Mohammed Shami – the grand conductor of the symphony of doom for New Zealand
Four years ago, the city that houses the Theatre of Dreams turned into a searing chamber of living nightmares for the Indian cricket fans as they fell face first onto the floor after India’s heart-breaking defeat on the reserve day of the second semi-final in the 2019 World Cup. It was the same opposition and despite coming close from almost nothing, India failed to go past that finishing line.
Fast forward the clock to 2023, where India was still living with the agonizing scar tissue of 2019 and the last year’s semi-final of the T20 World Cup that saw them cowering down to the eventual champions of the tournament, England, New Zealand’s arrival to Wankhede seemed like a deja-vu.
But then just because ghosts swirled overhead didn’t need to mean that they would storm in the field of play as well. If Virat and Shreyas’ centuries were the overtures to what is going to be the modern-day version of Beethoven’s ninth symphony, Mohammed Shami came with the sky-shattering, the sternum-churning, the Kiwi-decimating crescendo.
It all started with a KL Rahul pulling off an eagle-esque dive to his left to send Devon Conway back to the hut as Shami induced a late swinging delivery. Rachin Ravindra, who was Conway’s opening partner saw Shami nipping the ball back in his case and he was undone by the pace as the ball caught a whiff of his inside edge and went straight to KL Rahul.
But then what is a good encounter without a fall or in this case let’s say a dropped chance. Shami made a royal mess of a straightforward catch that would have sent Kane Williamson packing. But then that’s a part of life. You grab a few, you let go of a few and Shami ensured that he was in for a glorious redemption.
Believing in himself, Shami came back for another spell as Rohit had pinned all his hopes on one of India’s finest. He didn’t disappoint. Tossing one up to Williamson, he laid the trap perfectly as the latter flicked a delivery straight down the throat of Suryakumar Yadav at deep square leg.
Blowing back life into the upbeat Wankhede crowd, Shami claimed Latham too as an inswinger proved to be the southpaw’s undoing. As the Indian ace quick spewed venom at one end while Daryll Mitchell knitted together a song of resistance at the other, the two came eye to eye for what was going to be a glorious war of cosmic proportions. Despite Mitchell’s earlier success, Shami fulfilled his destiny with a slower one that was picked wrongly by the centurion as he drilled it straight down the gullet of Ravindra Jadeja to bring about a fifer for India’s inexorable express train, while also handing over the Men in Blue a ticket to the final.
The rest of the tail was a mere formality for the unplayable Shami as he produced a couple of outswingers that barely nipped away from Southee and Lockie Ferguson as Rahul pouched regulation takes to send the crowd into a frenzy of unparalleled raptures for they knew that the prize was won. Well, the grand prize still remains to be conquered and whether Shami can be the conductor of this cosmic symphony or not, only time shall reveal it all.