Suryakumar Yadav hit a blazing unbeaten 61 as India crushed Zimbabwe by 71 runs at a packed Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday to set up a ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup semi-final with England.
India were flying at 87-1 but the loss of three quick wickets slowed them down before Yadav set the proceedings alight, smashing six sixes in his 25-ball blitz to steer them to 186-5, with 79 coming off the last five overs.
Zimbabwe lost two wickets for two runs in reply and were never in the hunt, capitulating in the 17th over in front of 82,507 fans. Ravichandran Ashwin took 3-22 for a rampant India.
The number one-ranked Indians, the 2007 champions, were already through to the semi-finals after the Netherlands upset South Africa earlier in the day.
Victory over Zimbabwe confirmed their position at the top of Group 2 to tee up a last-four clash with Jos Buttler’s England, who finished second in Group 1. The two sides face off at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday.
Group 1 winners New Zealand will play Group 2 runners-up Pakistan at the Sydney Cricket Ground a day earlier.
India won the toss and batted in the final group game of the Super 12 stage, with a disciplined Zimbabwe – whose semi-final hopes were already over – opening with nine dot balls.
But the runs started flowing with Rohit Sharma slapping a boundary off Tendai Chatara and then KL Rahul lashing a huge six from Richard Ngarava.
Rohit was just getting in the groove when he misjudged a pull shot going for the ropes again and was out for 15, caught in the deep by Wellington Masakadza.
That brought Virat Kohli to the crease and he and Rahul reached 79-1 after 10 overs.
Kohli became the highest run-scorer in T20 World Cup history last week and had hit three half-centuries during the tournament.
But there would be no explosive fourth, with the master batsman holing out on 26 to Ryan Burl, undone by the spin of Sean Williams.
Rahul brought up an entertaining 50 with a six off Sikandar Raza but departed next ball trying for another, taken on the boundary by Masakadza for 51.
Williams and Burl combined again to remove Rishabh Pant (3) before Yadav and Hardik Pandya (18) powered India home.
Zimbabwe’s chase got off to a horror start with Wesley Madhevere out first ball, flashing Bhuvneshwar Kumar to the covers, where Kohli hung on.
It went from bad to worse when Regis Chakabva also fell without scoring, bowled by Arshdeep Singh to leave them on 2-2.
Williams and skipper Craig Ervine put on 26 for the third wicket before both departed in the space of six balls – Williams caught off Mohammed Shami for 11 and Ervine caught and bowled by Hardik Pandya for 13.
Raza and Burl came to the rescue, with spinner Axar Patel coming in for particular punishment.
They put on 60 runs before Burl was bowled by Ashwin for a 22-ball 35. The wickets kept tumbling with Raza the penultimate batsman, out for 34.
Here’s a look at the reactions from the match:
(With inputs from AFP)