Manchester: India crashed out of the World Cup after suffering a heart-breaking 18-run loss to New Zealand in the first semifinal here Wednesday. India’s famed top-order imploded on a day when it mattered most as a gritty New Zealand survived a swift counter attack from Ravindra Jadeja to win an exciting World Cup semi-final.
Jadeja (77 off 59 balls) used every ounce of his “bits and pieces” skill but the “men in blue” could only get as far as 221 in 49.3 overs in pursuit of 240. New Zealand made it to their second successive final, with credit going to their pacers” — Matt Henry (3/37) and Trent Boult’s (2/42) — deadly opening spell and Lockie Ferguson’s steely nerve in the penultimate over.
The script was eerily similar to the 2015 World Cup semi-final and just like that evening in Sydney, skipper Virat Kohli was once again out cheaply and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (50) was stuck in the middle overs.
Speaking after the loss, Indian skipper Virat Kohli said, “I think we are sad but we are not devastated because of the kind of cricket that we played in this tournament. We know where we stood as a team and we were not good enough in this game. That is the nature of this tournament. A bad day in the knockout stage you are out of the tournament,” he lamented.
“May be, we could have a re-look at the format where a team that has been consistent doesn’t get knocked out for having one bad day,” the skipper said. The skipper is however sure that there would be some introspection of the performance but not immediately. ‘I don’t think that I would like to break things down immediately. But in time we’ll have to sit down and analyse where we went wrong and the things we could have done right in this game particularly.
Kohli was particularly happy for Ravindra Jadeja, who put up a lion-hearted show with the bat. “I don’t think we had to say anything to Jadeja after what happened over the last one week. He was quite ready to just get on to the park, to be honest (smiles),” Kohli said with obvious reference to Sanjay Manjrejar’s ‘bits and pieces’ cricketer remark.
‘I’m really happy for him because he’s been a very understated but a top quality cricketer for India on the field, with the ball, with the bat, priceless, so he’s had a great game.’He is certainly sad that one bad day in the knock-outs ended a good campaign and wouldn’t mind if ICC revisits the format.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was fully aware of the damage Mahendra Singh Dhoni could have inflicted to his team and Martin Guptill’s direct throw from the deep to get the former India captain run-out was the turning point of their victory.
Williamson said when Dhoni, who scored 50 off 72 balls, was there, he knew the match could have gone either way in those final overs. ‘We all know the game is a fine line in a number of ways. But that run-out was significant. We have seen Dhoni finish games from those similar positions on a number of occasions,’ Williamson said after the match.
“It was a tough surface so nothing promised but naturally to dismiss Dhoni in whatever fashion is extremely important, but for a direct hit run-out very similar to Jadeja’s I think was a big moment in the game,” said the Kiwi captain.
He was all praise for Ravindra Jadeja, who made batting on a difficult pitch look easy. “Jadeja came in and hitting the ball better than anybody in both teams was very, very valuable. In fact, he got some momentum going India’s way,” the Kiwi captain said.
Mitchell Santner’s slow left-arm spin was one of New Zealand’s biggest weapons and Williamson was lavish in his praise. “It was an outstanding spell from Santner on a surface that, you know, no doubt was offering to the slower bowlers — and we saw that in our innings as well the amount of spin that the Indian spinners got and he (Santner) is a world-class bowler, so we expected he would operate well,” Williamson said.