ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, Dharamsala:New Zealand 273 (50 overs): Mitchell 130 (127), Ravindra 75 (87); Shami 5-54India 274-6 (48 overs): Kohli 95 (104), Rohit 46 (40); Ferguson 2-63India won by four wicketsScorecard. Table
Virat Kohli made a masterful 95 and Mohammed Shami claimed 5-54 as World Cup hosts India beat New Zealand by four wickets in Dharamsala.
Kohli hit two sixes and eight fours in another classy knock to put India on the brink of victory as they chased down a target of 274.
Shami earlier starred with the ball as Daryl Mitchell’s 130 made up the bulk of New Zealand’s runs.
Table toppers India are the only unbeaten side left after five matches.
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Fog briefly stopped play during India’s reply but Kohli’s mind remained clear as he played a big hand in the highest successful chase in a one-day international at this ground.
He produced another stellar innings and now has 354 runs at an average of 118 in a tournament on which he looks set to leave an indelible mark.
Rohit Sharma had given India a solid start with a typically bold 46 off 40 balls but Kohli’s calm assurance to pace the chase was key after three of India’s top order made starts without kicking on.
Kohli fell five agonising runs short of equalling Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI centuries when he holed out to Glenn Phillips in the deep off Matt Henry with five runs needed for victory.
But Ravindra Jadeja, who made 39 not out, got India over the line with 12 balls to spare when he hit Henry for four.
Earlier, Mitchell and Rachin Ravindra, who struck 75, helped New Zealand recover from the loss of two early wickets with a third-wicket stand of 159.
Mitchell brought up his century off exactly 100 balls but both he and the Kiwis will rue the fact they could not capitalise in the final 10 overs to post a more commanding total.
Peerless Kohli keeps India on course
Both teams headed into this meeting in the foothills of the Himalayas unbeaten, and the match had been billed by some as a dress rehearsal for the World Cup final.
India had not tasted victory against New Zealand at an ICC tournament for over two decades, but the Kiwis were unable to carve open the scars of those defeats.
Indeed, there was little in this contest to suggest India’s ascent to at least the semi-finals of the tournament will be anything other than smooth.
Especially if Kohli, who has notched scores of 85, 55*, 16, 103* and 95 so far, continues to mine runs from such a rich vein.
He was in India’s team when the legendary Tendulkar made the last of his 49 ODI centuries against Bangladesh in Mirpur at the 2012 Asia Cup.
Kohli already had 10 ODI hundreds to his name at that point and the Little Master must have had more than an inkling of the most likely candidate to dethrone him.
The 34-year-old came mightily close to drawing level with Tendulkar here, but still has potentially six more games to score the two hundreds needed to surpass him during a home World Cup in front of his own fans.
With fewer ODIs expected to be played in the future, amid the popularity of T20 cricket, he could reach 50 ODI centuries knowing the record may never be broken again.
Kohli’s peerless batting put the return of one of India’s most skilful bowlers in the shadow at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium.
Shami’s first appearance of the tournament emphasised the depth of not just India’s batting, but their bowling reserves, too.
He overtook Anil Kumble as India’s third-highest wicket taker at World Cups with 36 victims en route to his second World Cup five-wicket haul.
It leaves India with a few selection dilemmas for their next match against an England team in disarray ahead of their meeting in Lucknow next Sunday.
‘Just what we needed’ – reaction
India captain Rohit Sharma: “Mohammed Shami took his opportunity with both hands. He is a class player, with so much experience and I am very happy for him.
“Our bowlers pulled it back nicely for us, and they deserve a lot of credit because it was a great effort to reduce them to less than 280.
“Virat has done it for us so many times. He is a calm head and just what we needed in that situation.”
New Zealand skipper Tom Latham: “I thought we played reasonably well. Towards the back 10 overs, we didn’t quite capitalise on the position we were in but credit to India for how they bowled.
“Rachin Ravindra and Daryl Mitchell played really well to set us up for the last 10 but we couldn’t capitalise. We probably left a few out there.
“With the ball, we went past the bat a few times in the first 10 or 15 overs but just couldn’t get the wicket and they formed partnership after partnership.”