India roars into the final of CWC23 after Kohli and Shami’s heroics see off New Zealand

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Mohammad Shami says I was waiting for my chances; I didn't play a lot of white-ball cricket and my return started against New Zealand (in Dharamsala)

India took 110 off the final 10 overs and registered 397-4 at the end of the innings while in the end, Shami took three well-deserved wickets, making history by being the fastest player to reach 50 wickets in a World Cup, reaching the most five-fors, and best figures for India in the competition.

India had won the toss and decided to bat first. Trent Boult was around the wicket as early as the third over, indicating that the fast bowlers should not move. 

After Boult delivered his opening ball from that angle, Rohit danced down the wicket and lofted his first six of the day over mid-off. In his short innings, he would add three more to break Chris Gayle’s records for the most World Cup sixes (49) and most in a single World Cup (26).

The Indian top five currently average higher than any side in a single World Cup, but their greatest accomplishment has been adhering to their assigned duties. 

Rohit’s role has been to maximize; Shuman Gill and Kohli can handle accumulation. No one cares about Rohit’s score. Tim Southee’s slower ball undid him when he attempted a fifth six, falling on 47.

Gill, the successor apparent to Virat Kohli, assumed the role of the aggressor to free up Kohli to focus on his role, twelve years after Kohli had carried Tendulkar on his shoulders to thank him for leading the team. 

Given Kohli’s ability to accelerate, 29 off 39 is not a bad start, but Gill also added 59 off 45 at the same moment, so these are merely relative terms at this point. Though a century was up for grabs, Gill retired hurt, seemingly due to cramping, most likely to avoid risking his spot in the championship match.

But this retirement was like throwing caution to the wind for New Zealand. Rachin Ravindra was taken down by Iyer after just six sighters thanks to his fierce and deft batting. 

Kohli also started to step up his game in the second half of the inning. He pursued Southee and Boult, the two quicks who were returning. Iyer ensured that the part-timers had to be removed from the attack.

With KL Rahul’s 39 off 20 adding the final touches, India took 110 off the final 10 overs. It was surprising to see how many runs India would require at that stage, which emphasizes the significance of Rohit’s every start and the new team management’s insistence on it.

The sort of beginning for Jasprit Bumrah that demonstrates he is human: Plenty of width, five wides, and 22 runs in three overs. First change Shami, however, proved to be the worst for the batters. He played around the wicket immediately after, nibbling at it just enough to have the two left-hand openers caught at the wicket in his first two overs.

In case there was more dew later, it allowed India some relief and the liberty to present Ravindra Jadeja early. Mitchell, astonishingly, maintained hammering the ball down the ground, including the biggest six of the tournament, even after both of the spinners took a turn off the pitch. 

Mitchell and Kane Williamson made 181 for the third wicket; faces became strained; a catch was dropped; a possible run-out was missed as Rahul broke the wicket prematurely; and the meetings continued. Things had become serious when Mitchell drove the returning Bumrah off-road for six.

However, Shami came back with a double-strike: first, a slower ball that Williamson caught at deep square leg, and then a brilliant seam to hit Tom Latham’s knee roll with the second ball. India may return to using spinners now that Glenn Phillips is in and increase the asking rate pressure. By the 37th over, it was past 12 and New Zealand was losing the battle because Mitchell was cramping and India was cleverly keeping the ball out of his reach.

In the end, Shami returned to take three well-deserved wickets, making history by being the fastest player to reach 50 wickets in a World Cup, reaching the most five-fors, and best figures for India in the competition.

Rohit Sharma:

“I’ve played a lot of cricket here, any score on this ground, you can’t 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 but glad we could get the job done. It’s hard to say if we would’ve been in trouble [had India scored 30-40 less]. They wouldn’t have taken those risks. Williamson and Mitchell batted brilliantly. Was important for us to stay calm. The crowd went silent, but we knew we needed a catch or run out. Shami was brilliant. The form all the guys are in, top five-six batters, whenever they’ve gotten an opportunity, they’ve made it count. Very pleased to see what Iyer has done for us this tournament. Gill, the way he’s batted for us has been brilliant. Unfortunately, he had to go off with cramps. Kohli did what he does, also got to his landmark century as well. England game we got 230 on the board, The way bowlers bowled with the new ball was amazing. Today obviously being the semifinal, won’t say there was no pressure, whenever you play there’s 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.”

Kane Williamson:

“Firstly, congrats to India, they played outstandingly well, probably their best game today. 400 was naturally going to be tough but credit to the guys, a proud effort to stay in the fight. 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 a top class and has world-class batters who didn’t give us a sniff. 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. We had some incredible contributions, and as a team, there was a real commitment to the cricket we wanted to play, Rachin and Mitchell were special throughout the campaign, on varied surfaces. They played really, really well. Bowlers chipped in, a lot of fight, proud of that. Even if it didn’t go our way, ultimately moving forward as a team, we’ve taken some really good steps in the right direction.”

Mohammed Shami, the Player of the Match:

“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. 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]. The wicket was very good, lots of runs were scored in the afternoon. There was some fear of dew, the grass had been shaved off from the wicket. If dew was there, it skids on and there’s a chance runs could’ve been made. It feels amazing [this kind of performance]. Last two World Cups, we lost [in the semifinals]. Who knows when or if we’ll get a chance, so we wanted to do everything for this, one chance we didn’t want to let go.”