WC Semis: Record-breaking Kohli, consistent Gill fire India to 397/4

Mumbai, Nov 15 (UNI) Virat Kohli record-breaking century and Shreyas Iyer back-to-back hundred fired India to 397/4 against New Zealand in the first semifinals of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup at Wankhede Stadium here on Wednesday.

Kohli became the first batsman in ODI history to score 50 centuries, surpassing his icon Sachin Tendulakar’s record of 49 centuries in this format. His classy century came off after a blazing start given by openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill. And, Iyer (105) brought up his ton from 67 balls.

Rohit backed his instincts and took on Trent Boult in his very first over by tonking a couple of streaky boundaries and clearly signalling his intent of making quick runs.

The India captain motored on in following overs too as he went after the Kiwi bowlers along with Gill, who batted with a decent intent. He went past Chris Gayle’s record of the most sixes in the history of the Cricket World Cup after getting his third maximum of the innings.

Unfortunately, Rohit fell three short of a half century after he lifted a slower ball from Tim Southee high in the air, where captain Kane Williamson ran backward to take a terrific catch.

Finding a good partner in Kohli, Gill kept the run rate going with some exquisite shots and helped India reach 150 by the end of 20th over, besides becoming the third-highest run-getter in ODI history.

As India chugged along at a good pace, Kiwi bowlers could not check the Indian batsmen, until Gill (79 off 65 8x4s 3x6s) was adjudged absent hurt after he picked up cramps.

As soon as Shreyas Iyer walked in, he was among the runs and uncorked a couple of big shots against Rachin Ravindra. Kohli notched up his first fifty in a World Cup knockout game, in the same over. He lifted Southee over legside for a six as India kept steaming up runs 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.

Iyer and Kohli added 100 runs off just 79 balls, but India’s innings tempered down as the former captain was closing in for his record ODI century and starting to suffer from a hamstring cramp.

Recovering from it, Kohli milked through and reached his record-breaking milestone by taking two off Lockie Ferguson. 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.

Both sides were unchanged ahead of the semi-final.

Brief Scores: India 397/4 in 50 overs (Virat Kohli 117, Shreyas Iyer 105, Shubman Gill 80; Tim Southee 3-100) vs New Zealand.

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