Manchester । A fantastic game of cricket ends in heartbreak for India. Ravindra Jadeja put on a show but he failed to conquer as India crashed out of the World Cup after losing to New Zealand by 18 runs in the semifinal at the Old Trafford on Wednesday.
Questions about India’s over dependence on the top-order was time and again shot down by the team management over the past month, but it did finally haunt them on the big stage, the semifinal of the World Cup.
On a wicket tailor-made for the bowlers, Jadeja did play a blinder (77 off 59 balls). But it was too late in the day as the top-order collapse came to haunt India at the end. Credit also goes to the Kiwis for making it to their second consecutive final after finishing runners-up in 2015.
Needing 52 off the last five overs, Jadeja looked to be guiding India home under the tutelage of former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, but Trent Boult had the last laugh as he dismissed Jadeja in the 48th over to bring New Zealand right back into the game. Jadeja’s 77-run knock was the highest in the history of World Cup for a batsman batting at number eight in the second innings, but it was just not enough to take India home.
The untimely run out of Dhoni (50 off 72 balls) in the 49th over was the final nail in the coffin. It was ironic that the man who is known as one of the best judges of run was run out while going for a double. Martin Guptill’s direct hit was too good even for Dhoni.
Chasing 239, India were 92/6 and looking down the barrel before Jadeja joined Dhoni and raised hopes of a counter. In the end, their partnership of 116 runs was the highest in the history of World Cup for the seventh wicket.
Top order failed to perform
But the start was a disaster for India as the in-form Rohit Sharma (1), skipper Virat Kohli (1), opener K.L. Rahul (1) and Dinesh Karthik (6) were done in by some beautiful bowling by Matt Henry and Trent Boult.
While Henry sent Rohit back with a beauty, Boult was slightly lucky to get Kohli leg-before to a ball which looked to be high to the naked eye. Kohli did call for a review, but it was umpire’s call and a dejected skipper had to walk back withe scoreboard reading 5/2.
Rahul refused to learn from the mistakes of the senior batsmen as he kept the bat hanging outside as a Henry delivery took the edge and landed in the hands of wicketkeeper Tom Latham. Karthik too looked like a cat on a hot tin roof in his short stay in the middle, which came to an end when Jimmy Neesham picked a beauty at point to hand Henry his third wicket.
The top-order collapse saw India stranded at 24/4 when Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya joined hands to weave a 47-run partnership for the fifth wicket before a slog sweep off Mitchell Santner saw Pant (32 off 56 balls) walk back to the pavilion, much to the dismay of skipper Virat Kohli in the dressing room. The score read 71/5 when Dhoni walked in to join Pandya.
The scoring rate was slow, but the fact that Dhoni was guiding Pandya meant that India were in the game. The Kiwi bowlers kept bowling a tight line and that finally saw Pandya lose his cool and try a hoick over mid-wicket. But the ball went straight up and Kane Williamson took a brilliant catch.
But the wicket turned out to be a blessing in disguise for India, as Jadeja seemed to be batting on a different track altogether as he hit the Kiwi bowlers all around the park. Going into the last 10 overs, India needed 90 runs and it was always a question of picking that one wicket for the Kiwi bowlers.
Earlier, resuming on 211/5, New Zealand finished on 239/8 in their 50 overs after rain interrupted play 46.1 overs into their innings on Tuesday.
Brief Scores: New Zealand: 239/8 in 50 overs (Ross Taylor 74, Ken Williamson 67; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3/43); India: 221 all out in 49.3 overs (Ravindra Jadeja 77, M.S. Dhoni 49, Matt Henry 3/37)