In what could be considered as the biggest upset of the tournament, a direct hit from Martin Guptill resulted in MS Dhoni’s fall, a throw that subsequently ended India’s hopes of qualifying for the final. The Kiwi bowlers successfully defended a modest total of 239, to sculpt a spot in the final.
Does Kohli gets bogged down in big games?
When Virat Kohli took the long walk back in disbelief, the moment rekindled memories of the 2003 World Cup final, when Sachin Tendulkar was dismissed in the very first over. Kohli has a similar impact and holds the key to India’s success, especially in run-chases. His early kill is no less than a boon to any opposition and New Zealand had to get him before he took the game away from them.
A smiling Trent Boult steams in, got the ball to nip back a little and Kohli is trapped leg before while trying to glance it through mid-wicket. Boult knows it and so does the umpire but Kohli looks unconvinced and challenges the decision. The replays suggested the ball just clipping the bails and India’s hopes take a massive beating with this dismissal.
After this fall, Kohli only averages 3.66 in three World Cup semi-finals. To add to his woes, he is yet to score a fifty in six World Cup knock-out games as his scores read 24, 9, 35, 3, 1, 1. In six knock-out games, Kohli has garnered only 73 runs at a paltry average of 12.16 and a strike rate of 56.15. Numbers do not tell you the exact story but context does. So far, Kohli has struggled to weave his magic in do-or-die games and his reputation is certainly taking a hit.
After being touted as favourites, India failed to qualify for the finals and one of the main reasons has to be their batting failure on the big day. After Rohit’s early kill and Shikhar Dhawan being unavailable, the onus of carrying the team over the line had to be Kohli’s shoulders and his failure cost India massively. Whether Kohli gets bogged down in a big game or not is open for debate, but he certainly has a lot to prove in knock-out games from here on.
Ravindra Jadeja’s day out
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no wait, it’s Ravindra Jadeja flying high at Old Trafford! A livewire on the field, a wily bowler who relies on accuracy and more than handy with the bat, Jadeja’s stocks have touched the sky after his splendid outing at Old Trafford.
After being the talk of the town in recent times because of the whole ‘bits and pieces’ cricketer comment, Jadeja only got riled up and sprung one of his best performances in ODI cricket in a do-or-die game. His inclusion in the playing XI raised a lot of eyebrows as it happened at the expense of Kuldeep Yadav, but the southpaw repaid the faith with interest.
After a fighting spell, where he picked a wicket for 34 runs from his 10 overs, Jadeja was unstoppable on the field. Generally, the scorecard may not reflect a fielder’s brilliance but Jadeja easily converted two half chances into opportunities with his athleticism and dented New Zealand’s run in the death overs. But this was not all, a series of storm was about to strike Old Trafford.
After Hardik Pandya’s fall at 92, India had very little hopes of crossing the 200-run mark but Jadeja had other ideas. Saying that Jadeja took guard under immense pressure would be an understatement and the southpaw stuck to his guns and soaked in all the pressure. He broke the shackles with some counter-attacking, and alongside Dhoni, almost stitched a match-winning partnership.
His intentions were clear when he shimmied down the track to Jimmy Neesham and smashed a monstrous six over long-on. He was here for a fight and wasn’t getting bogged down by the big match pressure. His 59-ball 77 steered India to the brink of a win as perished at a crucial juncture. He may have not won the game for India, but this outing will be remembered for a very long time and the all-rounder did well to bring India close of an improbable victory.
Kiwis are the real threat once the ball starts swinging
Is there a better bowling attack once the conditions get bowler-friendly? Well, that’s debatable but New Zealand have proved their mettle in the high-voltage semi-final. Prior to the start of the game, India had just lost four wickets inside the powerplay (first 10 overs) in the league stages, but come the big game, they lost as many in just a single game and that too within an hour.
Earlier this year, India found themselves in a similar situation against the same opponent at Wellington. In conditions where the ball was moving, India crumbled at 22 for 4 and their weaknesses against moving deliveries were brutally exposed.
New Zealand have a fine bowling attack that doesn’t really depend on conditions but the same attack sports a formidable look once the ball starts moving. Once New Zealand had 239 runs on the board, the target looked like a cakewalk for the star-studded Indian side. But one couldn’t forget that New Zealand did beat India convincingly in the warm-up games. With conditions being overcast, Kiwi bowlers wreaked havoc and tightened the noose around India within a span of 19 deliveries.
There was some movement to offer, and Matt Henry alongside Trent Boult sent India’s top-order packing for scores of 1,1 and 1. Yes, you read that right, those are the scores Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul managed to bag in such a high pressure situation. It was no less than a dreamy start as India’s vulnerable middle-order was exposed way too early and their bowlers did well to steer New Zealand to victory.
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