ADELAIDE: Record-breaking Virat Kohli said he “absolutely loves playing” at the Adelaide Oval Wednesday after his third unbeaten fifty in four T20 World Cup matches put India on the brink of the semi-finals.
Kohli’s well-paced 64 not out from 44 balls made him the highest run-scorer in Twenty20 World Cup history as India edged Bangladesh by five runs in a rain-hit encounter to go top of Group 2.
India are a point ahead of South Africa who play Pakistan on Thursday in Sydney. Pakistan must win both their last games to keep alive their slim hopes of reaching the final four.
India can clinch a semi-final spot with a win against Zimbabwe on Sunday after Bangladesh faltered in their rain-revised chase of 151 in 16 overs.
Zimbabwe’s interest in the semi-finals is all but over after they earlier lost by five wickets to the Netherlands, who won for the first time in the Super 12.
India opener KL Rahul got back into form with a 32-ball 50 at the top of the innings, but it was Kohli, coming to the crease at 11-1, who stole the show and the player of the match award as he guided his team to 184-6 off their 20 overs.
“As soon as I knew the World Cup was in Australia, I was grinning from ear to ear,” said Kohli who followed his incredible match-winning 82 not out against Pakistan in the opening match in Melbourne with another unbeaten fifty against the Netherlands in Sydney.
“I knew good cricketing shots would be the key,” said Kohli as he continued his love affair with the famous Adelaide ground where he scored his maiden Test century back in 2012.
The Indian maestro’s statistics at Adelaide since are astonishing.
When he captained India for the first time in Tests there in 2014, he celebrated by making centuries in both innings.
‘Meant to be’
“I absolutely love playing on this ground,” said Kohli. “Right from the nets at the back, as soon as I enter, it makes me feel at home.”
In Kohli’s only previous T20 international at the venue he scored an unbeaten 90 against Australia in 2016.
In 50-over games at Adelaide, Kohli made 107 against Pakistan in the 2015 World Cup and 104 against Australia in 2019.
“I said that knock at MCG (against Pakistan) was meant to be,” said Kohli. “But when I come here, it’s like I’m meant to come to Adelaide and enjoy my batting.”
Bangladesh had looked on course for an upset at 66-0 in their chase after only seven overs.
But then the rain came and after a 50-minute interruption, they soon lost Liton Das, who lost his footing on the slippery pitch, to a run-out for 60.
From 99-2 in the 12th over Bangladesh collapsed, losing four wickets for nine runs and despite a late flurry from Nurul Hasan (25 off 14 balls) and Taskin Ahmed (12 off 7) they came up short.
“It was a combination of both lack of experience and panicking,” admitted Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan.
“We don’t play too many close games, so sometimes when we are in that situation, we don’t know how to do it.”
In the first match of the double-header at the Adelaide Oval, Paul van Meekeren’s three wickets helped the already eliminated Netherlands claim their first victory of the T20 World Cup Super 12 stage.
The Dutch bowled out Zimbabwe for 117 in 19.2 overs and, led by Max O’Dowd’s 52, achieved their target by reaching 120-5 with 12 balls to spare.
It was disappointing for Zimbabwe, who had lit up the tournament with a shock one-run win over Pakistan.
They can still mathematically qualify for the last four but their fate looks sealed.
South Africa would need to lose their last two games by large margins and Zimbabwe thrash India on Sunday — and even then it may not be enough.
Zimbabwe coach Dave Houghton said his side’s exploits had “brought the game back to life” at home after some lean years for cricket fans in the African nation.
Houghton said he received messages telling him his side’s performances — they also beat Ireland and Scotland to qualify for the Super 12 — had brought smiles to Zimbabweans at home and around the world.
“They’ve enjoyed the fact that we are able to come out and stand toe-to-toe with some of the best,” said Houghton.
“So you know I said to the guys after the game: ‘You guys have brought the game back to life in Zimbabwe’.”
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