India’s dream to lift the World Cup trophy for the 3rd time came to an end on Wednesday as New Zealand outplayed the Men in Blue to emerge victorious at Old Trafford, Manchester.
In a chase of 240 runs, India was put into a tricky situation after their top 3 and in-form batsmen–Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Virat Kohli–were sent back for 1, 1, and 1 in the first 4 overs.
Thereafter, Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya steadied a sinking Indian side for a while but it was MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja who kept the hopes alive in the death overs of the nail-biting semi-final.
With Dhoni and Jadeja at the crease, a win seemed likely for India as the two kept on fighting gradually. Ravindra Jadeja walked out to bat when India had lost Hardik Pandya for 32 in the 31st over of their 240-run chase and joined MS Dhoni when India was reeling at 92 for 6.
Thereafter, Dhoni and Jadeja went on to stitch a 106-run stand for the 7th wicket to give India a hope that they could still make it to the Lord’s for the July 14 World Cup 2019 final.
MS Dhoni was slow in collected runs but the wicket-keeper-batsmen kept rooted at the crease to give Jadeja crucial support.
In a pressure situation, when runs were not coming easy for India, Jadeja smashed the disciplined New Zealand bowlers– Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson– for boundaries and sixes.
After bringing India back into the game, Jadeja perished for 77 from 59 balls, hitting 4 sixes and as many boundaries.
However, in the 49th over of the second innings, the Indian crowd went into a mournful silence when MS Dhoni was run-out for 50. It was Martin Guptill who dashed India’s hopes with his terrific direct hit to dismiss MS Dhoni, the man on whom India’s belief rested. Guptill had a horrific season with the bat but he turned out to be a game-changer for New Zealand with his awareness on the field.
As MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja departed, India was soon all-out for 221 in 49.3 overs.
India was playing for a spot in their 4th World Cup final but at the end of the day, New Zealand stormed to their second successive title clash.
For India, it was a repeat of the 2015 World Cup campaign. After dominant performances in the group stage and the quarter-final 4 years ago, India went down to Australia. In 2019, India finished on top of the group stage only to lose to New Zealand in the semi-final.