Seven-wicket Shami destroys New Zealand's hopes at Cricket World Cup

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MUMBAI, India (AP) — Mohammed Shami grabbed 7-57 against New Zealand to become the quickest bowler in the history of the Cricket World Cup to complete a 50-wicket haul on Wednesday.

Shami needed just 17 matches to reach the landmark two games quicker than previous record holder Mitchell Starc of Australia.

Shami’s brilliant bowling propelled India to a thumping 70-run win over the Black Caps in the first of the semifinals. It stretched the hosts' unbeaten record to 10 ahead of the final against either Australia or South Africa, which play Thursday.

Shami also registered India's best-ever bowling figures at the World Cup.

“I was waiting for my chances,” Shami said after he wrecked New Zealand's hopes of reaching the final.

Shami didn’t feature in India’s first four games at the World Cup before he made an impressive entry at Dharamsala with figures of 5-54 against New Zealand in the group stage. He went on to take 11 more wickets in the next three games against England, Sri Lanka and South Africa before returning a rare wicketless game against the Netherlands.

“My return started against New Zealand,” the fast bowler said.

With a tally of 23 wickets so far, Shami is also the leading wicket-taker in the tournament after figuring in just six games.

“We talk a lot of variations, but I still believe in pitching it up and getting wickets with the new ball,” said Shami, who felt dreadful when he dropped New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson in the 29th over.

“The focus was to try and take pace off, see if they’re hitting it in the air,” he said about the bowling plan. “It was a chance we had to take. The wicket was very good, lots of runs were scored in the afternoon.”

Revenge was sweet for India which lost to Black Caps in the semifinals of the last World Cup in England, and Shami was pleased with the way India has played so far in the tournament,

“It feels amazing,” Shami said. “Last two World Cups, we lost (in the semifinals). Who knows when or if we’ll get a chance, so we wanted to do everything for this, one chance we didn’t want to let go.”

Shami grabbed the wickets of openers Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra with his impressive seam movement as he found the outside edges of both inside the batting powerplay.

And just when it looked like century-maker Daryl Mitchell (134) and Williamson (69) could threaten the tall target of 398, Shami’s twin strike provided India the needed breakthroughs.

Williamson flicked the bowler to deep square leg in the 33rd over and then Tom Latham was out without scoring when he was pinned lbw by Shami’s incoming delivery.

He completed his five-wicket haul when Mitchell was also caught in the deep before he claimed two more wickets in his last over to bowl out Black Caps for 327 and complete a perfect night for the hosts.

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AP cricket: https://apnews.com/hub/cricket