Wednesday, July 17, 2024

T20 World Cup final: India and South Africa chase history in Barbados – BBC


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Highlights: India crush England to reach T20 World Cup final
History beckons in Barbados.
If India win the T20 World Cup final on Saturday it will secure their first world title for 13 years – a wait too long for the sport's overwhelming superpower.
Were South Africa to win it would be their first World Cup triumph in their long cricketing history.
"We haven't achieved what we would like to on the world stage," Proteas captain Aiden Markram said.
"That is what gets the juices going for the boys to try to achieve it.
"You have seen it in the close results. The will to win drives you to, by hook or by crook, get the job done."
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South Africa's past in men's World Cups is long and painful.
Greats of the game – Jacques Kallis, Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn and the rest, did not get to this point.
"There has been a lot of support from back home from past players, which is special for us," Markram added.
"They are the guys that inspired us when we were younger.
"To be making them proud and having their support means a hell of a lot to us as a team."
The Proteas failed to progress from their first seven semi-finals – five in the 50-over tournament and two in the T20 format.
They were beaten by the rain in 1992, Donald's run-out and Herschelle Gibbs' dropped catch in 1999 and Grant Elliott's last-over blitz in 2015.
That all changed on Wednesday when the current side thrashed Afghanistan.
"After the competition we will sit back and really appreciate what we have achieved so far as a team," Markram said.
"Whether we win or lose we have gone a step further and that is going in the right direction.
"Hopefully in the years to come it can break the burden of what other people have said about us as a team."
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Highlights: South Africa thrash Afghanistan to advance to T20 final
While South Africa are appearing in their first World Cup final, India are in their second in eight months.
They made similarly serene progress to the 50-over showpiece on home soil last year, only to freeze in the final in defeat by Australia.
Much has been made of India's more aggressive tactics in white-ball cricket, led by captain Rohit Sharma, but that was a misstep at the worst possible time.
"Players are very good at moving on from things, of recognizing things," India coach Rahul Dravid said.
"Just as we will move on from Ahmedabad, I'm sure South Africa will not be thinking about history and it will be a fresh day."
Having been an island populated by England fans for the past four weeks, India supporters have arrived over the past few days in Barbados – sensing their side's moment.
Since winning the World Cup at home in 2011, India have lost a 50-over final and a T20 final, as well as four semi-finals.
A country of 1.4bn people, a cricket board that takes almost 40% of the game's revenue, has been made to wait.
But, far away from home, there is a feeling this could finally be the time for a team packed with superstars.
Their only close game has been the victory over rivals Pakistan in the group stage, and the thrashing of England on Thursday re-emphasises their position as favourites.
South Africa, meanwhile, have been buoyed by the fact they have come through tight games.
The word 'choke' follows South African cricket around but this team, so far at least, has been attempting to banish that.
"There have been close moments in games that would have affected results but we managed to win those moments," added Markram.
"To do that two, three, four times has given the team belief we can win from any position."
Bangladesh were beaten by four runs, Nepal just one. The Proteas were losing against England in St Lucia until a superb final three overs.
"They are the best and most balanced two teams in the tournament," former England bowler Steven Finn said.
"From what I have seen in the last couple of games South Africa are close to putting together the perfect game."
A match involving India always involves talk of their former captain Virat Kohli.
In this tournament he has struggled – five single-figure scores out of seven and a high score of 37, leading Markram to be asked if he was worried about the great man coming good on the biggest stage.
"I don't think it worries me," Markram said plainly. South Africa need no reminder of his talents.
Kohli hit 72 not out in one of those previous semi-final defeats, in Mirpur in 2014.
India flew into Barbados on Thursday night, following their win against England in Guyana.
South Africa, who beat Afghanistan 24 hours earlier, had a six-hour delay in Trinidad because of a landing failure of a small aircraft in Barbados, which shut the island's runway.
"You have just got to crack on," Markram said with a smile, asked if it had impacted their preparation.
"There is no point sulking around and making it more miserable."
Barbados is also bracing itself for a tropical storm, expected to arrive on Monday.
More rain is forecast over the weekend but a reserve day is in place, unlike for England's semi-final, meaning this match could go into Sunday.
In the highly unlikely scenario no result was possible, India and South Africa would be declared joint winners.
That would allow both to end their wait.
In truth, for one it will keep on rolling on.
Listen to live Test Match Special commentary of South Africa v India on BBC Sounds, with in-play clips and live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.
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