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regular-article-logo Sunday, 14 April 2024

World Cup 2023: Virat Kohli falls short of record but India complete perfect build-up to semi-finals with Dutch demolition

Fireworks came from the bats of centurions Shreyas Iyer (128 not out) and keeper-batter KL Rahul (102) as they made merry to amass 410/4 after winning the toss

Sayak Banerjee Bangalore Published 13.11.23, 07:24 AM
Kl Rahul (left) and Shreyas Iyer, who joined hands to share a 208-run stand, during the match against the Netherlands in Bangalore on Sunday.

Kl Rahul (left) and Shreyas Iyer, who joined hands to share a 208-run stand, during the match against the Netherlands in Bangalore on Sunday. PTI picture

Virat Kohli did well to reach his half-century but has to wait for the magical 50 in his ODI hundreds column.

From his wife and Bollywood star Anushka Sharma to Kannada film industry superstar and producer Shiva Rajkumar, who were all there at the VIP box of the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday, everyone anticipated Kohli’s milestone in India’s final league-phase game against the Netherlands before the semi-final clash versus New Zealand.

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The former India captain’s departure off left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe for 51 certainly came as an anti-climax for the near-capacity crowd, which was ready to lap up Kohli’s 50th ODI ton. The smiles though were back, particularly on Anushka’s face, when Kohli took his maiden ODI World Cup wicket, dismissing Dutch skipper Scott Edwards in his second over.

Virat Kohli celebrates taking the wicket of Dutch captain Scott Edwards on Sunday. Before that, he also hit a half-century.

Virat Kohli celebrates taking the wicket of Dutch captain Scott Edwards on Sunday. Before that, he also hit a half-century. Twitter

It of course would have been an ideal Diwali present for Kohli had he set the record with the bat. The fireworks, however, came from the bats of centurions Shreyas Iyer (128 not out) and keeper-batter KL Rahul (102) as they made merry to amass 410/4 — India’s second-highest total in the 50-over Cup — after winning the toss.

For India though, what mattered more was “ticking the ninth box” — as head coach Rahul Dravid had emphasised on the eve of this game — ahead of the semis encounter in Mumbai on Wednesday, which they did comfortably with a 160-run victory.

A Dutch win against this strong and supremely confident Indian side was never really thought of. And especially after what Iyer and Rahul did during their explosive 208-run stand for the fourth wicket, something ridiculous had to happen if the Dutch were to beat India. Nothing of that sort happened.

In spite of skipper Rohit Sharma giving a bit of bowling practice to Kohli, Shubman Gill and Surya Kumar Yadav as well as himself, the Dutchmen couldn’t proceed beyond 250 in 47.5 overs.

Precisely, India got what they needed in this dress rehearsal before the semi-final. The batters scored aplenty and the bowlers got wickets.

The pitch here was a belter. The aggressive starts that skipper Rohit is consistently giving have helped lay a solid platform for Kohli, Iyer, Rahul and the rest of the middle order. Rohit (61 off 54 balls) set the tone on Sunday as well, while Gill (51 off 32 balls) too will feel better approaching the semi-final.

The short-ball hiccups aside, Iyer's ability in white-ball cricket has never been doubted. He did well on Sunday as well.

But Iyer's actual test, and that of all the other Indian batters, is on Wednesday though. New Zealand will be ready.

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