India’s worst nightmare played on the Old Trafford as Trent Boult and Matt Henry exposed all the frailties of the batting line-up. Set 240, India’s chase got off to a terrible beginning and finished with just five on the board in all practicality when they lost their first three batsmen.
There was resistance, of course, and then a brave fight by Ravindra Jadeja (77 off 59) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (50) was witnessed, but India eventually fell short by 18 to give New Zealand its second consecutive final appearance in the World Cup. It was a collaboration of Dhoni’s calm attitude and Jadeja’s exasperation.
New Zealand needed some calm and it did not help as the partisan crowd got behind the Indian duo. India was in difficulty when the mistimed slog of Hardik Pandya off Mitchell Santner carried only as far as midwicket. India had scored 92 runs on the loss of six wickets and required 148 in the last twenty overs.
Boult, much to the delight of New Zealand, once again stood up for his side as Williamson caught Jadeja’s skier and left India with 31 in the last two overs. Four balls later, the direct hit of Martin Guptill found Dhoni short-a moment that nearly sealed the finals place of New Zealand.
Earlier in the day, the batsmen would have breathed a sigh of relief when the sun welcomed both teams on the reserve day in Manchester. Instead, it swung and seamed to nip any hopes that the Indian fans had. Rohit, coming into the game on the back of three consecutive centuries, edged his fourth delivery to the ‘keeper. Henry held the fourth stump line and got the ball to go away to take the edge.
New Zealand had removed the cream of India’s batting order with a tentative KL Rahul poking at a back-of-length delivery from Henry to give Latham his second catch of the match. During his stay, Rishabh Pant went in at his usual No. 4 and looked at ease, but saw Karthik work his way up to six before getting out to Henry.
New Zealand had evaluated the track perfect for all the chatter of lack of intent. When the second lowest powerplay score was scored by New Zealand-ending the first ten at 27 for one- what Williamson and Henry Nicholls had done was kill the swing. It wasn’t much simpler, but it definitely became more manageable. From the 14th to 27.3, no boundaries were scored, but Williamson and Taylor slowly and steadily pushed the score forward.
India’s disappointment lies with the wrist spinners, who had a bad tournament. From his ten, Yuzvendra Chahal leaked 63 on a track which had assistance for him. Once Williamson dropped to the legspinner, he was attacked by Taylor in the 44th over to bring 18 out of it and offer some much-needed momentum to the match.