Suryakumar Yadav lit up the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) with a whirlwind unbeaten 61 in 25 balls as India crushed Zimbabwe by 71 runs and stormed into the semi-finals as Group 2 toppers in the ICC men’s T20 World Cup here tonight.
India had already qualified for the last four by the time the match commenced at the MCG and made sure that they topped the six-team group with their fourth victory in five matches.
Surya struck four sixes and six fours, carting the bowlers all around, while K L Rahul smashed 51 in 35 balls, laced with three sixes and as many fours, to power India to 186 for 5 in front of a crowd in excess of 82,000 spectators.
In reply, Zimbabwe were never in the hunt after slumping to 36 for five and finally ended up with a meagre tally of 115.
India, thus, earned the right to take on Group 1 runners-up England in the second semi-final of the tournament at the Adelaide Oval on November 10.
Pakistan, who finished second in Group 2 behind India with six points, will take on Group 1 winners New Zealand in the first semi-final at the Sydney Cricket Ground on November 9.
New Zealand and England had qualified yesterday as the top two teams from Group 1 and in the process eliminated defending champions Australia from the race.
Earlier on Sunday, Netherlands sent shock waves by defeating South Africa by 13 runs in the opening match at the Adelaide Oval, thus knocking out the Proteas from the fray, and the result put India in the semis ahead of their final group match against Zimbabwe.
Pakistan, whose sinking hopes were given a fresh lease of life by South Africa’s upset defeat, grabbed the unexpected gift with both hands and hammered Bangladesh by five wickets to enter the last four as the second team from Group 2 with six points.
The Indian innings, after captain Rohit Sharma opted to bat first against Zimbabwe, was built mainly around the half centuries from Rahul, his second of the tournament, and the world’s number one ranked T20 player Surya, who composed his third half century in five games in the tournament.
The two joined forces at 87 in the 12th over and, although Rahul departed when the total read 95 in the 13th, the 32-year-old Mumbai-born Surya made sure the total ended up a highly challenging one with his audacious shots.
India added 99 runs in 8.1 overs once Surya, who has been in phenomenal form in the T20 format this year with over 1200 runs to his credit, came to the wicket and the last five overs yielded 79 runs.
Surya, in the company of Hardik Pandya (18), went hammer and tongs at the Zimbabwe bowlers as the two added 65 runs in under six overs for the fifth wicket.
Chasing the stiff target, Zimbabwe lost a wicket off the first ball and then were 28 for 3 at the end of power play.
They lost two more wickets with just 36 on the board before the innings was revived by a 60-run stand between the hard-hitting Ryan Burl (35 in 22 balls) and the consistent Sikandar Raza (34 in 24 balls).
Off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin broke the sixth wicket stand by dismissing Burl and the innings once again declined sharply and the innings ended in just 17.2 overs.
Ashwin took 3 for 22 after the pacers had done the early damage. Mohammed Shami grabbed 2 for 14, Hardik Pandya claimed 2 for 16 while Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Hardik Pandya and left arm spinner Axar Patel completed the wicket tally with a wicket apiece.