In a sensational display of cricket, India makes a statement of its march to the final of the ICC World Cup 2023, defeating New Zealand by 70 runs in a thrilling semifinal at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday.
Virat Kohli’s landmark 50th ODI century and Mohammed Shami’s remarkable seven-wicket haul were the cornerstones of India’s emphatic victory.
The Wankhede Stadium, known for its electrifying atmosphere, was treated to a ‘Virat’ show as Kohli, following a blazing start by the Indian openers, scored a commanding 117 runs.
His century, coupled with Shreyas Iyer’s ton, propelled India to a formidable total of 397/4. New Zealand’s bowler Tim Southee faced the brunt of their assault, conceding 100 runs for his three wickets.
Shreyas Iyer became the first middle-order batter to smash 500 runs or more in a single edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup, It was his second successive century in the tournament.
Iyer said to Star Sports.
“Rohit sets the template, gives us the starts where we have to just go and carry forward from the base he gives. He is a fearless captain. You can see that in his body language and it’s kind of infectious, rubs off on all the players.”
On the backing from the management: “It is pivotal, coming from the captain and coach. I did not have a great start to the World Cup. They told me not to worry about the outside noise, we are backing you, so you just got to go out there and express yourself.”
About handling pressure: “To be honest, in pressure situations, you tend to get nervous but at the same time it is also fun playing in front of so many people and if you perform they lift you up. (How intense are the net sessions given the quality of the bowling attack) It is definitely intense. We see to it that we play the most difficult bowler. Whenever Bumrah comes with the new ball I face him because you know it’s going to be difficult and it helps you for the matches.”
Facing a mountainous target, New Zealand began their chase with an aggressive approach. Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra looked to counter-attack in the powerplay, but their efforts were quickly stifled by Shami, who dismissed both openers for 13 runs each. The back-to-back setbacks shifted the momentum in India’s favour.
Indian captain Rohit Sharma in the post-match presentation said,
“I have played a lot of cricket here, any score on this ground, you cannot relax. Got to get the job done quickly and stay at it. We knew there would be pressure on us. We were very calm, even though we were a bit sloppy on the field.
These things are bound to happen (the partnership between Mitchell and Kane) but glad we could get the job done.”
He further added,
“Kohli did what he does, also got to his landmark century as well. England game we got 230 on the board, way bowlers bowled with the new ball was amazing. Today obviously being the semifinal, would not say there was no pressure, whenever you play there is pressure. Semifinal adds a bit extra, we wanted to not think too much about it, just do what we’ve been doing like in the first nine games. Things came off for us nicely in the second half.”
Despite the early blows, Daryl Mitchell’s resilient 134 and Kane Williamson’s solid 69 offered the Black Caps a glimmer of hope. The duo stitched together a partnership of 181 runs, keeping the dream alive for the New Zealand side.
However, India’s bowlers were relentless. Shami reintroduced into the attack and removed Williamson and later Tom Latham, halting the Black Caps’ resurgence.
“I was waiting for my chances. I didn’t play a lot of white-ball cricket. My return started against New Zealand [in Dharamsala]. We talk a lot of variations, but I still believe in pitching it up and getting wickets with the new ball,”Shami said in a post-match presentation.
Shami dropped in-form New Zealand captain Kane Williamson’s catch, which could have been a major talking point, but he quickly returned and sent the Kiwi skipper packing.
“I dropped Williamson’s catch, I shouldn’t have. I felt terrible. But the focus was to try and take pace off, see if they’re hitting it in the air. It was a chance we had to take [with the variations],”he added.
As the match progressed, Ravindra Jadeja’s brilliance in the field shone through. He took spectacular catches to dismiss Glenn Phillips and Mark Chapman, tipping the scales further in India’s favour. New Zealand’s challenge seemed to fizzle out as they lost wickets at regular intervals.
The final blow to New Zealand’s aspirations came when Jadeja completed a hat-trick of catches to dismiss the centurion Mitchell, with Shami claiming his fifth wicket of the match.
The pacer wasn’t done yet; he returned to take two more wickets, completing a seven-wicket haul, becoming the leading wicket-taker of the tournament, and sealing the deal for India.
India’s victory was a showcase of both batting prowess and bowling finesse, setting them on the path to their first ODI World Cup final appearance since 2011, and maintaining their unbeaten streak in the tournament.
New Zealand Captain Ken Williamson credited the Rohit Sharma-led India for outplaying his side.
“Firstly, congrats to India. They have played great cricket throughout. They played their best game today. They are a top side and played top cricket. Credit to the guys. Proud of the guys to stay in the fight,”Williamson said in a post-match presentation.
New Zealand were outstanding in the first part of the competition, but then they faltered, and they were defeated by teams like India, Australia, and South Africa – all three of which are in the semifinals.
Williamson stated that he was disappointed after suffering a 70-run loss to India. New Zealand captain said hosts didn’t give Kiwis ‘a sniff’ as they fell short chasing down 398 in the WC semis.
“Disappointing to go out but super proud of the effort that’s gone in for the last seven weeks. The effort was there, but like I said India is top-class and has world-class batters who didn’t give us a sniff really. You come in and get 400, it’s a tick in the box. They deserve to be where they are, played outstandingly well.”
“It wasn’t to be today but nice to be out there to give ourselves a chance. It was a fantastic crowd, unbelievable atmosphere, slightly one-sided in the support but special to be part of the tournament, great to be hosted here by India,” he concluded.
Fans around the world are now keenly anticipating a spectacular final on Sunday, where India will seek to lift the trophy once again.
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