Brilliant Kohli and Iyer tons lift India to 397/4

Virat Kohli became the first man in the history of One Day International cricket to score 50 centuries in the format as India’s relentless number three helped the team put together a first-innings score of 397/4 in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 semi-final against New Zealand.

Kohli’s classy century built on a blistering start from the Indian openers, as the tournament hosts got off to a flier in Mumbai.

With wickets in hand and plenty of power to come, India were eyeing a huge score even once Kohli departed for 117. And Shreyas Iyer’s own stunning hundred helped them set the biggest-ever total in a Men’s Cricket World Cup semi-final, bringing up his ton off 67 balls.

Mitchell Santner’s 1/51 were the pick the returns for the Kiwis, with Tim Southee taking three of the four wickets to fall but finishing with expensive figures of 3/100. New Zealand require something special to chase down 397.

Semi-final 1: India 397/4 (50 overs) v New Zealand

Rohit Sharma backed his own call by putting his foot on the pedal early on in the innings. He took on Trent Boult in the very first over with a couple of streaky fours. There wasn’t much with Boult’s lines in his opening over, but Rohit went in with the intent of taking quick runs.

This continued in the following overs, as Rohit kept going for his shots even as Shubman Gill gave him decent support. With his third six of the innings, Rohit crossed Chris Gayle as the batter with the most sixes in the history of the Cricket World Cup.

India kept going at an aggressive pace in the first 10 overs, before Rohit lofted a slower ball from Tim Southee high in the air over mid-off, where his opposite number, Kane Williamson, ran backward and took a stunning catch.

Gill found good support in Virat Kohli and the duo kept going at a brisk pace. After Rohit’s fall, Gill unleashed some exquisite shots to keep the run rate going.

India had already reached 150 by the end of the 20th over. During this stand, Kohli became the third-highest run-getter in the history of ODIs. New Zealand seemed to be without answers, till Gill picked up cramps in the 23rd over and had to leave the pitch, unbeaten on 79.

However, functioning like an automaton, the India batting lineup kept churning out runs. Newcomer Shreyas Iyer was soon among the runs. He unleashed a couple of big hits against Rachin Ravindra in the 27th over. Kohli reached his half-century, a first-ever for him in a World Cup knockout game, in the same over.

The batter opened his arms with an exceptional bottom-handed lofted six against Tim Southee over the leg-side in the 30th over. During the 34th over, he reached 674 runs in this edition of the World Cup. This helped him go one better over Sachin Tendulkar’s 673 at the 2003 World Cup, which was the record for the most runs in a single edition of the tournament.

The duo added 100 runs off merely 79 balls. After taking 17 runs off Boult in the 36th over, India’s innings slowed down a bit. A contributing factor was that Kohli was beginning to suffer from hamstring cramp.

The slower period of scoring continued as Kohli recovered and accumulated his way towards three figures. And the historic moment came with a two of Lockie Ferguson, with Kohli celebrating his record-breaking moment in style.

Kohli opened his arms after reaching three figures, racing through the gears before departing to Southee for 117 from 113 balls to a standing ovation.

But, the excellent Iyer continued the momentum into the death overs as India turned their focus to a big-scoring finish.

Iyer’s hundred came off 67 balls, the third quickest by an Indian man at a Cricket World Cup, with eight of his 12 boundaries being sixes before he departed for 105 to Boult.

Earlier, Rohit Sharma won the toss and elected to bat first in Mumbai. He believed that India would look to manage the controllable and give their best.

Both sides were unchanged ahead of the semi-final.

India’s campaign in their home Cricket World Cup has been a flawless run. Almost every player in the setup has contributed and the side has gone from strength to strength in the tournament. The top-order is firing big, and is backed up by an equally adept middle-order.

Pacers and spinners alike are bossing the conditions. It seems like Rohit’s mantra of living in the present, is working quite well for the side.

However, they are up against their bogey side, New Zealand, a team which has more often than not come out on top against the Men in Blue in ICC events. This was also true for their previous meeting at a Cricket World Cup knockout game, wherein New Zealand denied India in a nail-biting classic, with Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni’s fightback proving not quite enough to deny the Kiwis a spot in the final.

It’s been a mixed run for New Zealand in this World Cup. Rattled by injures even before the tournament started, their initial run wasn’t impacted by the chop-and-change in their personnel. However, the side lost to India in Dharamsala and then entered a rut, losing four games in a row. They overturned that with a confident win against Sri Lanka, a victory that helped them qualify for the knockout stage.

The onus is on their big stars to shine in an all-important clash against the undefeated tournament hosts.

Playing XIs

India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami,  Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj.

New Zealand: Devon Conway, Rachin Ravindra, Kane Williamson (c), Daryl Mitchell, Tom Latham (wk), Glenn Phillips, Mark Chapman, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult.

Source – ICC

– Agencies 

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