The sea of blue at the Wankhede had started losing its sheen as the Blackcaps skipper Kane Williamson and Daryl Mitchell were slowly threatening to take the game away from India in the first semifinal of the World Cup 2023 on Wednesday, November 15.
The two batters had stitched a 180-run stand for the third wicket and were threatening to take the game away from India’s grasp. A fretful Rohit Sharma looked desperate for a breakthrough and pulled out the most lethal arrow of his quiver – Mohammed Shami, and New Zealand’s crest of wave met its trough.
The 33-year-old pacer helped India roar their way back into the contest as he dismissed Williamson to put an end to his 181-run stand with Mitchell for the third wicket. Williamson’s downfall brought Tom Latham into the middle but his stay was cut short by a spirited Shami, who pinned him in front of his stumps for a two-ball duck.
It was Shami who had provided India with a dream start after getting the better of both the New Zealand openers – Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra and delivered again when calls for rescue reached an alarming decibel.
The Amroha-born put the last nail in New Zealand’s coffin when he forced Mitchell to play into India’s trap in the 46th over. Shami pitched one up on the pads and forced the Kiwi batter to take the aerial route, leading to his downfall.
Mitchell whipped it straight to Ravindra Jadeja stationed at mid-wicket and made his way back to the dressing room in despair after a well-deserved hundred. The right-arm pacer finished with a seven-for and also recorded the best bowling figures (7/57) by an Indian in ODI World Cup history.
Shami’s seven-fer propelled India into their record-fourth ODI World Cup finale and has added wings to the dreams of many Indian cricket fans across the globe.
However, astonishingly enough, India’s most successful World Cup bowler was forced to sit on the sidelines at the beginning of the World Cup campaign as the team combination had ruled him out of contention.
The thought of not being good enough to make it to the team sheet can have a debilitating effect on most but not on someone who has conquered suicidal thoughts to give life a second innings.
The darkest hour of Shami’s career
Back in May 2020, in a startling revelation that sent shockwaves through the cricketing world, Shami disclosed that he was once battling suicidal thoughts, during an Instagram live with Rohit. The reasons were aplenty. Shami’s now estranged wife Hasin Jahan had accused him of match-fixing, domestic violence and adultery in March 2018.
She filed a police complaint against Shami and his brother that saw them getting booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). In addition to that, the match-fixing allegations levelled against the India pacer by his wife saw the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) set up an Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) to investigate the matter.
The ACU conducted a thorough investigation into the matter and gave a clean chit to the speedster and more importantly cleared him of anti-Indian implications.
“Neeraj Kumar has submitted his confidential report to the CoA. Based on the conclusions in the said report, the CoA is of the view that no further actions/ proceedings under the BCCI anti-corruption code are warranted in the matter. For this reason, the BCCI shall proceed with offering a Grade ‘B’ annual retainership contract to Mohd. Shami,” BCCI’s media release read.
A tantalizing future beckons
Having already pipped legends to becoming the fastest to 50 ODI World Cup wickets (in the fewest innings), Shami has put all the past demons to bed with his coruscating performance in the marquee tournament.
But Shami’s dream run at the World Cup is far from over. It has a page waiting to be flipped, a page with a glorious promise in store for him and 140 crore Indians.
Latest Cricket News