There were many in the list of Indian performers who can be credited for the 70-run triumph. Virat Kohli’s record-breaking 50th ODI century, Shreyas Iyer‘s second consecutive hundred, the start provided by Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill and the seven-wicket spell by the unplayable Mohammed Shami all proved decisive in India’s entry into the final. But among all those names, one that stands out for former England skipper Nasser Hussain is the skipper.
To underline his statement, Hussain, who was speaking during Star Sports’ post-match discussion, said that the fearless approach that Rohit has shown as a leader and the at the top of the batting order has been infectious.
“The headlines tomorrow will be about Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Mohammed Shami; but the genuine hero of this Indian side, the actual man that has changed the culture of this Indian side, is Rohit Sharma,” said Husain.
To explain that further, Hussain narrated what his fellow commentator and India player Dinesh Karthik told him behind the scenes.
“We were all there at the (T20 World Cup 2022) semifinal in Adelaide where they (India) played meek, timid cricket, plodded along, got a below par score and England knocked them off none down, won by 10 wickets. We have DK with us who said after that he (Rohit) said to DK ‘we gonna have to change’,” said Hussain.
“It’s one thing saying that and another thing going out and actually walking the talk.”
In the semi-final at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday, it was Rohit who once again infused that fearless approach to India’s game with a 29-ball 47 at the top of the order and added 71 runs with Gill (80 not out), after which the two centurions — Virat (117) and Iyer (105) — took over and KL Rajul (39 not out in 20 balls) provided the flourish to take the total to 397/4.
New Zealand, despite a shaky start, made a serious effort to knock over the big target with a century from Daryl Mithcell (134) and a fine 69 by skipper Kane Williamson; but once Williamson was sent back by Shami, the Indian pacer started owning the game and finished with record-breaking figures of 7/57.
“I think the real hero today was Rohit,” Hussain reiterated. “The first time they (India) have been tested. Group stage, as you would know, is one thing. Can you do it again (in a knockout game)? Can you play fearless cricket? The skipper went out and showed everyone, showed his dressing room that we are going to carry on exactly the same way.”
In the title match on Sunday, India will take on the winner of the second semi-final between Australia and South Africa in Kolkata on Thursday.