Chase-master Virat, resurgent Shami keep India’s unbeaten tag intact

By BD Naraayannkar

Dharamsala, (UNI) Chase-master Virat Kohli’s fantastic 95 amd comeback man Mohammad Shami’s five-fer guided India to a 4 wickets victory over New Zealand in the 21st match of the ICC Men’s World Cup at Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium here on Sunday.

With this victory, India tops the points table with 10 points from five games, while New Zealand climbed down to the second position.

This victory also was iconic with India beating the Kiwis in the World Cup after a gap of 20 years.

After Shami reduced New Zealand to 273 all out with 5/54, Virat was an emblem of patience after he stood witness to wickets falling before his eyes.

Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, and KL Rahul got starts, but none of them scored big. Kohli dropped anchor, and kept milking runs to get India closer to the target. Suryakumar Yadav, who made his World Cup debut, was unfortunately run-out for 2 due to poor calling.

Yet, Kohli continued with absolute calmness and Ravindra Jadeja was a perfect foil for the former India captain.

Jadeja (39*) paced his innings beautifully and took India home with 12 balls to spare, at a time when there were doubts over his batting, though he has been in sublime form.

Go-to-men Trent Boult and Matt Henry are the ones who usually give early wickets for New Zealand, but today they were off colour, despite they teased the edges of India openers.

Pacer Lokie Ferguson did bag two wickets, but they were soft dismissals. He had Rohit and Gill in his kitty.

Rohit and Gill started off beautifully with another fabulous opening wicket stand spiced up by a string of boundaries. Content to play second fiddle to his captain, Gill became the fastest batsman to reach 2,000 runs in Men’s ODIs as India reached 63/0 in 10 overs.

Kiwi pacer Lockie Ferguson held back India’s run flow by removing Rohit and Gill for 46 and 26, respectively.

The match was halted for a brief period after the fog clouded the ambience. Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer resumed the chase after the fog cleared.

Trent Boult brought the game alive for New Zealand by removing Iyer for 33. After Kohli brough India within 100 runs of their target, KL Rahul departed for 27, leaving India with one specialist batsman Suryakumar Yadav with plenty of work still to do in the chase.

Suryakumar Yadav’s debut World Cup match ended prematurely, run out for 2.

The fans could have left even happier, but not so after Virat fell short of 49th ODI century, a feat the great Sachin Tendulkar achieved.

Earlier, Shami led India’s fight back to reduce New Zealand to 273 all out as he picked up five wickets for 54 runs in his very first match this world cup.

Courtesy Shami, India struck back in the final Powerplay and reduced New Zealand from 243/4 to 273 all out.

New Zealand’s innings was headlined by Daryl Mitchell and Rachin Ravindra’s 159 runs partnership for the third wicket.

Mitchell scored a fabulous 130 off 127 balls with 9 boundaries and 5 sixes, while Rachin scored 75 off 87 balls with 6 boundaries and a six.

The duo dug in after New Zealand were in the spot of bother at 19/2 in ninth over. No other New Zealand batsmen made any statement with the bat.

India’s fast bowlers were on the dot by using uneven bounce early on and Devon Conway struggled to get runs, and he tried to unshackle himself, but was holed out at leg side by a diving Shreyas Iyer off Mohammed Siraj.

New Zealand received yet another jolt when Will Young (17) was castled off the very first ball of Shami who was playing his first match of this world cup.

Mitchell and Rachin soon cut loose, but the latter was very lucky to have got a lifeline in the 11th over when Ravindra Jadeja dropped him on 12 off Shami.

The duo took off in Kuldeep Yadav’s second over, taking 16 runs off him, and soon brought their 100-run stand to more than run a ball.

Shami struck back in the 34th over by removing Rachin caught at long-on. Kuldeep bowled his second spell very well, though he was taken for runs by Mitchell. He also suffered a dropped catch in the 33rd over, but eventually grabbed Tom Latham’s wicket, trapping him plumb in front.

New Zealand added 38 runs for the fifth wicket, with Glenn Phillips providing a good supporting hand to Mitchell.

Phillips eventually fell to Kuldeep in the 45th over while trying to slog out of the park, but it hovered around the covers where three India fielders converged. Skipper Rohit Sharma kept his eyes on the ball and completed the catch.

Shami’s double strike in the 48th over further dented the hopes of a New Zealand late-order surge. He yorked Mitchell Santner and Matt Henry off back-to-back deliveries.

Brief scores: New Zealand 273 all out in 50 overs (Daryl Mitchell 130, Rachin Ravindra 75; Mohammed Shami 5-54, Kuldeep Yadav 2-73) lost to India 274/6 in 48 overs (Virat Kohli 95, Rohit Sharma 46; Lockie Ferguson 2-63) by 4 wickets.

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