Shami derails New Zealand as India roar into ICC Cricket World Cup final

Right-arm Indian pacer becomes fastest bowler in history of ICC World Cup to complete 50-wicket haul.

Mohammed Shami took seven wickets against New Zealand in the semifinal
India's Mohammed Shami celebrates the wicket of New Zealand's Daryl Mitchell during the ICC Cricket World Cup semifinal match between India and New Zealand in Mumbai, India on November 15, 2023 [Rafiq Maqbool/ AP Photo]

Indian pacer Mohammed Shami grabbed 7-57 against New Zealand to become the fastest bowler in the history of the ICC Cricket World Cup to complete a 50-wicket haul.

With his seven wickets on Wednesday at the iconic Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, Shami needed just 17 matches to reach the landmark – two games quicker than previous record holder Mitchell Starc of Australia.

Shami brought the magic, with his bowling propelling India to a thumping 70-run win over New Zealand in the first of the semifinals.

It stretched the hosts’ unbeaten record to 10 ahead of the final against either Australia or South Africa, who play on Thursday at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

Shami also registered India’s best-ever bowling figures at the World Cup. “I was waiting for my chances,” Shami said after he wrecked New Zealand’s hopes of reaching the final.

He didn’t feature in India’s first four games at the World Cup, but he made an impressive entry at Dharamsala with figures of 5-54 against New Zealand in the group stage. He went on to take 11 more wickets in the next three games against England, Sri Lanka and South Africa before returning a rare wicketless game against the Netherlands.

“My return started against New Zealand,” the fast bowler said.

With a tally of 23 wickets so far, Shami is also the leading wicket-taker in the tournament after figuring in just six games.

“We talk a lot of variations, but I still believe in pitching it up and getting wickets with the new ball,” said Shami, who felt awful when he dropped New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson in the 29th over.

“The focus was to try and take pace off, see if they’re hitting it in the air,” he said about the bowling plan. “It was a chance we had to take. The wicket was very good, lots of runs were scored in the afternoon.”

Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar hailed Shami for his seven-wicket spell, posting on X: “What a Shami-final!!!!!! Well done India for a superb batting display and a spectacular bowling performance to get into the final.”

India had lost to New Zealand in the semifinals of the last World Cup in England, and Shami was pleased with the way India has played so far in the tournament,

“It feels amazing,” Shami said.

He grabbed the wickets of openers Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra with his impressive seam movement as he found the outside edges of both inside the batting powerplay.

And just when it looked like century-maker Daryl Mitchell (134) and Williamson (69) could threaten the tall target of 398, Shami’s twin strike provided India the needed breakthroughs.

Williamson flicked the bowler to deep square leg in the 33rd over and then Tom Latham was out without scoring when he was pinned leg before wicket by Shami’s incoming delivery.

He completed his five-wicket haul when Mitchell was also caught in the deep before he claimed two more wickets in his last over to bowl out New Zealand for 327 and complete a perfect night for the hosts.

Shami said his team were determined not to let the chance of winning a home World Cup slip out of their hands.

“Last two World Cups, we lost [in the semifinals]. Who knows when or if we’ll get a chance, so we wanted to do everything for this, one chance we didn’t want to let go,” he said after winning the player of the match award.

“Who knows when the next chance might come.”

Cricket - ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 - Semi-Final - India v New Zealand - Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, India - November 15, 2023 India's Mohammed Shami celebrates after taking the wicket of New Zealand's Kane Williamson, caught out by Suryakumar Yadav REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas
India’s Mohammed Shami celebrates after taking the wicket of New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, caught out by Suryakumar Yadav, in Mumbai, November 15, 2023 [Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies