Watched by Beckham, Kohli hits record 50th ton as India makes 397-4 vs NZ in Cricket World Cup semis

MUMBAI, India — Virat Kohli hit a record-breaking 117 to thrill a packed Mumbai crowd containing soccer great David Beckham and help India post a daunting 397-4 against New Zealand in the Cricket World Cup semifinals on Wednesday.

Kohli reached his record 50th century in one-day internationals, surpassing the mark he shared with countryman Sachin Tendulkar, who was also at the game.

India skipper Rohit Sharma won the important toss and opted to bat first.

Shreyas Iyer scored his second consecutive hundred in the tournament – 105 off 70 balls with four boundaries and eight sixes – as India reached the highest score in a World Cup knockout game.

The Wankhede Stadium was bathed in blue jerseys and packed for a special occasion with a galaxy of cricket, soccer and Bollywood stars in attendance.

Beckham attended the game as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador.

Tendulkar had scored 49 hundreds in 452 ODI innings, while Kohli got to this milestone in 279 innings. Kohli reached his 50th ODI 100 off 106 balls in the 42nd over, jumping with joy and then bowing down to his cricket idol Tendulkar.

Kohli put on 93 runs with Shubman Gill (80), who retired hurt after scoring 79 off 65 balls. Then Kohli put on 163 runs off 128 balls with Iyer.

The teams are known adversaries at this stage of the World Cup — it is a repeat first semifinal from 2019, when New Zealand beat India by 18 runs in a rain-affected game spanning two days. Like four years ago, India finished the league stage atop the standings. It won all nine games to finish with a perfect score of 18.

New Zealand, the runners-up in 2019, finished fourth after the first stage with five wins from nine games – winning its first four, then losing four on the bounce before a victory in its last game against Sri Lanka confirmed qualification for the knockouts.

New Zealand retained the same XI from that win for the semifinal.

India has also fielded an unchanged lineup from its win over over the Netherlands on Sunday.

Sharma didn’t hesitate to bat first, with the game’s start marred by controversy over a last-minute switch in the pitch used.

The Indian skipper hit four sixes as well as four fours. His 47 runs off 29 balls helped India get off the blocks, adding 71 off 50 with Gill for the first wicket. Sharma fell in the ninth over with Kane Williamson taking a stupendous catch running back from mid-off.

In walked Kohli, and went about building his innings. He was happy to take the back seat as Gill took the attack to New Zealand after Sharma’s dismissal – hitting eight fours and three sixes as he reached 50 off 41 balls.

India crossed 150 in 19.4 overs, before Gill was injured. He responded gingerly to Kohli’s call for a single, and was down injured. He walked off the field after receiving attention from the Indian physiotherapist.

New Zealand’s attack looked toothless on a typical sub-continental wicket. Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner did well to finish with 0-51 in 10 overs where the innings run-rate was above seven an over throughout.

Kohli’s innings, which included nine fours and two sixes, ended when he holed out off Tim Southee, who took 3-100 in 10 overs. He walked off to a standing ovation.

It was Kohli’s first major score in a World Cup knockout game, having failed to make double figures in three previous semifinals.

After his dismissal, Iyer took charge of the innings and raced to his hundred. His second 50 came off 32 deliveries.

Lokesh Rahul finished with 39 off 20, hitting five fours and two sixes.

South Africa and Australia will contest the second semifinal at Kolkata on Thursday.


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