New Zealand reached their second successive World Cup final after dramatically toppling India by 18 runs at Old Trafford in Manchester on Wednesday.
Star batsmen Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli had misfired at Old Trafford. India lost key batsmen Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul for just one run each as they slumped to five for three and were 24 for four when Dinesh Karthik was out for six. But India recovered to 150 for 6 off 40 overs, needing a further 90 runs off the remaining 60 balls to reach a victory target of 240 at Old Trafford. With Dhoni around, Jadeja made sure he got the big hits out of the way almost every over. He smashed sixes at will and kept things under control at all times even with Dhoni just content with collecting singles.
Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni produced a 116-run partnership to drag the 2011 winners back in contention. But a stupendous 47th over from Matt Henry where he went for just five runs changed the complexion of the game. Boult got the huge wicket of Jadeja in the next over with the left-hander skying a good length delivery to Williamson for 75.
The moment of the match though came from Martin Guptill. Dhoni tucked the ball to the on side and going for a second run was run out for 50 courtesy a direct hit from Guptill that all but sealed the game. Neesham got the final wicket of Yuzvendra Chahal to spark celebrations in the New Zealand camp. Henry returned 3 for 37 from his ten overs and was named Man of the Match. The Kiwis will therefore face England or Australia in Sunday’s showpiece at Lord’s after successfully defending 239 for eight.
Earlier, Resuming on 211/5 on Wednesday, New Zealand finished on 239/8 in their 50 overs after rain interrupted play at 46.1 overs into their innings on Tuesday.
Jasprit Bumrah had spoken about the wickets slowing down as the 2019 World Cup moved towards the business end and it was evident during the first semi-final at the Old Trafford as the Indian bowlers made full use of the conditions after Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson won the toss and decided to bat first.
Ross Taylor was the only bright spot for New Zealand as he hit a 90-ball 74 before being run out by a direct hit from Ravindra Jadeja in the 48th over. Jadeja then followed it up with a brilliant catch off the first ball of the next over from Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3/43) as Tom Latham had to walk off for 10. Earlier, Williamson also played his hand to hit a 95-ball 67 on Tuesday as former cricketers criticized the slowness of the pitch for the crucial encounter.
Slower bouncers, cutters and the knuckle balls ruled the roost as the Indian bowlers showed why they are considered one of the best in world cricket at present. Even as the team management surprised many by deciding to drop the in-form Mohammad Shami, the trio of Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar and all-rounder Hardik Pandya showed that they were up for the challenge.
Left-arm spinner Jadeja ensured that the foot was on the pedal even in the middle overs after the Kiwi batsmen looked to play off the new ball and finished the powerplay with the score on 27/1. The fate didn”t change much after the initial burst from the Indian bowlers as the duo of Henry Nicholls and Kane Williamson struggled to adapt to the slowness of the wicket after Bumrah sent back Martin Guptill for just 1, caught brilliantly by skipper Virat Kohli in the slip cordon.
Such was the struggle of the Kiwi openers that the first run in the innings came in the 3rd over of the innings, the 17th ball to be more specific. And as they say, morning did show the day as it was a struggle for the New Zealand batsmen right through. In fact, even the in-form Williamson looked a pale shadow of his natural self as he looked to dig in and score some runs for his bowlers to defend.
While Nicholls did all the hardwork, he was dismissed in the 19th over by one from Jadeja that turned just enough to beat the edge of the bat. The 51-ball 28 was just not the knock he would have wanted to play after digging in deep. But it wasn”t any easier for Ross Taylor either as he looked to have hit a rut. In fact, at one stage he wasn”t even able to pick the singles. But the two did try their best to spend as much time in the middle to stretch the partnership and keep wickets in the bag.
Taylor was given a half-life on 22 as M.S. Dhoni failed to latch onto one that dropped almost in front of his gloves off Bumrah. A front leap instead of one sideways could have seen him pick that up. Having picked another fifty in the tournament, Williamson was finally dismissed against the run of play by Chahal as one seemed to grip just enough to have the skipper play it early. The literal lob was gobbled up by Jadeja behind point as Williamson walked back for a 95-ball 67 in the 36th over.
The move to have Jimmy Neesham come in as a pinch-hitter didn”t work any wonders as he managed just 12 off 18 balls. Taylor continued his struggle and was also saved by DRS after the umpire gave him out on 56. While rain then cut short the innings on Tuesday, the Kiwis managed to score 28 runs off the remaining 23 balls for the loss of three wickets on Wednesday. 84 runs came off the last 10 overs.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi appreciated Indian Cricket team’s fighting spirit in the semi-final of the ICC Cricket World Cup. PM Modi tweeted: A disappointing result, but good to see Team India’s fighting spirit till the very end. India batted, bowled, fielded well throughout the tournament, of which we are very proud. Wins and losses are a part of life. Best wishes to the team for their future endeavours.
New Zealand: 239 for 8 in 50 overs. (Ross Taylor 73, Kane Williamson 67; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3/43, Jasprit Bumrah 1/39).
India: 221 all out in 49.3 overs (Ravindra Jadeja 77, Mahendra Singh Dhoni 50; Matt Henry 3/37, Mitchell Santner 2/34, Trent Boult 2/42).
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