COLOMBO, Oct 2 (PTI) : India’s quest to regain the World Twenty20 title came to a heartbreaking end after they were knocked out of the tournament despite a thrilling one-run victory over South Africa in the final Super Eights contest here tonight.
Put into bat, India scored 152 for six and needed to restrict South Africa within 121 to qualify for the semifinals on net run rate but Faf Du Plessis knocked the stuffing out of the Indian bowlers with a smashing half century that put paid to their hopes of making it to the knock-out stage.
India’s task was made all the more difficult after Pakistan comprehensively beat Australia by 32 runs in an earlier Super Eights match of the day as it strengthened their net run-rate. Australia and Pakistan qualify for the semifinals from Group II.
South Africa were all out for 151 in the penultimate ball to end their campaign after losing all three of their Super Eights match.
Ever since winning the inaugural edition in 2007, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his boys have failed to reach even the semifinals of the subsequent editions.
Du Plessis hit 65 off 38 balls with the help of six boundaries and two sixes but more importantly he dashed any hope of India making it to the last four.
The defining moment came when Robin Peterson played a slow bouncer from Lakshmipathy Balaji towards short fine leg as South Africa reached 122 and it was cheered lustily by a sizeable Pakistani supporters anxiously waiting for the moment.
For India, the magic figure was 121 and the start was a right one. Zaheer Khan bowled a perfect delivery first up to dismiss Hashim Amla. The delivery pitched on the off-middle line and then moved a shade to take the outside edge of Amlas bat as Virender Sehwag took a good catch diving to his left.
Irfan Pathan got Jacques Kallis to flick one which was taken by Rohit Sharma at mid-wicket. Faf du Plessis and skipper AB de Villiers then added 30 in quick time and it was Du Plessis who started taking on the Indian bowlers.