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‘Still believe in pitching it up and taking wickets’: Shami | Cricket


‘Still believe in pitching it up and taking wickets’: Shami | Cricket


In all the matches India had played in the World Cup leading up to their semi-final, captain Rohit Sharma had plenty of aces up his sleeve with all his bowlers firing and sharing wickets. Come the knockout fixture against New Zealand though, most of Sharma’s weapons didn’t fire. It boiled down to Mohammed Shami’s superb effort of 7/57 to extinguish the New Zealand fightback in their gallant chase of India’s total of 397/4.

Mohammed Shami celebrates a dismissal of New Zealand during their match in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023, at Wankhede Stadium(ICC-X)
Mohammed Shami celebrates a dismissal of New Zealand during their match in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, at Wankhede Stadium(ICC-X)

It is the second straight time Shami hurt New Zealand. In the league game against the Black Caps in Dharamsala, which was Shami’s first of the tournament, he had picked a fifer. In his previous match at the Wankhede, against Sri Lanka, he had picked up a five-wicket haul, bundling them out for a mere 55 runs.

“I was waiting for my chances. I didn’t play a lot of white-ball cricket. My return started against New Zealand [in Dharamsala],” said the star bowler who went to the top of the wickets tally with 23 scalps. Amazingly he has played half the number of games compared to other leading bowlers of the tournament, his haul coming in just six innings.

Speaking about his performance to the official broadcasters after the game, Shami said: “We talk a lot of variations, but I still believe in pitching it up and getting wickets with the new ball. The focus was to try and take pace off, see if they’re hitting it in the air. It was a chance we had to take (with the variations).”

His performance stood out because the pitch was completely different to the one against Sri Lanka. It was a featherbed which saw three hundreds scored. “The wicket was very good, lots of runs were scored in the afternoon. There was some fear of dew, the grass had been shaved off from the wicket. If dew was there, it skids on and there’s a chance runs could’ve been made. It feels amazing (this kind of performance). `The last two World Cups, we lost (in the semi-finals). 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,” said Shami.

India captain Rohit Sharma said he was alert to the fact that even after getting 397 on the board, his team couldn’t take any chances. New Zealand stretched the Indians by getting to 327 despite losing their openers cheaply.

“I’ve played a lot of cricket here, any score on this ground, you can’t relax. Got to get the job done quickly and stay at it. We knew there will be pressure on us. We were very calm, even though we were a bit sloppy on the field. These things are bound to happen but glad we could get the job done.”

He was all praise for Shami for providing the double breakthrough when Kane Williamson and Daryl Mitchell were going great guns to take the total to 220/2 in 32 overs. During a second spell of 2-0-4-2, Shami got the prized wicket of Williamson. “The crowd went silent, but we knew we needed a catch or run out. Shami was brilliant,” said Rohit.

“It’s hard to say if we would’ve been in trouble [had India scored 30-40 less]. They wouldn’t have taken those risks. Williamson and Mitchell batted brilliantly. Was important for us to stay calm.”

The India captain was happy with how the entire batting unit clicked. “The form all the guys are in, top five-six batters, whenever they’ve gotten an opportunity, they’ve made it count. Very pleased to see what Iyer has done for us this tournament. Gill, the way he’s batted for us has been brilliant. Unfortunate he had to go off with cramps. Kohli did what he does, also got to his landmark century as well.”


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