DHARAMSALA: Virat Kohli’s gutsy 95-run knock in the run chase powered India to edge New Zealand by four wickets and climbed to the summit of the ICC World Cup 2023 standings on Sunday.
Set to chase 274, India completed the pursuit for the loss of six wickets and 12 balls remaining to stay unbeaten in the mega event.
Notably, this was India’s first victory over New Zealand after 20 years in an ICC tournament.
Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill gave the hosts a flying start as they notched up a 71-run opening stand before Lockie Ferguson stepped up for New Zealand, removing both openers in his successive overs.
Sharma fell just shy of his half-century, scoring a 40-ball 46, hitting four boundaries and as many sixes while Gill scored a cautious 26. His 31-ball knock included five boundaries.
Following back-to-back blows, Shreyas Iyer joined Virat Kohli and they put together an anchoring 52-run partnership before the former perished in the 22nd over.
He scored 33 in 29 balls, smashing six boundaries.
Kohli was then involved in another crucial partnership for India with KL Rahul, who scored a 35-ball 27 before the home side lost two more wickets as the wicketkeeper batter and Suryakumar Yadav (2) fell in the span of 11 deliveries.
The back-to-back dismissals fueled New Zealand with momentum and their bowlers piled pressure on the Indian batters but set batter Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja did not deter.
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The duo batted sensibly and put India in touching distance of a long-awaited victory over New Zealand with Virat sniffing his second century of the ICC World Cup 2023.
However, Matt Henry barred Kohli from equalling Sachin Tendulkar’s record of most ODI centuries (49), dismissing the star batter on 95.
Virat Kohli hit eight boundaries and two sixes on his way to a 104-ball 95.
Meanwhile, Jadeja carried his bat all the way through with an unbeaten 39 and steered India to glory.
His 44-ball knock featured three boundaries and a six.
Lockie Ferguson bagged two wickets for New Zealand, while Matt Henry, Mitchell Santner and Trent Boult made one scalp each.
India opted to field first after winning the toss and their bowlers justified the decision by dismissing both opening batters inside ten overs with a meagre 34 runs on board.
Rachin Ravindra and Daryl Mitchell then knitted a formidable third-wicket partnership to stabilize New Zealand innings.
Together they added 159 runs from 152 balls before Ravindra attempted to send Shami’s slower one to the stands but was caught by Shubman Gill on the boundary.
Ravindra’s 87-ball innings of 75 featured six boundaries and one six.
Mitchell then saw Kiwi skipper Tom Latham going back to the pavilion after getting lbw off Kuldeep Yadav.
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Glenn Phillips (23) then supported Mitchell to add 38 runs for the fifth wicket before ballooning up Kuldeep Yadav’s ball only to be caught by Rohit Sharma.
Indian bowlers did not let New Zealand recover and gave only 30 runs for the last five wickets, as none of the lower-order batters could reach double figures.
Mitchell stood firm on the other end and hit Shami for ten runs in the final over before being caught by Virat Kohli in an attempt to hit the third boundary of the over.
He recorded his highest ODI score 130 off 127 balls with the help of nine boundaries and five sixes.
Shami topped the Indian bowling charts with his five-fer while Kuldeep Yadav picked two wickets for 73 runs.