The toss The pitch report prior to the game suggested that it was a tacky wicket at the Manchester for the semifinal. We all know that such pitches usually produce low scoring games and it's pretty tough to chase on such tracks because as the game progresses, it slows down and starts turning square. It also holds back and provides a spongy bounce to the pacers hence the toss is always crucial. Kiwis won the toss and as expected, they elected to bat first. Their first inning total which looked like a small target for India proved to be too much in the end.
Crafty Chahal After the initial damage, Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson stitched down a decent partnership of 65 to bring New Zealand back in the game. The partnership looked well set to take on the Indian bowlers in the slog overs but Chahal got him off a beautiful top spinner. The ball drifted in and then it ripped away at a pace which Williamson couldn't keep out and he spooned it to Jadeja at point. Jadeja never drops them; he can catch those even in his sleep.
The rain, yep once again Any cricket tournament in England is incomplete without rain. It arrived in the 47th over and as India allowed New Zealand to sneak in a double via some poor throw, umpires decided that it's enough. They called in the covers and the game of cat and mouse began. The officials kept on waiting for a full five hours and then they called off the game. The game advanced into the reserve day which ensured a sleepless night for over a billion people. The rain turned out to be a disaster for India because they lost the momentum and the pitch, which had to be kept under the covers for over 16 hours, got saggy in the second inning.
The umpire's call India lost their leading scorer of the tournament, Rohit Sharma early as he edged one to Latham. Virat Kohli walked in and he had the task of blunting down the furious Kiwi opening pair of Boult and Henry. Virat edged the very first ball he faced but he was lucky as it died down before it could reach the fielder. Unfortunately he was not lucky enough to avoid the umpire's call as he got struck in front of the stumps. Boult tested him from ball one and he narrowly escaped an edge on the first ball of the third over. After angling a couple of ball away from him, Boult noticed the big shuffle of Virat Kohli and he brought two of them back at him. Virat managed to clip one to the square leg but he missed the next one and after a bit of appeal, the umpire raised his finger. A distraught Kohli reviewed the decision but it turned out to be the umpire's call with the ball just clipping the off stump.
The throw that sent India back home Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni got India back in the game via one of the best partnerships of the tournament. It all came down to 31 runs off two overs and India had M.S.Dhoni on the crease - someone who has been doing this for India since the past 15 years. He has chased down the targets under similar circumstances for quite a few times in the past. The 49th over started with M.S.Dhoni smashing one over point. A dot ball followed and the pressure mounted. Dhoni fended awkwardly at the third ball and as the ball rolled down to the fine leg, Martin Guptill got to the ball like a bunny and fired a throw at the keeper's end with a hawk's eye. He nailed in the throw and the replays confirmed that M.S.Dhoni was an inch short of his ground. Martin Guptill who had a poor tournament with the bat so far, threw India out of the world cup and led his team to the final.
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India played great cricket in the tournament and showed some phenomenal performances during the WC. Rohit Sharma, no doubt is a valuable asset for the team besides other talented cricketers like Chahal, Bhubaneshwar Kumar, Kohli and Dhoni.
Despite losing three to four quick wickets and then back to back blows to the Indian batting line up, it was Jadeja who lifted the hopes of winning the semis with his flamboyant and sensible knock. But in the 47th over, trying to really finish it off, Jadeja tried to hit a massive six but couldn't execute it and Williamson easily took the catch. Jadeja fell on 77 off 59. This was a big jolt and then all hopes crashed with a runout when Dhoni was caught short of the crease by Guptill's cracking throw.
The performance by Jadeja and Dhoni under pressure were commendable. Despite playing great cricket, it wasn't India's day. Hard luck!