More heartache for Proteas as India win T20 World Cup at the death

Anguish for Keshav Maharaj as India celebrate winning the T20 World Cup
Anguish for Keshav Maharaj as India celebrate winning the T20 World Cup
Image: Ash Allen/Reuters

The Proteas could reach out and almost touch the World Cup, but as they did Jasprit Bumrah and then Suryakumar Yadav, with a stunning boundary catch pulled them back. A match that looked like SA’s to win, was lost.

Needing 26 runs off the last 24 balls and with a rampaging Heinrich Klaasen with David Miller for company, the Proteas could rightfully dream of properly ending 32 years of anguish and embarrassment. That they ended up losing by seven runs, will leave many questioning the mental strength of the players again

A lengthy stoppage during which Indian wicket keeper Risabh Pant had his leg strapped at the end of the 16th over, broke Klaasen’s rhythm. Gamenship? Perhaps, but this was a World Cup final, and India were willing to push the envelope. 

Klaasen was dismissed off 52, off the first ball following that break, and SA’s innings basically came to a stop. Bumrah, the world’s best bowler, finished his spell conceding six runs off the last 12 balls he bowled, while also dismissing Marco Jansen, with a sublime inswinger. 

South Africa poked around tentatively, getting Miller on strike at the start of the final over at which point they needed 16 to win. The left-hander, who so often has finished innings’ for club and country smoked a ball from Hardik Pandya to long-off where Yadav, sprinting around the boundary pulled off one of those classic jungle catches — tiptoeing along the boundary cushion, he flipped the ball in their air, regained his balance and held to a match-winning catch.

The Proteas will be left questioning the management of the last few overs with Miller only facing six of the last 13 balls. More than that it will be their own ‘death’ bowling that will be cause for sleepless nights. While India went for just 18 runs in the last four overs, the Proteas conceding 42 runs in the last three overs of the Indian innings, was match-defining.

The batters, who’d found life so difficult on sporty wickets during the tournament, had seemingly made up for that with control throughout a chase of 177, which was always going to be challenging. 

Quinton de Kock played within himself to make 39 off 31 balls, sharing a crucial partnership of 58 for the third wicket with Tristan Stubbs. That followed a nervous start to the chase by the Proteas, who lost Reeza Hendricks to a ‘jaffer’ from Jasprit Bumrah — that pitched middle and hit the outside of the off stump — for four. Skipper Aiden Markram, after striking a delicious boundary off Bumrah then chased a wide ball from Arshdeep Singh, which he edged behind where Pant took a good low catch.

After Stubbs was bowled for 31, an innings in which he really should have made more, and then De Kock was caught at long leg, Klaasen and Miller got stuck into India’s spinners, seemingly changing the course of the match towards the Proteas. 

Klaasen smashed 24 runs off the 15th over bowled by Axar Patel, leaving India desperate. Bumrah was called upon earlier than Indian captain Rohit Sharma would have wanted, but even though he conceded just four runs in the following over, it was still SA’s game to win. Until it wasn’t.

The Indian innings was built around another masterful performance from Virat Kohli. He struck three fours in a listless opening over from Jansen, who generally had a poor afternoon.

The omens looked bad for the Proteas when Sharma started the second over with consecutive boundaries off Keshav Maharaj. 

But the left-arm spinner had good fortune go his way the rest of that over, with Sharma sweeping to square leg where Klaasen took the first of two excellent catches in the Indian innings. Pant was also dismissed sweeping, getting a top edge which flew straight into the air, giving De Kock an easy catch. 

While scoring 45 runs in the power play was a good return for India after winning the toss, the loss of three wickets meant they had to be more circumspect. That situation actually suited Kohli. He controlled the Indian innings after the power play, keeping the scoreboard ticking with singles, while leaving the impressive Patel, to swing hard for the odd boundary which he managed on five occasions, four of those flying over the ropes. 

Their partnership of 72 for the fourth wicket, provided the Indian innings with stability, and at the halfway stage with their total on 75/3, they also had a solid platform for the second half of the innings. 

Kohli launched the first ball of the 18th over bowled by Rabada, over long-on, for six, taking another 11 runs off the remainder of that over. The Proteas appeared to panic at that stage conceding a total of 42 runs off their last three overs as India surged past 170, with Jansen finishing with 1/49, while Rabada went for 36 in his four overs. . 

Kohli finished 76 off 59 balls, with the last 26 of the runs coming off 11 balls. His innings included six fours and two sixes.