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India captain Rohit Sharma felt his side could never relax as they closed out a 70-run win over New Zealand to reach the World Cup final following Virat Kohli’s record-breaking 50th ODI century in Mumbai.
Sachin Tendulkar was in his home city to witness first-hand Kohli set a new benchmark in ODIs with a typically assured 117 off 113 balls which laid the foundations for India’s mammoth 397 for four.
New Zealand then battled hard in the chase, but hopes of a third successive World Cup final appearance were dashed despite Daryl Mitchell’s fine 134 as they were all out for 327 as Mohammed Shami took a career-best seven for 57.
Rohit, though, admitted he had never taken victory as assured as the 1983 and 2011 champions kept on course for victory on home soil.
“I have 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,” Rohit said in his post-match presentation interview.
“We knew there would 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.
“The form all the guys are in, top five or six batters, whenever they’ve gotten an opportunity, they’ve made it count.”
Rohit added: “Being the semi-final, I won’t say there was no pressure, whenever you play there’s pressure, but a semi-final adds a bit extra.
“We wanted to not think too much about it, just do what we’ve been doing like in the first nine games. Things came off for us nicely in the second half.”
After moving to three figures off 106 balls, Kohli leapt and punched the air, briefly sunk to his knees before rising and soaking up the acclaim from a frenzied crowd which included Tendulkar and David Beckham.
Tendulkar wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, he “couldn’t be happier that an Indian broke my record” as Kohli moved into a class of his own in his 291st ODI – 172 fewer than his former team-mate.
Reflecting on his achievement, Kohli said: “It is the stuff of dreams.
“It is very difficult for me to explain this, but if I could paint a perfect picture, I would want this to be the picture.
“My life partner, the person I love the most, she’s sitting there (in the stands). My hero (Tendulkar) he’s sitting there. And I was able to get the 50th in front of all of them and all these fans in such a historic venue. It was amazing.”
India gained a measure of revenge for being dumped out at the same stage of the 2019 tournament by the Black Caps.
Shami said: “It feels amazing. In the last two World Cups, we lost (in the semi-finals), so who knows when or if we will get a chance again.
“We wanted to do everything for this, one chance we didn’t want to let go.”
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was proud of his side’s efforts.
“Firstly, congrats to India, they played outstandingly well, probably their best game today,” he said. “400 was naturally going to be tough, but credit to the guys, proud effort to stay in the fight.
“It is disappointing to go out, but I am super proud of the effort that has gone in for the last seven weeks.
“The effort was there, but India are top class, have world-class batters who didn’t give us a sniff really.
“You come in and get 400, it’s a tick in the box. They deserve to be where they are, played outstandingly well.
“It wasn’t to be today, but it was nice to be out there to give ourselves a chance.
“It was a fantastic crowd, unbelievable atmosphere, slightly one-sided in the support, but special to be part of the tournament.”
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