The word ‘revenge’ is not preferable to use in the field of sports, but still, there are the books which you must clear off, for yourself, for the ones who have a belief in you, and for the ones who invested themselves, their time and emotions to support you in all the circumstances. Rohit Sharma-led Team India did a similar sort of stuff to clear off the books of the knockout stage of ICC tournaments against New Zealand with their performance in the first semi-final.
Feel for the cricket fan, who had been living with the scars and agonies of Nottingham from the World Cup 1999 and misery at Manchester from the semi-final of 2019, both times, losing against New Zealand and getting knocked out of the World Cup. For that very fan, it was a wait and cycle of 20 years bearing the same pain, which was increased for four more years after Martin Guptill’s direct hit run MS Dhoni out, shattering India’s hopes.
So, the semi-final-win against the Blackcaps in Mumbai on Wednesday, November 15 was not just a win for that cricket fan, it was the end of the 24-year-old wait which started with a 5-wicket defeat of Mohammad Azharuddin’s India against Stephen Fleming’s New Zealand in the super-six match ODI World Cup 1999, on June 12, 1999.
Points of difference against New Zealand in Manchester 2019 and Mumbai 2023
Comparing two semi-final clashes between India and New Zealand in back-to-back editions of the ODI World Cup in 2019 and 2023, there lies a huge difference in the intent of Team India in Mumbai during first semi-final of the ongoing edition of the World Cup in comparison to their approach in Manchester during first semi-final of the ODI World Cup 2019; interestingly, both times, the New Zealand factor was there on both the occasions to confront India.
The first incongruence was the batting intent of the men in blue during the powerplay. At Old Trafford in 2019, they had lost four wickets against the fearsome pace duo of Matt Henry and Trent Boult; but this time at Wankhede Stadium the Indian skipper Rohit Sharma had other plans.
It was a spectacular visual to see the way Indian skipper Rohit Sharma overcome the ‘jinx’ of struggling against, the left-arm pacers, especially Trent Boult. Sharma displayed his fearless mindset just in the 3rd over of the Indian innings when he charged up to Trent Boult and lofted him over the extra covers for six with brilliant footwork.
Rohit’s 47 runs off just 29 balls, with 4 fours and 4 sixes helped India reach a total of 84 runs for the loss of just one wicket in the first powerplay; the same fearless approach was missing in the Indian top-order in the overcast conditions at the Old Trafford four years back against the Kiwi pace attack. The top three of India, including KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, and Virat Kohli could score only one run each, the very moment when India fell on the backfoot in the match.
But the roles were reversed in the Indian batting attack at Wankhede, the young lad Shubman Gill (80 runs off 66 balls) opened the innings with Rohit Sharma; the opener at Old Trafford, KL Rahul delivered his brilliance at number 5 in Wankhede with 39 runs off just 20 balls. Virat Kohli also pulled the ‘knockout’ monkey off his back with an amazing century, scoring 117 runs with 9 fours and 3 sixes. All these changes collectively worked for India to post a colossal total of 397 runs for the loss of just 4 wickets in the allotted 50 overs in the first innings.
Shreyas Iyer – A perfect answer to the number four enigma
Not only in 2019 but even a couple of months earlier this year, one of the prime headaches of the Indian batting lineup was the question of having a perfect batting option at the crucial position of number 4; the same position was vacant since the retirement of the World Champion batting all-rounder and number-4 batting great Yuvraj Singh.
The number 4 conundrum kept growing for India in Yuvi’s absence from the most important spot of the batting lineup even in the earlier phase of this very ongoing year but then came a perfect answer in Shreyas Iyer to this most puzzled number 4 mystification. Iyer’s selection in India’s ODI World Cup 2023 squad came under the scanner before the start of the tournament as he was grappling with a few concerns, especially injury and form.
But the 28-year-old proved all speculations and questions wrong which were thrown over him and his selection in the squad. The Mumbai batter has proved his worth for India in the ODI World Cup so far, scoring 526 runs in 10 innings of 10 matches. Averaging 75.14, with two handsome centuries, one in the must-win and all-important semi-final against New Zealand and three half-centuries, Iyer has truly risen to the occasion.
Also check: Most runs in ODI World Cup 2023
Pace Attack – A solution for the decades-long headache of Team India
One of the major differences in India’s lineup of Manchester 2019 during the first semi-final against New Zealand to that of the Mumbai semi-final in 2023 was India’s lethal pace attack. Especially, the presence of Mohammed Shami at Wankhede went on to let Team India realise the impact of his absence in the overcast conditions of Old Trafford in the 2019 semi-final.
Indian pacers scalped 9 wickets in the ODI World Cup 2023 semi-final, which was four wickets more than the 5 wickets picked by them in the ODI World Cup 2019 semi-final against the same opponent. Mohammed Shami himself bagged 7 out of the 9 wickets in the Wankhede Semi-final, which is enough to make one in serious think about the star pacer’s absence in the semi-final of the 2019 edition.
Also check: Most wickets in ODI World Cup 2023
Laconically, the only difference in ‘Mumbai magic’ from the past miseries of Team India in the major international tournaments was that they had a perfect team with all boxes ticked in all departments, be it batting, bowling, or fielding, which eventually helped them to reach the finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 undisputedly without losing even a single match; the same factor was missing in Team India in the past for a couple of decades which was one of the prime reasons of them choking out at the crucial situations in the ICC knockouts.
#Indias #journey #overKiwijinx