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Kohli and Shami star as India beat New Zealand to maintain perfect start

Virat Kohli’s excellent 95 steered India to victory in their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup encounter against New Zealand.

A fascinating tussle between the two teams at the top of the table was settled by the chase-master Kohli, who marshalled his team to their target of 274 to win in a match that had earlier been halted by descending fog in Dharamsala.

Having been put in to bat, the New Zealand top order looked set for a big total, with Daryl Mitchell starring with an excellent century.

But India struck back in the final Powerplay, conceding merely 54 runs in that spell, with the returning Mohammed Shami ending with a five-wicket haul.

And the chase, which started in rip-snorting fashion once again thanks to Rohit Sharma, ended when Ravindra Jadeja (39*) found the boundary with 12 balls of the innings still remaining.

The home crowd almost left even happier, with Kohli again going in search of a century in the latter stages of the innings. But, having turned down an easy single the ball before, Kohli skied a catch as he went for a six to reach his maximum and win the game, departing for 95 from 104 balls.

Match 21: India beat New Zealand by four wickets

Set a target of 274 to win, India’s openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill got off to a flier with another excellent opening partnership, sparked by the in-form skipper.

Rohit continued his remarkable form against New Zealand’s in-form opening bowlers, hitting a string of boundaries and scoring at a high rate.

Content to play second fiddle at the other end, Gill became the fastest batter to reach 2000 runs in Men’s ODIs during the opening powerplay, as India reached 63/0 after ten overs.

The introduction of Lockie Ferguson slowed India’s innings, with the pacer removing both Rohit for 46 and Shubman Gill for 26.

And the match took an unexpected turn when a blanket of fog rolled over the ground to bring a halt to play as the umpires waited for conditions to improve.

Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer resumed their partnership as visibility improved, with India well-placed thanks to that fast start, but Trent Boult kept the game alive when he removed Iyer for 33.

Kohli, fresh from his outstanding century in the last game, settled some Indian nerves as he moved the team within 100 runs of their target.

And Kohli himself cruised to another half century, overtaking his captain as the tournament’s leading run-scorer in the process.

But a topsy-turvy match took another twist when KL Rahul departed for 27, leaving India down to their last recognised batters with plenty of work still to do in the chase.

And Suryakumar Yadav’s first appearance with the bat at the World Cup ended prematurely when he was run out for 2.

With India’s lengthened tail put to the test for the first time in the tournament, New Zealand had a chance of pulling off a big win in Dharamsala. But Kohli and Jadeja combined to settle the growing nerves, staying on top of the required rate and ticking the game over to bring the total to within touching distance.

For the second time in consecutive matches, Kohli was faced with the chance to go for his century as the required runs ticked down, and he did just that, attacking Boult to move into the nineties, and handed back the strike by Jadeja for the next over.

But Kohli, who turned down a single with his century in mind, missed out on a 49th ODI ton when he was well caught by Glenn Phillips in the deep as he went for the big shot to seal the deal.

Kohli’s fall sucked the air out of the crowd, but Jadeja soon got the home crowd jumping again, as he found the boundary with the winning runs to leave India with a winning record of five wins from five.

Earlier, India won the toss and opted to field first, with Rohit also confirming two changes to the Indian XI. An injury to all-rounder Hardik Pandya ruled him out, with Shardul Thakur also missing out, as Mohammed Shami and Suryakumar Yadav came into the team against an unchanged New Zealand.

India’s fast bowlers were right on the mark at the start of the match in Dharamsala, building big pressure through the first powerplay.

While Will Young looked to adjust to the early uneven bounce by rotating the strike, Conway found the going tough. In an attempt to unshackle himself after eight run-less deliveries, the southpaw tried to take on Mohammed Siraj, but ended up falling to a diving Shreyas Iyer on the leg-side for 0.

New Zealand’s troubles were compounded when Young too fell within the first Powerplay. Mohammed Shami, playing his very first game in this edition of the World Cup, picked up a wicket with his first ball of the match as Young played on.

India had the upper hand, but Rachin Ravindra and Daryl Mitchell brought the game back under control for the Black Caps with an outstanding 159-run partnership that set an excellent platform for their team.

Kuldeep Yadav was in much better touch during his second spell, even though he was taken for runs by the set Mitchell and also suffered a dropped catch in the 33rd over. But the spinner eventually was able to scalp Tom Latham’s wicket, trapping the left-handed leg before wicket.

New Zealand added 38 runs for the fifth wicket, with Glenn Phillips providing a good supporting hand to Mitchell. But Kuldeep struck again in the 45th over to remove the dangerous Phillips. He tried to slog the bowler out of the ground, but could only reach the covers, where three India fielders converged. Skipper Rohit kept his eyes on the ball and completed a safe take.

Mohammed 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, and had Mitchel caught off the penultimate delivery to wrap up an inspired 5/54 on his return to the India team.

Mitchell’s 130 from 127 balls was the key knock for his side. But while the centurion was the only batter to score at better than a run-a-ball for New Zealand, Mitchell would have hoped to kick on more in the back end of the innings.

Playing XIs

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

New Zealand squad: Devon Conway, Will Young, Rachin Ravindra, Tom Latham (c) (wk), Daryl Mitchell, Glenn Phillips, Mark Chapman, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult.

Indian Abroad News Desk
Indian Abroad News Desk
Indian Abroad is a news channel and fortnightly newspaper meant for Australia’s Indian community and, besides news, focuses on lifestyle subjects like health, travel, culture, arts, beauty, fashion, entertainment, Bollywood, etc. Our YouTube channel here features daily news bulletins besides infotainment videos on lifestyle subjects.

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