Kohli leads the way as India set SA 177 to win

India's Virat Kohli produced his top score of the tournament in the final of the T20 World Cup against South Africa on Saturday. (Randy Brooks)
India's Virat Kohli produced his top score of the tournament in the final of the T20 World Cup against South Africa on Saturday. (Randy Brooks)

Virat Kohli delivered when India needed him the most, making 76 as South Africa were set a target of 177 to win in the final of the T20 World Cup at Kensington Oval on Saturday.

India captain Rohit Sharma had won the toss and opted to bat and if the aim was to put South Africa under pressure it certainly worked with Kohli, who has struggled for form in the tournament, delivering a measured and controlled knock.

Kohli and Axar Patel put on a partnership of 74 which was the foundation of a total of 176-7 that will prove challenging for South Africa before Shivam Dube helped step the tempo up at the end with 27 off 16 balls.

Kohli, who had come into the final averaging just 10.71, made the perfect start by hitting three fours off the opening over from Marco Jansen, with the 15 runs coming from the first six balls a record high for a T20 World Cup final.

Skipper Rohit, looking to maintain that momentum, then struck boundaries off the first two balls from left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj but then misjudged a sweep shot, finding Heinrich Klaasen at mid-wicket who made a fine, low, diving catch.

Maharaj then claimed a second victim in his first over when Rishabh Pant also attempted a sweep but mis-timed his shot badly, top edging a full delivery straight up in the air and into the gloves of wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock.

Kohli was looking confident but was in need of someone to build a partnership, after Suryakumar Yadav lasted just four balls before he holed out to Klaasen at deep square-leg off Kagiso Rabada.

India were 45-3 at the end of the six-over powerplay and added 30 more, with no loss, at the half-way point in their innings.

Kohli and Axar were then motoring along nicely and the 100 came up off 82 balls with Axar smashing Rabada over long-on for six.

South Africa badly needed to break up the partnership and they got the breakthrough with some help from India -- non-striker Axar (47) hesitated after looking for a quick single and De Kock did well to hit the stumps at the other end.

Kohli reached his half-century from 48 balls and celebrated by launching the next ball he faced, from Rabada, over long-on for six.

Kohli finally went in the 19th over caught by Rabada at long-on off Jansen after hitting six fours and two sixes in his 59-ball innings.

It was a very minor consolation for Jansen who ended with figures of 1-49 off his four overs.

Despite fears of rain, the game took place in bright sunshine and with a gusty wind blowing across the 28,000 capacity venue which was close to full.

Rohit and his South African counterpart Aiden Markram both named unchanged line-ups from the teams which won their respective semi-finals.