On a day when Virat Kohli became the first-ever cricketer to score 50 ODI centuries – surpassing Sachin Tendulkar’s record in his backyard, with the legend in attendance to witness the transcendence, and on a night when Mohammed Shami became the first-ever Indian to pick seven wickets in cricket’s most prestigious competition – the ICC ODI World Cup, team India ensured they reached the final hurdle in their mission to be crowned as the three-time world champions, come the end of this week.
Against New Zealand in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, Rohit Sharma’s team secured a 70-run triumph in the first semi-final. After posting a humongous total of 397 runs whilst batting first, India bowled New Zealand out for 327.
Wickets Aplenty for Shami. Again.
Chasing a target of 398 runs, which looked steeper than anything the Norgays and Hillarys have ever stepped foot on, New Zealand chose to make their task more difficult by losing both openers – Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra – inside the first eight overs.
At that stage, not many would have batted an eyelid had the Blackcaps emulated a pack of cards collapsing. But among that pack were a couple of aces, in Kane Williamson and Daryl Mitchell, who propelled New Zealand’s innings to a zone of competition.
Albeit the odds were always stacked against them, the Kiwis were very much in the hunt till the 32nd over, before Mohammed Shami dismissed Williamson on 69 in the next over. A couple of deliveries later, he trapped Tom Latham leg before wicket to complete a four-wicket haul.
Even with the required run rate being over 13 runs per over, déjà vu prevented the Indian fans from celebrating. The other factor which prevented early celebrations was Mitchell, who scored 134 runs in 119 deliveries.
Glenn Phillips did try to play a part, and scored 41 runs in the process, but fell prey to Jasprit Bumrah in the 43rd over. Mark Chapman’s departure in the next over was barely noticeable in a game where plenty happened, but that of Mitchell – in the 46th over, off Shami’s bowling – certainly was.
It triggered widespread euphoria, as the pacer scripted history with his fourth fifer in ODI World Cups, and subsequently all but sealed a victory for his team. Ultimately, the Kiwis could score only 327, before being bowled out in the penultimate delivery of the penultimate over.
Kohli Breaks Records. Again.
Earlier, opting to bat first on a used surface, which emerged as a significant subplot in the game, India had the start they would have dreamt last night. Courtesy of Rohit Sharma’s aggressive batting, as if to stadium belongs to him – which it does, to some extent, considering he grew up in Mumbai – India managed to score their first 50 runs in only 32 deliveries.
Rohit was dismissed in the ninth over when he was only three runs shy of completing a personal milestone of 56 ODI half-centuries, but the milestones arrived soon after.
Shubman Gill did score a fifty, and then added 30 runs more to his and his team’s cause, before falling prey to cramps. But at the other end, Virat Kohli kept on going, and going, till the time he found no one in front of him. Not even Sachin Tendulkar.
His final score was 117 runs from 113 deliveries.
Shreyas Iyer was India’s second centurion, who might be 45 centuries away from Kohli’s tally in ODIs, but played an equally impressive knock of 105 runs in 70 deliveries.
The final touches were applied by KL Rahul, who had all but 20 deliveries to make his mark, but did so effectively, by scoring 39 runs.