International Cricket

Virat Kohli retires from T20 internationals after winning World Cup title

Virat Kohli has ended his T20 international career with a World Cup trophy, making the announcement shortly after India clinched their second T20 World Cup title in Barbados.

“This was my last T20 World Cup and this is exactly what we wanted to achieve,” Kohli said after winning the Player-of-the-Match award for his 59-ball 76 in India’s seven-run victory against South Africa in a thrilling finish. “This is an amazing game, I was telling Rohit today when we went out to bat that one day you feel like you can’t get a run, and then you come out and things happen. God is great. I bow my head in gratitude. I’m really grateful was able to get the job done for the team when it mattered the most.

“This is my last T20 game playing for India, my last World Cup I was going to play,” Kohli added. “I wanted to make the most of it. And this was our aim. We wanted to win an ICC tournament, we wanted to lift the cup. As I said, it was the occasion that helped me put my head down and respect the situation rather than trying to force things out there, and play the game my team wanted me to play.

“Yes, I have. This was an open secret, it was not something that I was not going to announce if we’d lost,” Kohli said when asked to confirm he was retiring. “This was going to be my last T20 World Cup playing for India, it’s time for the next generation to take over. Two-year cycle, there are some amazing players playing in India, they’re going to take the team forward in the T20 format, and do wonders as we’ve seen them do in the IPL. I’ve no doubts they’ll keep the flag waving high, and really take this team further from here now.”

India had just won their first World Cup since the ODI edition in 2011, which incidentally was Kohli’s first World Cup. He said it would take a while for the feeling to sink in.

“Look, it’s been a long wait for us, waiting to win an ICC tournament,” he said. “It’s not just me alone, you look at someone like Rohit [Sharma, the captain] as well. He’s played nine T20 World Cups, this is my sixth. So he deserves it as much as anyone else in the squad, we’re just happy we were able to get the job done, and really it’s hard to explain the emotions I felt after the game, I knew what kind of mindset I was in. I wasn’t really confident in the last few games, I wasn’t feeling really good out there, but when god has to bless you with something, he blesses you in ways you can’t imagine. That’s why I’m very grateful and humbled right now and I bow my head.

“It’s really difficult to hold things back, it’s going to sink in a little later, and the emotions are going to come to the surface a little later more, but it’s just an amazing day, I couldn’t be more thankful.

Kohli ended his 125-match T20I career as India’s second-highest run-scorer [behind Rohit] in the format – 4188 at an average of 48.69 and strike rate of 137.04. He had endured a difficult T20 World Cup up until the semi-final – scoring only 75 runs in seven innings before he made 76 off 59 balls in the final.

“To be honest, I couldn’t have imagined this in my wildest dreams, also considering how my tournament had gone so far,” Kohli said while speaking to Star Sports. “Great lesson for me, really humbled by the game big time. Put my head down and ego on the side. If you think you are everything and can do wonders, you are nothing. You really have to put your head down, and respect the situation. And God showed me that if you get too ahead of yourself, then I will pull you back and I will keep you in your spot.

“Today I just felt different. I was more anchored, more in-sync with the situation. And I was given the composure to just put aside everything that had gone on till now. You are a senior player and people look at you to contribute and to win a World Cup. Rohit and I have spoken many times previously that before we go, we need to win in this format. You can’t imagine these things in your wildest dreams.”

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