Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Mohammed Shami gave India a much-needed breakthrough by claiming a wicket in the first ball he bowled in the semifinal against New Zealand in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Chasing India's 397/4, NZ openers Rachin Ravindra and Devon Conway started well by adding 30 runs in the first five overs. Captain Rohit Sharma decided to bring Mohammed Shami into the attack after Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj couldn't break the opening stand.
Rohit's move worked as Shami struck first ball. Left-hander Conway edged the ball that pitched outside off and KL Rahul claimed a smart catch behind the stumps. The CSK batter was dismissed for 13 from 15 balls.
Shami, who has claimed 17 wickets in ICC ODI World Cup 2023, went for just four runs in the over as Kane Williams found a boundary of the last ball.
Earlier, Virat Kohli scored a historic 50th ODI century, propelling India to a massive 397/4. Complementing Kohli's sustained brilliance was Iyer's 70-ball 105 laced with eight sixes and four fours a knock that pummelled New Zealand into submission.
If both Kohli and Gill could play their games it was because Rohit's ultra-aggressive approach yet again had provided a rollicking start that blew away the pressure of the big game.
Having stroked his way to 47 with four sixes and as many boundaries, Rohit got beaten by an off-cutter from Southee that ended his assault.
For Rohit had left New Zealand gasping for breath the usually composed Kiwis appeared to be scrambling for answers to stop the Indian skipper until Tim Southee found one.
But the credit for the dismissal went to the fielder Kane Williamson as much as it did to the bowler. Williamson, stationed at mid-off, went behind and sideways to take a stunning catch over his head.
It was, however, the only success that New Zealand enjoyed for the majority of the innings as they kept chasing leather.
In fact, New Zealand made desperate moves early on that showed they were panicking.