ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: India falters when it mattered most

Omkar Paranjape
Thursday, 11 July 2019

The Indian batting line-up wilts under serious pressure from the opening spell by Matt Henry and Trent Boult

MANCHESTER: The pattern was the same, just the venue changed. During the 2017 Champions Trophy final, Pakistan’s Mohammed Amir ran havoc with a scintillating opening spell to rattle India’s top order-chasing a stiff total. 

Everything was eerily similar to June 17, 2017. No one gave New Zealand a chance, just like no one gave Pakistan a chance then. And on Wednesday - the reserve day for the semi-final mind you, New Zealand bowlers didn’t give Indian batsmen any. 

So rather than India heading to Lord’s on Sunday, it is New Zealand who are into the final for the second successive tournament, four years after losing to Australia.

They will either face their trans-Tasman foes in a rematch, or hosts England depending on the result of Thursday’s second semi-final at Edgbaston.

Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya weathered the storm adding 47 off 77 balls, but questionable shot selections from either batsman ended their fight.

New Zealand may not have scored enough runs, but those who were cursing them for scoring slow, realised just how important knocks Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor played, the type which went missing from India.

Matt Henry had Rohit Sharma nicking to Latham in the second over. Two overs later, Kohli walked across the stumps a bit too much and was given out LBW, a review not able to save him. As for KL Rahul, long, lingering issue of playing a good length delivery had him poking away and edging.

Dinesh Karthik took 21 balls to score his first runs - a boundary but his painstaking innings was snapped courtesy a stunning one-handed screamer from Neesham at point.

Pant and Pandya did the right thing - played out Boult, Henry. Pant, on 17, was put down by Neesham off the first ball from Lockie Ferguson but gained confidence with a few crisp boundaries. Mitchell Santner’s introduction added to their woes, who gave away just five runs in his first five overs. 

His precession was rewarded when Pant and Pandya slog-swept him and holed out.

Dhoni and Jadeja, the last two recognised batsmen were tied down initially. India went more than 12 overs without a boundary before the deadlock was broken by Jadeja, advancing to Neesham, gave India their first six.

The crowd, which had been forced into a mournful silence received a second wind as Jadeja collected a boundary each of Henry, Ferguson and Santner. A six over cow corner off Santner had the crowd up on their feet again.

For a change, Dhoni’s 29 off 55 was put at the backburner with Jadeja’s entertainment. After the 50-partnership was raised between the two, Jadeja scampered for a double to bring up his fifty, followed by his customary bat swing celebration and a little message pointed towards the commentary box. With 62 needed off 36, Jadeja gave himself room and drilled Ferguson down the ground. With a dab to fine leg, the 100 partnership was up and India had returned from the dead.

But New Zealand applied the squeeze nicely in the last five overs. Jadeja top-edged Boult to lob a simple catch to Kane Williamson, and even though Dhoni cut a six off Lockie Ferguson, Guptill struck with a direct hit to deal India a body blow.

Earlier, as the skies cleared to bring out a sunny Wednesday in Old Trafford, New Zealand could add just 28 runs to their overnight score of 211 and lost three wickets to finish on 239/8.

India landed on the English shores with a clear weakness amongst the ranks. Their batting looked dependent on the exploits of Sharma and Kohli. And as the duo were eliminated early, India were exposed badly in the middle overs at Old Trafford. Faltering at the penultimate hurdle in the World Cup will hurt a few, but they must pick themselves up and keep on marching.

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