World Cup 2019: India knocked out by New Zealand in Manchester thriller

Efficiency trumped flair and Kane Williamson’s men showed that they could win without a snarl. Pursuing New Zealand’s 239 for eight, India finished with 221 in 49.3 overs.

India's dream run in World Cup 2019 ended with a narrow 18-run loss against New Zealand in the semifinal.   -  GETTY IMAGES

The bugles were silenced, drums got discarded and disbelief reigned. For the Indian fans, a boisterous morning slipped into an afternoon of melancholy despite Ravindra Jadeja’s incredible knock as New Zealand stunned Virat Kohli’s men in the World Cup semifinal at Old Trafford here on Wednesday.

Efficiency trumped flair and Kane Williamson’s men showed that they could win without a snarl. Pursuing New Zealand’s 239 for eight, India finished with 221 in 49.3 overs. Jadeja’s 77 (59b, 4x4, 4x6) was pulse-pounding but it was fated to end in tragedy while the Kiwis snatched an 18-run victory. 

As it happened| Jadeja heroics in vain as India bows out of World Cup

Modest targets can be tricky and India needed a solid start but instead, a nightmare ensued. Rohit Sharma nibbled at a Matt Henry (three for 37) delivery, the edge was grazed, wicket-keeper Tom Latham caught with glee and boom, the World Cup’s most prolific batsman departed.

A pitiful procession

The Indian top-order came undone by a brilliant spell of bowling from the New Zealand seamers.   -  getty images

 

Joy for the Black Caps came in waves. For the addition of a single run, India lost two wickets. Kohli missed some from Trent Boult as the left-armer’s angle was tough to counter. The speedster then got one to straighten and Kohli, who tends to shuffle a bit more in his initial tenure, did that while trying to wrist one to the leg-side. The Indian captain missed, the pad got struck and Boult’s appeal bellowed from the pit of his stomach.

Kohli was adjudged out, he promptly sought a review and though the replays hinted that the ball was going over the bails, it was an ‘umpire’s call’ decision and the agitated batsman left.

At five for two, the queasiness in the Indian dressing room, worsened as K.L. Rahul fell to Henry. The delivery hovering near the off-stump, rose and Rahul, who was riding the bounce, failed to withdraw his bat and Latham found another welcome thud into his gloves. India five for three and the fires raged.

Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik tried to resist, the former driving, the latter stone-walling and going 20 balls without a run. Karthik then clipped a four off Boult and just as the initial nerves eased, James Neesham sprinkled magic on the turf. Karthik sliced Henry and as the ball raced beyond backward-point, Neesham dived to his left, and his left hand reflexively darted out and plucked a catch for the ages. India 24 for four in 10 overs and in dire straits.

The game is a leveller though and when Pant flicked Lockie Ferguson, the uppish stroke popped out of Neesham’s hands at short mid-wicket! Pant and Hardik Pandya shared a 47-run fifth-wicket alliance but India was always behind the Duckworth-Lewis par score. And then Pant tried to deposit left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner over mid-wicket, except that he found Colin de Grandhomme. India 71 for five in the 23rd over and the crowd yearned for a miracle.

M.S. Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja revived India's chase with a fighting century stand.   -  getty images

 

Dhoni, Jadeja revive chase

M.S. Dhoni (50) and Pandya nudged the scoreboard but as the required rate went past seven, the pressure was bound to tell. It did emphatically when Pandya miscued a slog-sweep off Santner and a patient Williamson tumbled and still held on. India 92 for six, down for the count and in walks Jadeja with rebellious ideas.

While Dhoni remained calm, Jadeja turned aggressor, lofting Neesham and Henry for sixes and the crowd was alive. A stirring act took shape and when Jadeja etched his 50, besides the usual Rajput twirl of the bat, he gesticulated towards the commentary box, perhaps an admonition to Sanjay Manjrekar, who recently made some critical remarks.

Pressure takes a toll

M.S. Dhoni run-out off a brilliant direct hit from Martin Guptill brought down the curtain on India's campaign in World Cup 2019.   -  getty images

 

Jadeja rode his luck as a few shots teased the fielders but a massive six off Ferguson showed that the battle wasn’t over yet and a hope-gifting partnership enthused the audience. Jadeja and Dhoni added 116 off 112 deliveries for the seventh-wicket but New Zealand could not be denied. Jadeja’s attempt to clout Boult proved fatal and Martin Guptill’s sensational throw left Dhoni stranded. The rest wilted and David had indeed quelled Goliath.

Earlier, resuming at the overnight 211 for five in 46.1 overs, New Zealand added 28 runs while losing three wickets with Jadeja’s terrific fielding accounting for Ross Taylor (74) and Latham. Still, New Zealand set a challenging target that eventually became insurmountable.