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Classy Kohli puts India on verge of trophy


If it is possible not to break sweat when chasing 173 to win in a semi-final under floodlights in stifling humidity, India more or less performed the feat last night.

They defeated South Africa by six wickets with five balls to spare, guided to the target by the consummate batting of Virat Kohli.

In scoring an unbeaten 72 from 44 balls, Kohli gave a lovely exhibition of rapid accumulation without appearing to do much in particular. He reached his half-century with only one four and two sixes, the rest coming by turning ones into twos and ensuring that the board ticked over.

Kohli’s innings contained only three dot balls and in its way was a minor masterpiece of how to approach a T20 innings. It was his third half-century of the tournament, which India have so far dominated by winning five straight matches. They will play Sri Lanka, finalists for the third time, tomorrow. If India win – and they are strong favourites to do so – they will hold all three ICC limited-overs trophies.

Considering that they came to Bangladesh having under-performed for months and with virtually the entire country calling for the dismissal of the coach, Duncan Fletcher, it has been some turnaround. It is as if they know where to do it and when to do it. The cloud of suspicion hanging over the game because of nefarious deeds in the Indian Premier League has left them blithely unaffected.

South Africa must have felt they were in the game after scoring 172 for 4. Although they did not finish as strongly as they might have wished, their captain Faf du Plessis’s muscular 58 made them competitive.

But their bowling was distinctly awry and India were allowed a cosy start. The great Dale Steyn was held back to deliver his final three overs at the end – understandable if risky. By then it was much too late even for him.