How India defeated NZ: Explosive batting combines with efficient bowling
Mumbai: India’s inexorable march to the World Cup final with a 70-run waltz over New Zealand here on Wednesday carried all the traits of the template that they have set for themselves in the marquee event.
The force performance was garnished by Virat Kohli’s record-breaking 50th hundred, Shreyas Iyer’s fiery ton, on-the-money bowling by Mohammed Shami and excellent fielding.
Let’s dive deep into those factors:
This is not precisely a part of the template. But it aligned more with captain Rohit Sharma’s pre-tournament desire to see a bit of fortune going their way in big events.
There is no gainsaying what would have happened if India chased considering their current form, but winning the toss indeed gave them an edge, a chance to set the target in a high-pressure match. They exploited that slice of luck to the hilt, posting an imposing 397 for 4.
- The Rohit-Gill storm
Rohit and Gill have shared a 100-run stand with four 50-plus stands, including the 71 in 8.1 overs on this day, in 10 matches. Those numbers actually do not do justice to the impact these two batters have made on India’s run in the tournament.
Here, they blunted the Kiwis’ new ball pair of Trent Boult and Tim Southee before defanging express pacer Lockie Ferguson. Their race off the block might have eased any nerves in the Indian camp on a big occasion, besides laying a solid foundation for a middle-order charge.
- ‘King’ Kohli digs deep
At 35, Kohli is no longer at the peak of his youth. Fifteen summers have taken its toll, but his near-superhuman fitness keeps the man going. His hundred on the day was a tribute to his endurance, the mindset to soak in pressure, conditions, opponents and occasion.
It allowed Shreyas Iyer to bat around him with freedom, brave in the knowledge that an immovable force is at the other end.
Their 163-run partnership for the second wicket, after Gill retired hurt, ensured that India did not lose the momentum Rohit provided.
- Iyer blooms
His talent was never in question, and the right-hander has given a few manifestations of it too in the past. But this day, he conquered a big moment the World Cup semifinals against an opponent who had beaten India more than once in the past in global events with a 67-ball hundred.
Iyer’s knock was a vindication of the faith head coach Rahul Dravid showed on him while lauding his temperament. Iyer batted in one-gear throughout his innings, pummelling the New Zealand bowlers with shots all around the park.
- The Shami show
Shami is a marvellous sight smooth run-up, flowing action and follow-through. But all of these only conceals the malevolence that he is capable of with the ball.
He showed that against NZ with a seven-wicket haul. The pacer got rid of dangerous openers Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra early in the innings. But New Zealand found some wind on their sail through a 181-run stand between captain Kane Williamson (69) and centurion Daryl Mitchell.
India needed a wicket to break the momentum and Shami, in fact, gave two. He ousted Williamson and Tom Latham in successive balls in the 33rd over to hamper the Black Caps. In the process, he also completed 50 wickets in the World Cup.
- NZ in Kul-‘deep’ trouble
Mitchell and Glenn Phillips were mounting a fightback, and the latter had extracted 20 runs off Mohammed Siraj, who bowled the 41st over. India needed a tight over to pile a bit more pressure on the Kiwis, and Kuldeep provided just that.
The left-arm wrist spinner gave away just two runs in the 42nd over, forcing the Kiwi batters to take risk against Jasprit Bumrah. Bumrah promptly got the wicket of Phillips in the next over (43rd).
In his next over, 44th of the innings, Kuldeep dismissed Mark Chapman to complete a fine spell.
- Jadeja catches it all
In a high-pressure match, fielders can often make mistakes. But not Ravindra Jadeja. His safe pair of hands gobbled up offerings from Mitchell, Phillips and Mark Chapman at death overs, supporting his colleagues in the bowling unit to the hilt.