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Simply earlier than 3pm, deep into the second afternoon, this epic World Cup semi-final completed in a startling 18-run victory for New Zealand. Ultimately the margin was even tighter than that, no wider than the only inch between the tip of MS Dhoni’s bat and the crease when he was run out by a direct hit from Martin Guptill.

India wanted 24 off 9 balls at that time, and Dhoni, who had made fifty from 72, was their final, finest hope of getting them. The gang, ear-splittingly loud, fell awfully quiet as the reality sunk in that New Zealand had received by to the World Cup last.

Solely hours earlier, it had appeared a desperately unlikely consequence. CricViz’s win predictor device gave New Zealand a 2% probability of successful in the beginning of the second innings. After being 211 for 5 in a single day, that they had cobbled collectively 28 runs from the 23 balls left of their innings from the earlier night. They had been stymied by the good fielding of Ravi Jadeja, who helped dismiss each their unbeaten batsmen. He ran out Ross Taylor with a 35-yard throw from mid-wicket, and caught Tom Latham with a leap on the boundary. Sensible as these wickets had been, Jadeja was even higher once more with the bat, when he practically received India the match.

India wanted 240 and so they had had all night time to determine precisely the way to go about it on this tough, sticky, two-paced puzzle of a pitch. New Zealand had clearly been doing a little plotting too. Kane Williamson’s discipline for India’s opening batsmen was not a cordon however a noose, with eight males standing nicely contained in the 30-yard circle, two of them at slip, two extra at brief mid-wicket.

New Zealand might need mirrored, too, on a one-day recreation between these groups at Hamilton six months in the past, when the ball had been swinging, and Trent Boult had bowled India out for 92.

Rohit Sharma went first, caught behind off an ideal supply from Matt Henry, simply full sufficient to make him play even because it was transferring away. In got here Virat Kohli. You possibly can sense how tense he was. He edged one low to slide, threw his bat in a free drive at one other. Then Boult received him with an inswinger. Kohli thrust his bat at it and the ball curved again in and hit him excessive on the knee. As Richard Illingworth raised his finger, Kohli reeled again in shock, so aghast it appeared just like the umpire had dropped a priceless vase. Kohli reviewed it and the replay confirmed the ball would have simply caught the highest of the bails.

Three balls later KL Rahul was caught in two minds about whether or not to play a supply from Henry and he, too, sliced a catch by to Latham. So India had been 5 for 3. And for the primary time within the historical past of worldwide cricket, all the primary three batsmen in an innings had been dismissed for a single run every, which is a brand new variation on the outdated curse of Nelson. And it meant India had been confronted with a brand new drawback, one that they had not met within the event but.

Between the three of them, Sharma, Kohli, and Rahul had scored slightly below two-thirds of all their runs on this World Cup, and confronted simply over two thirds of all their deliveries.

India fans look dejected at Old Trafford.
India followers look dejected at Outdated Trafford. {Photograph}: Matt West/BPI/Rex/Shutterstock

Now their middle-order needed to cowl for them. Dinesh Karthik was already struggling. Henry received him. Or somewhat, Jimmy Neesham did, with an astonishing catch at backward level, diving down, one-handed, wrong-handed, to take the ball simply earlier than it hit the grass. India had been 23 for 4, and their two swaggering younger batsmen, Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya, set about making an attempt to rebuild the innings.

Ultimately, neither might resist the temptation, the devilish invitation, to attempt to do one thing spectacular. Pant went first, making an attempt to wallop Mitch Santner for six, then Pandya adopted in precisely the identical approach.

At that time Santner, plugging away from across the wicket, had bowled six overs, and brought two for seven. India wanted 148 from 19 overs however in some ways the sport was solely simply starting. Dhoni, the outdated grasp, was embedded at one finish and Jadeja was on the different. They had been the proper pair for the scenario.

Dhoni performed so fastidiously he might need been carrying a clipboard and a threat evaluation kind, however he appeared supremely assured, all of the whereas, that he knew precisely what he needed to do. He has accomplished these sums earlier than and infrequently received them incorrect. On the different finish, Jadeja, full of fireplace and fury after his argument with the Indian pundit Sanjay Manjrekar, who had disparaged him as a “bits and items participant”, gathered up Dhoni’s slack and began selecting off sixes down the bottom. Collectively they wrestled again the match with a 116-run partnership.

They wanted 42 runs from the final 4 overs when Jadeja, on 77, missed a kind of large hits, and was caught by Williamson.

So all of it got here all the way down to Dhoni. And he practically did it too. He had simply crashed his first six, an uppercut that whizzed over Santner’s fingertips at deep level, when he made his first actual mistake. It was solely a minor one, a momentary hesitation, over whether or not or to not attempt for the second run his associate had referred to as for, however in a match of such nice margins, it was deadly. Guptill’s throw beat him residence. He was out, and India had been too.

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