Proteas captain Aiden Markram hails 'special feeling' ahead of maiden T20 World Cup final

Proteas captain Aiden Markram hails 'special feeling' ahead of maiden T20 World Cup final

India and South Africa are competing to rewrite their stories in a titanic T20 World Cup final, as the tournament's two unbeaten teams go head to head at the Kensington Oval.

There can be no doubt that the best sides in the competition have made it to Saturday's showpiece in Barbados, with both boasting perfect records to outlast the pack.

The Proteas have won eight from eight, sometimes by tighter margins than they would like, while only a washout against Canada has held up a star-studded India squad's onward march over the past month.

But both sides are looking to shake off an unwanted reputation. South Africa are into the final for the first time ever, overcoming a litany of near misses, as they look to banish the cruel tag of â˜chokers' for good. India, meanwhile, have a golden generation that is conspicuously light on silverware.

Since winning the Champions Trophy in 2013 they have repeatedly failed to turn their vast resources â- in both financial muscle and personnel â- into trophies.

In the past decade, they have finished as runners-up five times across three formats, coming up short in the 2014's T20 World Cup, the 2017 Champions Trophy, last year's 50-over World Cup on home soil and two World Test Championship finals.

There are two unwanted narratives but only one can fall.

South Africa captain Aiden Markram has gone further than illustrious predecessors like Hansie Cronje, Shaun Pollock, Graeme Smith, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis ever did, but he insists their efforts echo even now within his own side.

"There has been a lot of support from back from past players which is very special for us as a group, these are the guys who inspired us when we were young," he said.

"To be making them proud and to have their support means a hell of a lot to us as a team. I don't see it as just me who has got us in this position, it's a squad effort. We have been on a journey and now that journey has got us here to our first final.

"It is a proud and special feeling, not just for me, but for everyone here."

For India head coach Rahul Dravid, who leads his country for the final time and hopes to sign off in style, the message is to stay in the present and move on from past failures.

Just seven months ago his side were defeated in front of 100,000 Indian fans in Ahmedabad, stumbling at the last hurdle having established themselves as front-runners over seven long weeks.

"I don't think players go in keeping the baggage of the past and what has happened before," he said

"Every day is a fresh day and players are very good at moving on from things. Just as we will move on from Ahmedabad, I'm sure South African will not be thinking about history and it will be a fresh day.

"I think that everyone will agree that probably the top two teams in this tournament, who played the best cricket, are South Africa and India. They have as much right to win it as we do but we hope that we will play better cricket on the day."

India boast one of the tournament's standout batters in captain Rohit Sharma, who needs 34 runs to become the top run-scorer, while their attack is led by the incomparable Jasprit Bumrah and his impeccable economy rate of 4.12 an over.

South Africa have spread the work more evenly, but rely on the pace pair of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje to disquiet opposition batters and rarely lose when Quinton de Kock cuts loose in the powerplay overs, as England found out their peril in St Lucia.

READ MORE: 'Nothing to be scared of': Markram says Proteas must embrace first T20 World Cup final