Vulnerability to the new ball led India’s top three batsmen to collapse in a heap for five runs in the semi-final
The two slow half-centuries from Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor turned out to be gold dust for New Zealand
There were a record five World Cup centuries by Rohit Sharma, a century from his makeshift opening partner K.L. Rahul, five back-to-back 50s from skipper Virat Kohli. Then all three collapsed in a heap for five runs in the semi-final when there was no second chance.
Dinesh Karthik continued his poor run and it was four down.
It’s the old vulnerability to the new ball when there’s swing in the air and movement off the pitch on a damp day. We saw it time and again on the England tour last year. Now it came back to bite India when wet weather brought the best out of the Kiwi bowling attack.
Rising young stars Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya had the opportunity of their lives to be national heroes. They got through the difficult period, the ball stopped swinging or seaming, but it wasn’t to be. Both love to hit the spinner and both perished to Mitchell Santner on the identical score of 32, with identical hoiks to mid-wicket, one left-handed and the other right-handed.
The way Ravindra Jadeja batted with M.S. Dhoni showed how gettable that target of 240 was even after the loss of those four early wickets. They took the score from 92 for 6 to 208 in the 48th over. Jadeja’s heroic 77 in 59 balls ended with a miscued hit off Trent Boult, attempting a big hit with 32 needed in 14 balls.
Dhoni kept his composure to take the game deep as we’ve seen so many times before. But did he leave too much for Jadeja to do? Could he have taken a few chances himself? That debate will go on.
Dhoni’s last World Cup ended with a run-out off a direct hit from Martin Guptill, after he had thumped Lockie Ferguson’s bouncer over the point boundary for a six to start the 49th over.
Seeing that six, some will feel Dhoni had the power and skill to hit boundaries earlier, taking a chance when the right ball came along, like Jadeja did. With nine an over needed in the last 10 overs, and 10 an over in the last five, it required both batsmen to be firing. However, Dhoni played it his way with singles and twos, leaving all the big hits to Jadeja. It didn’t come off in the end this time.
The bowlers had done marvellously the previous day to restrict New Zealand to 239. Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja kept the Kiwis on a leash and took wickets. Pandya went off the ground with a groin injury after four overs, but came back to complete his quota. Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal was the only one who bowled a couple of loose overs to concede 63, but he got the prize wicket of Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson.
Then the weather intervened to push the game into the reserve day. The Kiwis had copped criticism for lack of intent right through their innings.
However, the two slow half-centuries from their most experienced players Williamson and Ross Taylor turned out to be gold dust.
This was as strong a side as any India has fielded in a World Cup. The world’s top two ODI batsmen, the top ODI bowler and the most experienced team. It doesn’t get better than this.
But it wasn’t their day at Manchester.
They needed to see off that new ball in the first 10 overs but lost four wickets. They needed their young power-hitters to rein themselves in for a modest target and just bat out the 50 overs. But they weren’t up to it.
Kohli will now have to wait till 2023 to try and emulate Dhoni in winning the Cup at home.