A late fight from MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja was not enough to make amends for the abysmal form of the top order, who went down like ninepins against a spirited Kiwi bowling attack.
In a rare occurrence, the semifinal clash between India and New Zealand required a reserve day after incessant rains had forced play to be stopped near the end of the Black Caps' innings. This was the first ever instance of a World Cup knockout match being postponed due to rain.
Coincidentally, the group stage match between these two teams was also washed out due to persistent rainfall.
Team India entered this clash as the firm favorites, having won seven of their group stage matches to top the table. New Zealand, on the other hand, had stumbled after a bright start, with losses to Pakistan, Australia, and England denting their confidence.
India started the game in fine fashion as the new ball bowlers applied early pressure. Martin Guptill’s woeful form continued as he edged a Jasprit Bumrah delivery to Virat Kohli at second slip.
The Black Caps struggled to get bat on ball and ended with the lowest powerplay score of this World Cup. A cover drive from Henry Nicholls brought up New Zealand's first boundary in the eighth over. Even though they had steadied the ship, the number of dots kept accumulating, adding to the pressure.
Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor looked like getting the Kiwis to a fighting total, however, the skipper was dismissed by Yuzvendra Chahal to put New Zealand on the back foot once again.
Near the end of their innings, the skies opened up and play was abandoned. The match was subsequently postponed to the reserve day.
The Kiwis managed just 28 runs from 23 balls once play resumed on the next day and they ended with a total of just 239 on the board.
A win for Team India seemed like a mere formality at that stage. However, the real drama began with the start of the Indian Innings. The ball started swinging, leaving the mighty Indian batsmen spellbound.
Matt Henry struck first, forcing Rohit Sharma to poke at one away from his body. Trent Boult then won his battle against Kohli, trapping him in front of the stumps.
The Indian batting then crumbled under the pressure. Dinesh Karthik was caught at backward point as Jimmy Neesham dived and pulled off a screamer. Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya steadied the ship, but their dismissals left India reeling at 92-6.
However, MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja built a partnership, renewing hope in the Indian fans. Jadeja raced off to his half-century, while Dhoni stood firm as a rock at the other end.
Just as India looked like they had a fighting chance, Jadeja skied one off Boult, with the ball nestling in Williamson's palms. Indian fans were then completely silenced when Guptill ran out Dhoni with a direct hit. The two remaining wickets fell soon enough, and the Black Caps secured their spot in the final.
Team India will now have to introspect and find out the underlying causes for their batting collapse.
New Zealand, on the other hand, will look forward to their summit clash against either England or Australia.
Also read – World cup winners listPublished 10 Jul 2019, 21:13 IST