World Cup 2019: Win over India can serve as inspiration for New Zealand in final against England
India need 52 runs to win with four wickets in hand. M.S. Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja are at the crease. They've steadied the Indian ship with a crucial 106-run partnership. Trent Boult has the ball in hand and the stage is set for an enthralling finish.
New Zealand’s premier bowler runs in and Jadeja pushes the ball to the vacant leg-side area. Jadeja and Dhoni run with purpose and complete a second run. Two singles are scored off the next two balls followed by a streaky four, nicked past slip, to help India get closer to the finish line. The Indian fans are starting to believe that the pair out in the middle would propel them to victory.
Matt Henry bowls the 47th over and concedes only five runs. The run rate is climbing; India need 37 runs from three overs.
Dhoni the key man
Their biggest obstacle is Dhoni, the best finisher in world cricket. There is pressure all around the former Indian skipper, but he seems unaffected by it. He is immersed in his own battle, intensely focused on winning the match for his side. He knows that if he bats until the 50th over, India will win the match.
Boult charges in once more and concedes only five runs from the first four balls of the 48th over. The pressure is building; India have to do something drastic soon. Sure enough, Jadeja tries to hit a six off the next ball but miscues it, allowing Kane Williamson to settle under a simple catch.
India now need 31 runs off two overs with just one recognised batsman at the crease. Dhoni takes matters into his own hands and smashes the first ball of the 49th over over square for a six to get India back in the game. However, to the dismay of all the fans in the stadium and those watching back home, he is run-out two balls later.
He nudges the ball to Martin Guptill and takes off for a couple. Guptill swoops in on the ball, picks it up and hurls it onto the stumps. The incident is reviewed but the word ‘out’ is plastered on the big screen to send a teary-eyed Dhoni back to the pavilion.
India are eventually bowled out for 221 runs, handing New Zealand a berth in the final. The stadium is filled with contrasting emotions: euphoria for the Kiwi supporters and despair for the Indian fans.
The victory is even more satisfying for the Black Caps because nobody expected them to win in the first place.
With five wins in six group matches, New Zealand sat pretty at the top of the table, filled with confidence. Their captain was in sensational form, having struck two successive centuries, against South Africa and the West-Indies.
However, disaster struck and the Kiwis lost their last three matches, against Pakistan, Australia and England.
They scraped through to the semi-finals on net run rate, but the cracks were there for all to see. Pundits singled out their opening woes, as well as an over-reliance on Williamson, as the biggest problems plaguing the side. The bowling and fielding were brilliant as always, but the batting poor.
After the sudden wobble, everybody wrote off the Kiwis' chances of advancing to the final. However, the players had an unwavering belief in themselves.
This brings us back to the semi-final against India. New Zealand’s bowlers were tenacious, making life difficult for India’s batsmen. They kept calm under pressure and… the rest is history.
The Kiwis will undoubtedly use this magnificent semi-final win as inspiration to record another upset, this time against England in Sunday’s final.