Manchester: Ravindra Jadeja and Mahendra Singh Dhoni almost carried India to the threshold of Lord’s for the World Cup 2019 final on Sunday through a fighting 116-run partnership, but New Zealand stuck to a spirited and accurate gameplan to make their second final in a row on Wednesday.
Sinking the large turnout of Indian fans at the Old Trafford into sorrow, India were slipping down the slope on account of a major top-order collapse in chasing a target of 240 before New Zealand’s accurate bowling at the Old Trafford.
New Zealand posted a moderate total of 239 for nine but held on to win by 18 runs. Riding on contributions at the right time from their star batsmen Kane Williamson (67) and Ross Taylor (74) and bowling lead by Matt Henry (3 for 37), Trent Boult and Mitchell Santner with two wickets each, they bowled out India for 221 in 49.3 overs. Despite the match extending to a reserve day, New Zealand played like champions on both the days and will now take on the winners of Australia-England match to be played at Edgbaston on Thursday.
Jadeja, whom Indian commentator and former Test star Sanjay Manjrekar in a twitter war addressed as a ‘bits-and-pieces player’, led the battle to the rival camp with an counter-attacking 77 off 59 balls with four boundaries and as many sixes. Dhoni, who has been constantly criticised as an ageing cricketer, played the second fiddle through a 50 off 72 balls.
Whether he will be lauded for the inspiring support or criticised again for his lone boundary and six, one will have to wait and watch. However, in the context of the superstars of Indian batting failing at the top, it was a valuable knock. India were 24 for four at one stage and for the team to battle until the last over is indeed creditable. It was only after Dhoni got run out that New Zealand could be sure that they would win the match.
Jadeja’s half-century was his first fifty since September 5, 2014, when he hit his career-best 87 against England at Leeds. It was a shocking start to the Indian chase, who needed just 4.8 runs per over to reach the target. The Indian batsmen knew that with the wicket being slow, it would never be an easy task to chase and reach the score.
Rohit Sharma, the man with five centuries, three of them successive, in this World Cup, poked at the ball outside the off stump to wicketkeeper Latham. In the third over, Boult silenced the Indian fans by trapping Indian skipper Virat Kohli leg before for one and even a review could not save the Indian skipper.
Lokesh Rahul (1), fell to the first ball of the fourth over, hanging his bat to a Henry delivery and Latham, diving to almost to the first slip, took the catch. With three of the top Indian batsmen out scoring just one run each and India’s total reading a pathetic six runs with three wickets down, Dinesh Karthik joined young Rishabh Pant. When Pant began to pick the gaps, some life sprang up among the fans but that lasted only for a short while.
Pant and Pandya put on 47 runs when the left-hander, who was stroking beautifully, lost his patience to the tight bowling of left-arm spinner Santner and slog-swept to de Grandhomme for 32. Half the Indian side was back to the pavilion for 71 runs and India still needed 169 from the 27 overs.
The second day of the semi-final began with the question what would happen in the remaining 23 balls that New Zealand had at their disposal. To the 11th ball of the day, New Zealand lost Ross Taylor, the man who should have raced New Zealand to a bigger total, when he got run out to a super throw from Jadeja. It is not without reason that he is hailed as India’s finest fielder — he directly hit the stumps from a distance of 40 yards while Taylor (74) was attempting his second run.
With the next ball, Bhuvneshwar Kumar had overnight batsman Latham out through another brilliant exhibition of Jadeja’s agility in the field, taking the catch at deep midwicket just inside the boundary line.
With the last ball of that over, Kumar also picked the wicket of Matt Henry, who offered a simple catch to Kohli at long on. Bumrah gave just seven runs off the last over, and New Zealand could not manage the 250-run mark, being restricted to 239 for 8.
M. Guptill c Kohli b Bumrah 1
H. Nicholls b Jadeja 28
K. Williamson c Jadeja b Chahal 67
R. Taylor run out (Jadeja) 74
J. Neesham c Karthik b Pandya 12
C. de Grandhomme c Dhoni b Kumar 16
T. Latham c Jadeja b Kumar 10
M. Santner not out 9
M. Henry c Kohli b Kumar 1
T. Boult not out 3
Extras: (5lb, 13w) 18
Total (for 8, 50 overs) 239
Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-69, 3-134, 4-162, 5-200, 6-225, 7-225, 8-232
Did not bat: Lockie Ferguson
Bowling: Bhuvneshwar Kumar 10-1-43-3, Jasprit Bumrah 10-1-39-1, Hardik Pandya 10-0-55-1 (5w), Ravindra Jadeja 10-0-34-1, Yuzvendra Chahal 10-0-63-1 (4w)
L. Rahul c Latham b Henry 1
R. Sharma c Latham b Henry 1
V. Kohli lbw Boult 1
R. Pant c Colin de Grandhomme b Santner 32
D. Karthik c Neesham b Henry 6
H. Pandya c Williamson b Santner 32
M.S. Dhoni Run Out Guptill 50
R. Jadeja c Williamson b Boult 77
B. Kumar b Ferguson 0
Y. Chahal c Latham b Neesham 5
Extras (3lb, 13w) 16
Total (all out 49.3 overs) 221
Fall of Wickets: 1-4 Sharma, 2-5 Kohli, 3-5 Rahul, 4-24 Karthik, 5-71 Pant, 6-92 Pandya, 7-208 Jadeja, 8-216 Dhoni, 9-217 Kumar, 10-221 Chahal
Bowling: Trent Boult 10-2-42-2 (3w), Matt Henry 10-1-37-3 (3w), Lockie Ferguson 10-0-43-1 (2w), Colin de Grandhomme 2-0-13-0 (1w), Jimmy Neesham 7.3-0-49-1 (3w), Mitchell Santner 10-2-34-2 (1w).