Remember those good old days when 250 was always considered to be a challenging total in ODI cricket? Those were the days when cricket was not dominated by batsmen because of flat tracks and short boundaries. There was a perfect balance between bat and ball, which kept both batsmen and bowlers in the game throughout the 100 overs.
Yesterday's game between South Africa and New Zealand at the World Cup 2019 was a truly nostalgic experience. It took us back to the 90s and early 2000s, when things were very different in the cricket world than they are today.
The target set was around 250, the chasing team started well but a fiery spell in the middle overs brought the bowling team back into the game, a good partnership shifted the momentum in favor of the batting team and in the end it all came down to the pressure handling ability of both teams.
It was a two-paced wicket that troubled the batsmen from both teams. The South African batsmen understood this quickly and played with an intent to reach a score around 250 instead of blindly going for a 300-plus score. The experienced Hashim Amla scored a sensible 50 and that was followed by a calculative innings from Rassie van der Dussen.
Unlike most batsmen of his generation, Van der Dussen has the game to adapt to challenging conditions. He played the anchor role to perfection to take South Africa to a decent total of 241 for 6 wickets after 49 overs.
The second innings started in a similar fashion with Colin Munro departing early, but New Zealand recovered well with a 60-run partnership for the second wicket. What followed after that had a particularly nostalgic feel to it.
Martin Guptil got out via a bizarre hit wicket, and this led to a small collapse with Chris Morris running through the New Zealand middle order. The ball was dominating the bat and a quick turnaround was needed to shift the momentum, which was provided by Kane Williamson.
The captain stood like a wall, holding on to one end in a tough phase of the game. And later he gave the finishing touches to take New Zealand to a hard-fought victory. He was well-supported by Colin de Grandhomme with a useful 60 off 47 balls.
South Africa bowled tight but failed to handle the pressure in the crucial stages of the game. Missed run out chances and dropped catches hurt them big time. But like most classic games, it was a world class batsman who was the difference between the two sides at the end.
Also read – World cup head to head stats