South Africa batted well and fielded well, but some indifferent bowling and the batting of Virat Kohli saw India to a six wicket victory with five balls remaining in the semi-finals of the ICC World Twenty20 in Dhaka on Friday.
The conditions suited India better than the Proteas, but they were made to struggle by the South African batsmen, who took the game to the Indian spinners as they posted a very decent 172 for 4 in their 20 overs. India, though, got off to a fast start in reply and Kohli played a man of the match winning innings of 72 not out off of 44 balls to see them to victory and a place in Sunday's final against Sri Lanka.
'I had to keep my cool'
"Today was just one of those days where I had to keep my cool," Kohli said at the post-match ceremony.
"Against a world class bowling attack, it is not easy to get boundaries initally, but it was all about sticking in there and believing in myself. I kept telling myself I am good enough to catch up later, no matter who was bowling to me, so I just backed myself throughout."
'I thought we batted excellently'
South African captain Faf du Plessis praised his team's batting performance. "I thought we batted excellently," he said. "It was a very good score against a good attack on this wicket. The ball spun a little bit and they bowled well, Ash [Ravi Ashwin] bowled really well. 170-plus, I thought, was a really good score, so credit to our batters to put up a good total."
Looking back on India's innings, he added: "MS [Dhoni] and his team, they know how to chase... They're very good. They've got guys that know how to pace the innings. Virat [Kohli] played a very good innings. Sometimes you just have to give credit to a very good batting performance.
"They deserve it. They've played really good cricket throughout the campaign. They were the better side."
'We lacked a little bit in our bowling'
Du Plessis said he felt his side's bowling had been a little sub-standard. "I thought tonight we lacked a little bit in our bowling. I think we bowled nine extras, and if you want to win a World Cup you have to make sure those small one percenters are happening for you. Tonight, unfortunately, it didn't. If you take those nine extra wides, there are a lot of runs that get scored off of them as well, so we are to blame.
"It was an up-and-down campaign for us. Our guys fought beautifully. We were a resilient bunch and we fought through every game, and we fought tonight. I thought we put up a good fight."
'170 was gettable'
"170 was gettable," Indian captain MS Dhoni said. "Yes, the bowlers went for a few runs from some big shots, but I felt they bowled quite a few deliveries that were dot balls."
The Proteas lost Quinton de Kock in the very first over of the match, given out caught behind by MS Dhoni off of the bowling of Bhuvneshwar Kumar for six. De Kock looked less than impressed with the umpire's decision, but he had to walk.
Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis then put on a useful partnership of 35 in 4.3 overs before Amla fell, a victim of a superb leg-spinner from Ravi Ashwin, which Amla missed as he tried to play the delivery to leg. The ball struck his off stump and he was out for 22 off of 16 deliveries.
JP Duminy and Du Plessis then added 71 off of 8.4 overs to put India on the back foot, with South Africa on 115 for 3 when Du Plessis departed in the 14th over for a very well played 58 off 41 balls, which included five fours and two sixes.
He was somewhat lucky to be dismissed by Ashwin; after giving himself space to the leg side, he went down on his back knee to try to sweep the delivery to the on side, but it bounced a little more than he expected, struck him in the chest and deflected away towards off and into the stumps.
De Villiers dismissed
AB de Villiers threatened to put the Indian bowlers to the sword, but when Ashwin sent down a short ball, he went for a six, but got too far under the ball and was caught on the boundary by Rohit Sharma for 10 off eight balls, leaving South Africa on 129 for 4.
Possibly because he feared bringing left-arm spinner Ravi Jadeja back into the attack with a very short leg side boundary for JP Duminy, who was set at the crease, Indian captain MS Dhoni called on opening bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohit Sharma to bowl the last two overs of the South African innings.
26 off of the last two overs
Duminy and David Miller made Dhoni pay for that decision, plundering 26 off those overs to take the Proteas to 172 for 4. Duminy finished undefeated on 45 off 40 deliveries, with three sixes, while Miller's cameo was 23 off 12 balls.
Ashwin led the Indian bowling attack with an excellent return of 3 for 22 in his four overs.
In reply, India got off to a flying start, making 33 runs off of the first three overs, bowled by JP Duminy, Albie Morkel and Dale Steyn. In the fourth over, however, they lost Rohit Sharma, caught by Du Plessis off Beuran Hendricks for a quickfire 24 off of 13 balls.
Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli then took the Indian total to 77 before Rahane was caught by De Villiers off the bowling of Parnell for 32 from 30 deliveries. Together they had added 38 in 5.4 overs.
Kohli and Yuvraj Singh advanced the score to 133 before De Villiers took a second catch, this time off of the bowling of Imran Tahir, to see Yuvraj depart for 18 off 17 balls.
The 17th over of the Indian innings proved to be crucial to their victory. Bowled by Parnell, it went for 17 runs, which include a wide, a six, and two fours, both from Suresh Raina, one of them a top edge and the other an inside edge.
When Steyn went for 13 in the 18th over, India were almost home on 163 for 3. South Africa, though, were not done yet and Hendricks had Raina caught by Du Plessis for 21 off of 10 balls with the total on 167. By then, though, the damage had been done.
Kohli duly took India to victory with a four off of the first ball of the final over and the Proteas' World Twenty20 challenge was over.