Mumbai: Mohammed Shami’s double-wicket fifth over at a time when New Zealand were cantering at 220/2 in chase of 398 with Kane Williamson and Daryll Mitchell rooted to the crease in a 181-run stand, is what turned the first semi-final of the ICC World Cup in Indian cricket team’s favour at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday.
India had hammered 397 in their allotted 50 overs, the highest-ever score in a World Cup knockout stage, with Virat Kohli (117 off 113 balls) getting a world record 50th One-day International century and Shreyas Iyer (105 off 70 balls) also chipping in with a hundred. Shubman Gill scored 80 not out after being retired hurt while Rohit Sharma pressed the early accelerator with a 29-ball 47. They left New Zealand’s premium pacemen Trent Boult (1/86) and Tim Southee (3/100) as the most expensive on a pitch that had nothing for the bowlers.
The score had looked sufficient after Shami provided the early wickets, getting rid of both the openers to leave the Kiwis tottering at 39/2.
But then Williamson (69 off 73 balls) and Mitchell (134 off 119) parried, rotating the strike and finding boundaries. The two took New Zealand to an equation where T20 cricket-style batting should have got them home. Mitchell, also a power hitter, was at the crease and there were the likes of Glenn Phillips and Mark Chapman to come.
The crowd at the Wankhede was partisan as expected but they didn’t create the noise to the degree fans at other venues did to unnerve the opposition.
The Kiwis were rolling on.
The frustration of not finding a wicket for over 24 overs, something the Indians haven’t encountered in this tournament, showed as left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, otherwise quite relaxed and composed, threw the ball at the batsman and past the wicket-keeper KL Rahul for four overthrow runs. This was after he had bowled well in that over, conceding just three in the first five balls.
India also misfielded, dropped a catch through Shami and missed a run-out as a harried Rahul removed the bails with his gloves before the ball could.
Jasprit Bumrah, who is always accurate, couldn’t control the new ball and conceded nine runs in wide in his first spell.
As a result, New Zealand had gone neck-and-neck; at the end of 30 overs, they were 199/2, not far from India’s 214/1 at the same stage.
However, come the 33rd over and Shami got Williamson caught at the boundary as the NZ skipper tried to clear the boundary with a flick shot. A couple of balls later, he pinned Tom Latham to have him leg-before the wicket for a duck.
A 75-run partnership off 61 balls between Mitchell and Phillips (41) ensued but as the required run-rate crept up and moved close to 14, Phillips opened his shoulders to clear Bumrah’s delivery over extra cover but found Jadeja in the deep.
Shami then returned and mopped the tail, ending with 7/57, India’s best-ever spell in a World Cup match, as the Kiwis were dismissed for 327 in 48.5 overs, 70 runs short of home team’s total.
India now move to Ahmedabad to play in the final on November 19 against the winner of the second semi-final between Australia and South Africa in Kolkata on Thursday.
Brief scores: India 397/4 in 50 overs (Virat Kohli 117, Shreyas Iyer 105, Shubman Gill 80 not out, Tim Southee 3/100) beat New Zealand 327 all out in 48.5 overs (Daryl Mitchell 134, Kane Williamson 69, Glenn Phillips 41, Mohammed Shami 7/57, Jasprit Bumrah 1/64, Kuldeep Yadav 1/56, Mohammed Siraj 1/78)