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Straight Bat: India, so near yet so far, once more

  • Published at 09:18 am July 11th, 2019
India's Virat Kohli reacts during their World Cup semi-final against New Zealand in Manchester Wednesday Reuters

This has been one of the most bowlers dominated Cup

Kohli has said that “45 minutes of bad cricket has cost us the final.” That’s all you need anyway when you are playing the semi finals in a World Cup.  But it was an incredible “45 minutes” that NZ bowlers produced.   In that period, they slew Rahul, Rohit and Kohli for five runs. Dinesh Karthik went for six and only the hardened supporters would have given India a chance. But old war horse Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja fought remarkably well to reach 203 for six, needing 37 from the last 18 balls.

Very, very gettable, particularly for a team like India but Jadeja went for 77 the next over and Dhoni, who had anchored the innings went in the one after.  At the 49th over, India needed 25 off 11 balls but desperation got Dhoni too, and NZ had pulled off the biggest or maybe the first real “upset” of this World Cup.

The blandest team reaches the final first  

This has been one of the most bowlers dominated Cup. Kohli praised his bowlers for keeping NZ restricted to 2 but when time came to perform, the batsmen failed. Matt Henry (Man Of the Match), Boult and Santner humbled India. Once the top three is gone, what else is left except Bollywood scriptwriters to stitch up a fantasy?

Dhoni and Jadeja did that which lasted till the 48th over but the end was dictated by NZ’s leather-hurling team and India ended its campaign. The victory margin does not tell the full story as India never looked like a contender till the 45th, but the first fatal 45 minutes was enough to ensure defeat.

One of the best batting attacks was scattered in the face of NZ’s pace. Now defeats at England and NZ’s hand suddenly makes a “bad day at the office comment” by Kohli not so credible. India has flaws and on this day, NZ exploited them to crack open the chasms. The much better team– at least on the day– won.

India’s harvest  

India have earned much. It is at the top of the league table with just one defeat and its players have looked like champions. But self-belief is one thing and over-confidence is another. When India took the field its chances of winning as per Cricinfo’s predictor was 98% and five overs later it was 15%. It did rise when the over progressed under Dhoni-Jadeja but only two players can never win a match and when the team fails, the result is rarely a victory.

Much gained by India which threatened to be the most serious pretender to the throne. Congratulations for that.  But NZ laid a trap and for the second cup in a row, India failed at the semis and NZ walked to the final.