It was a day of ups and downs which ended with a heartbreak for a billion plus Indian fans around the globe. The fancied Indian side which was believed to just walk over New Zealand into the finals of the 2019 ODI world cup shockingly crashed to an 18 run defeat at the hands of the disciplined Kiwis.
Rain Played Spoilsport, Top Order Failed:
The match which ran over for two days because of the rain interruptions finally brought the kiwis to life as they made it to their consecutive world cup final and if Australia beats England tomorrow then we are going to have a replay of the world cup 2015 all over again.
Team India which showed splendid form throughout the league phase was unable to chase a paltry total of 240 as their top order succumbed to some high class fast bowling from Trent Boult and Matt Henry. India lost Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul, all three of their batting mainstays for a mere 5 runs as all three batsmen scored just a single run each.
The Indian batting has been all about the top 3 scoring almost all the runs for Team India in this world cup and it all came to an end when it mattered the most.
Middle Order Looked Rusty
It was just a matter of time given the situation of the Indian middle order but they fought. They fought against all odds and tried. Young Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya curbed their natural games to stabilize the Indian innings as both scored 32 runs each from 56 and 62 balls respectively before both fell attempting to go big against Mitchell Santner.
The situation was still precarious at 92 for 6 in the 31st over when Ravindra Jadeja joined MS Dhoni in the middle. Dhoni held one end up as he usually does as Jadeja bravely went about hitting sixes to get the required run rate in control. What looked like a cameo in the beginning started to turn into one of the finest lower order batting performance ever in an almost hopeless looking chase. Where all other batsmen failed to get any timing from their bats, Sir Jadeja as lovingly called by fans, put on some serious show with some miraculous hitting to put India right back on the highway as Dhoni and Jadeja kept getting 9 to 10 runs an over as required.
Dhoni- Jadeja held together Indian Innings, but couldn’t finish
Dhoni and Jadeja got the 100 runs of their partnership off just 90 deliveries to get India within the sight of the target and more importantly gave everyone the belief. 37 were required off the last 3 overs and it looked like India were about to pull off an impossible act with the way Jadeja was batting but the luck turned as Jadeja skied one high up in search of a boundary to fall straight into the hands of Kane Williamson off the bowling of Trent Boult in the 48th Over.
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It looked like Dhoni`s inability to find boundaries since a long time put extra pressure on Jadeja and he perished under it. Dhoni`s approach of just giving Jadeja the strike with singles and sometimes even playing dot balls looked alright until a couple of overs ago but as the required run rate touched 12 runs an over, this approach came to haunt in form of Jadeja`s wicket. Everything rested on Dhoni’s shoulders now and he tried as well but could not carry the team past the finishing line.
With 31 required off the last 2 overs, Dhoni muscled away a huge six over point off the first ball of the 49th over from Lockie Ferguson to the joy of everyone present in the stadium only to fall a delivery later. Dhoni was run out off a direct hit from Martin Guptill as he tried to take a double to keep the strike to himself, sending the crowd into absolute silence. Bhuvneshwar and Chahal were dismissed in another 5 balls as the Indian innings painfully folded at 221 runs, 18 runs shy of the target. Matt Henry scalped 3 wickets while Boult and Santner got 2 each to wreck the Indian innings.
Earlier, New Zealand had won the toss and batted first to win half the match before it even started as has been evident through out the world cup. The Indian team were counting on their bowlers to restrict New Zealand to a getable total and they did not disappoint as Bumrah got Martin Guptill early for just 1 run off 14 deliveries to peg the kiwis back. The going was tough as the wicket was terribly slow and the tight lines from Indian bowlers made matters worse.
It was almost a test match going on if one was see the strike rates of all New Zealand batsmen. A 65 run stand in 17 overs between Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor proved critical as New Zealand mustered 239 runs for the loss off 8 wickets. Rain had stopped play yesterday when New Zealand were 211 for 5 in 46.1 overs and as per the rules of the world cup, the match resumed today from where it was.
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There could be a lot of ifs and buts as to what led to this Indian debacle but the only sane reason is that the Kiwis handled the pressure of the big game better than India. The pitch helped the kiwi pacers in the beginning as the ball seamed around quite a bit in the first 5-6 overs and that was the period which should have been played out but India had lost Rohit, Rahul, Virat and Hope in that time.
New Zealand 239/8 (50 overs)
India 221 all out (49.3 overs)
Player of the Match: Matt Henry