Remember Virat Kohli’s monumental knock against New Zealand in the ICC World Cup semi-final? The knock paved the way for Kohli to topple Sachin Tendulkar as the modern-day great became the first batter to slam 50 One Day International (ODI) centuries. Of course, everyone fondly remembers Kohli’s majestic knock against the Black Caps. Just like Mohammed Shami’s unbelievable bowling performance against Kane Williamson and Co. that propelled India to the summit clash of the ICC World Cup.

Mohammed Shami celebrates the wicket of Australia’s David Warner during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 final (PTI)

Chasing a massive target of 398 in the semi-finals, New Zealand were cruising with skipper Williamson batting on 69 off 72 balls and Daryl Mitchell, who ended up scoring a century. For the Kiwis, the tie turned on its head when Shami got the better of the New Zealand skipper in the 32nd over. Shami architected India’s stunning comeback and the speed merchant also won the Player of the Match for his bowling heroics. Shami emerged as the leading wicket-getter for India at the grandest stage of them all. There is no denying that the star pacer was India’s hero at the World Cup 2023.

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Shami emerges as hero at World Cup

Roped in as a bowling replacement for seamer Hardik Pandya after the all-rounder picked up an ankle injury, Shami made his World Cup 2023 debut against New Zealand. He overshadowed Kohli’s batting brilliance with his match-winning fifer in the rematch of the 2019 World Cup semi-final. The veteran pacer helped India end its World Cup jinx against the Black Caps. In the lead-up to the knockout phase, the senior fast bowler became the leading wicket-taker for the Men In Blue in the history of the ICC event. The 33-year-old achieved the staggering feat during India’s round-robin fixture against Sri Lanka.

Shami targetted by trolls: What was ‘Sajdah’ controversy?

Shami was visibly emotional after his historic five-wicket haul sealed India’s win over the 1996 champions. However, Shami was targeted by trolls, who mistook his on-field gesture for something else following the end of the contest. Shami’s critics launched a vicious attack on the pacer on social media. Days after the 2023 World Cup, pacer Shami silenced his critics with a noteworthy statement. During an interview, the Indian pacer was asked about his on-field antics after taking the memorable five-wicket haul against Sri Lanka.

‘I will say it with pride that I am a Muslim’

“There was one match where you took five wickets and then kneeled on the ground. Then from Pakistan, on social media, there came posts that said ‘Mohammed Shami is an Indian Muslim. He wants to do Sajda (prayer), but he was afraid to do it in India'” an anchor asked Shami on Aaj Tak.

“If I wanted to pray, who could stop me? I won’t stop anyone from praying. If I want to pray, I will pray. What’s the problem in this? I will say it with pride that I am a Muslim. I will say it with pride that I am an Indian. What’s the problem in that? If I have to ask permission to pray from someone, then why should I be in this country? Have I ever prayed after taking a 5-wicket haul before? I have taken many five-wicket hauls. You tell me where you have to pray, and I will go and pray there,” Shami responded.

Shami for Arjuna Award: What World Cup records India star created?

Shami surpassed Zaheer Khan and Javagal Srinath to become the highest wicket-taker for India at the World Cup. Shami picked his 45th wicket to rewrite history at the time. The India fast bowler remarkably achieved the stunning feat in just 14 innings. He also became the fastest bowler to take 50 wickets at the ODI World Cup. The highest-wicket taker at the 2023 World Cup, India’s Shami had 24 scalps under his belt. After a fruitful World Cup, speedster Shami is nominated for the Arjuna Award.