MELBOURNE: A delightful, breathless attack from Suryakumar Yadav (61 not out from 25 balls; 6×4, 4×6) was the highlight of India’s 71-run decimation of Zimbabwe at the ‘G’ on Sunday night.
AS IT HAPPENED
KL Rahul also chipped in with a second successive half-century before the bowlers made quick work of the opposition line-up to establish the point that there would be no change in the status quo when India took the field. After all, the day began with the Netherlands upsetting South Africa to upend all predictions in Group 2, but a brutally dominant performance ensured that India finished as group toppers. They will play now England next Thursday in the second semi-final at the Adelaide Oval.
Surya’s repertoire of bold strokeplay, all powerful wrists and furious angles, even as he chases perfection at the point of contact, was on display as India, batting first, exploded to 186/5 in 20 overs after another quiet start. The scoops, the sweeps, the pick-up shots, the high drives all melted into one in a maverick display of T20 batting genius. Before Suryakumar, the possibility of regularly pulling off such shots, with such impeccable placement, was perhaps only in the realm of imagination.
Zimbabwe’s hapless bowlers watched their slower and cutters disappear into the stands. Surya finished with a strike rate of 244 and the fourth fastest 50 (off 23 balls) for India in T20 World Cups. India scored 79 off the last five overs, with ‘SKY’ scoring his last 56 runs from 19 balls. This was Suryakumar’s sixth 50-plus innings at a strike rate of 200 or more in T20Is, obviously making him the first Indian to achieve the feat. It was as if Suryakumar had brought a fly strike, not a bat, to brush aside the bowlers. By the end of 15 overs, India were cruising along at 7.13, with Suryakumar and Hard feel their way in the middle.
However, the return of Blessing Muzarabani’s pace woke up ‘SKY’ as he unleashed his full range of shots: second ball of the 16th over, an ugly thick edge over the ‘keeper. Not pretty but a borderline. Next ball, driven on middle to knock. Four more. Hardik also came into his own and the over yielded 18 runs.
Surya’s charge picked up more steam in the 17th over, bowled by the left-armer Richard Ngarava: guided a wide full toss over the third-man fence. Third ball, a six, the pickup shot over backward square this time.
Next over, a wide slow cutter from Tendai Chatara kicked fine over short, then a powerful hit over extra cover for six to end the over. Twelve from the 17th, 15 from the 18th. The next over, Muzarabani bowls a slow yorker at SKY’s legs, only to see the batter give way and use those magical wrists to hammer it straight.
Two sixes and a four followed in the 20th over, the last six, off the last ball from Ngarava, a wide yorker played amazingly over his shoulder, ‘SKY’ nearly tumbled over but ensured everything was perfect at the point of contact .
The Surya magic has mesmerized Zimbabwe. Batting has not been their forte in this tournament and when Bhuvneshwar Got Madhevere first ball with an away swinger, the writing was on the wall. By the end of the Powerplay Zimbabwe were 28/3 and by the 9th over they were 47-5. Any semblance of a contest was effectively over.
Only Sikandar Raza again played lone ranger with a 24-ball 34 as Zimbabwe reached 115 before losing all their wickets in 17.2 overs. It was a good workout for India ahead of the knockouts and the win will keep them in a good headspace ahead of the England game.
In the end it was Suryakumar’s fireworks, perfectly suited to the color and noise of T20s, that won the day for the 82,507 who attended the ‘G’.
T20-WC: ‘SKY’ headlines as India beats Zimbabwe to set up England semi-final