Ashwin, with figures of three for 22, repays captain’s faith in him; du Plessis, Duminy bat well for South Africa

This was a target and an opponent harder than any previously encountered at the tournament, but India has turned into such a lord of the run chase in these conditions that no mountain is too high. In the end, India strolled home, victory by six wickets over South Africa at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium here on Friday propelling it into the final of the ICC World T20.Virat Kohli led the way with an innings of supreme force and confidence, an unbeaten 44-ball-72 that took in a breezy assault on Dale Steyn.

Chasing 173, India needed 40 off the last four overs when Yuvraj Singh was dismissed. The contest turned in the very next over, Wayne Parnell leaking 17 runs as the target shrank.

Kohli then pounded Steyn for two fours, showing not a moment’s hesitation in stepping down the wicket. The winning runs, rather symbolically of India’s conquering of him, came off Steyn, Kohli dismissing him to the leg-side fence. It had been clinical and blisteringly confident.

India’s pursuit had begun in a rush, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane treating South Africa’s part-time opening bowlers without any deference. Twenty-three runs came off the first two overs in a flurry of boundaries before Steyn came on.

He was taken for 10, Rohit upper-cutting him over point for six. Steyn’s remaining three overs were stashed away at once, to be used through to the close. Rohit fell for 24, but Rahane stayed firm with Kohli. After Rahane’s dismissal, Yuvraj and Kohli kept the runs flowing, adding 56 in 6.3 overs.

India needed 60 off the last six, with Steyn holding three in the bank, but that would be no trouble. The fast bowler went for 36 from 3.1 overs.

India will have been largely pleased with how the opening half of the first innings unfolded. The next 10 overs will be less of a delight to review. South Africa batted on winning the toss and lost Quinton de Kock at once. However, Hashim Amla sprang into activity at the other end. He played a couple of supremely enjoyable drives through extra-cover; the quality of his strokes, it seems, is format-proof.

South Africa had rolled away to 43 in five overs. And M.S. Dhoni decided he would not hold R. Ashwin back any longer. The off-spinner repaid his captain’s faith immediately. Bowling around the wicket to Amla, he sent down a carrom ball that pitched on or just outside leg and spat past the outside edge to hit the off-stump.

Runs slow down

The runs slowed to a trickle thereafter. South Africa managed only 15 runs from overs six through nine, with the gap between boundaries — at one point — stretching to 27 balls.

But Faf du Plessis then stepped on the gas. Raina was taken for 16 in the 12th over and Amit Mishra for 17 in the next as J.P. Duminy joined in. Sixes were struck off both the bowlers as du Plessis raised his fifty.

Ashwin got rid of the rival captain for 58, the ball ricocheting onto the stumps off the batsman’s body. But, it had been a profitable alliance for South Africa, Duminy and du Plessis adding 71 runs in 8.4 overs.

A.B. de Villiers caused some consternation when he boldly reverse-swept Mishra for four but Dhoni had Ashwin to thank again, as he induced a top-edge that was held at fine-leg.

The Tamil Nadu bowler was the best of the lot again, while Mohit Sharma leaked a few runs at the close. South Africa reached a tall 172 as Duminy and the new man David Miller made haste, adding 43 in the last 4.3 overs.

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