. 

Bumrah then bowled a 2-run over and got Marco Jansen’s wicket, and when David Miller was gone, India were favorites to win. The victory, as much as it was India’s, will also be remembered for South Africa once again losing their nerve when it mattered the most, and the ‘chokers’ tag attached to them won’t be going away soon.

T20 World Cup Final: Brief Scores

India: 176/7 (Virat Kohli 76, Axar Patel 47; Keshav Maharaj 2/23, Anrich Nortje 2/26)

South Africa: 169/8 (Heinrich Klaasen 52, Quinton de Kock 39; Hardik Pandya 3/20, Jasprit Bumrah 2/18)

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