Kohli leads India to T20 World Cup triumph over South Africa

India's Virat Kohli produced his top score of the tournament in the final of the T20 World Cup against <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:South Africa;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">South Africa</a> (Randy Brooks)

India won the T20 World Cup title in dramatic and emotional fashion with Virat Kohli starring in a thrilling seven-run victory over South Africa at Kensington Oval on Saturday.

Kohli, who later announced his retirmenet from T20 internationals, steadied the India innings with his fine 76 taking them to a strong 176-7.

When Heinrich Klaasen blasted a superb 52 from 27 balls, it looked as though South Africa, appearing in their first final, were closing in on victory but they were halted by some outstanding Indian bowling and catching at the end.

South Africa ended on 169-8 with Hardik Pandya taking 3-20 for India another reminder of his outstanding ability, particularly in 'death bowling'.

The win is the second T20 World Cup title for India following their triumph in the first edition in 2007 and it also ends their 11-year wait for a major title going back to the 2013 Champions Trophy.

But while the team and their huge travelling army of fans celebrated in Barbados, the win also marked the end of an era with skipper Rohit Sharma also calling it a day for the shortest format of the international game and coach Rahul Dravid having already announced his departure.

It was a sweet farewell for veteran Kohli who had struggled in the tournament, coming into the final with an average of just 10.7, but he delivered his best innings at the perfect moment with his balanced batting ensuring India won the title after an unbeaten tournament.

"I am so proud to get the runs for the team the day it mattered most," said Kohli.

"The occasion prompted that change for me, I felt like it was now or never. We have wanted to lift a trophy for a long time.

"I wasn't feeling myself before today. I wasn't confident. So I am very grateful and humble right now. It has been difficult, so there are a lot of emotions," he added.

- Yadav catch -

Kohli's asssured display was just what was needed for India who had slipped to 34 for three after Sharma won the toss and opted to bat.

In what has been a low-scoring tournament, the total looked to be a daunting one for South Africa but then Quinton de Kock (39) and Tristan Stubbs (31) set the Proteas on their way before Klaasen turned the game in their direction in the 15th over, smashing Axar Patel for 24 including two fours and two sixes.

When Klaasen was finally removed, caught behind off Hardik Pandya, the Proteas needed just 26 off the last 23 balls.

Knowing they had to take the initiative, Rohit turned early for Jasprit Bumrah's final over and he answered the skipper's call perfectly, bowling Marco Jansen and conceding just two runs in the 18th over.

That meant South Africa needed 20 from the final two overs and Arshdeep Singh bowled a masterful length to allow just four.

With 16 to win off the last over, Pandya bowled a full-toss at Miller who smashed it high straight down the ground but Suryakumar Yadav produced a breath-taking catch on the boundary, throwing the ball back into play before he crossed the ropes and then returning to complete the catch.

Kagiso Rabada edged a four and Pandya showed some nerves with a wide but the seamer kept his cool to ensure silverware for India after they lost in last year's 50 Over World Cup on home soil.

For Rohit the victory was the culmination of strong efforts and near-misses in recent years.

"It is very hard to sum up what we have been through for three or four years. There has been a lot behind the scenes. So winning this game isn't just about what we did today, it's about those years, it's all that hard work.

"We've played a lot of high pressure games that we've been on the wrong side of. We now understand what needs to be done when the pressure is on. Today is the perfect example of what we can do with our backs against the wall. It was going South Africa's way but we wanted it so badly," he said.

It was a bitter end for South Africa who had reached their first World Cup final after ending a streak of seven defeats in semi-finals in both World Cup formats.

"Gutted for the time being, it'll take some time to reflect on a really good campaign, hurts quite a bit but incredibly proud," said captain Aiden Markram.