India lose despite Jadeja’s fireworks

By Kersi Meher-Homji

India’s dream of winning the 2019 Cricket World Cup ended when they lost the vital semi-final to New Zealand by 18 runs. No excuses, the Kiwis deserved to win because of their all-round excellence ”“ especially their bowling.

New Zealand won the toss and batted. After losing early wickets, skipper Kane Williamson (67 runs) and Ross Taylor (74) took them to 5 for 211 in 46.1 overs before rain stopped play.

The semi-final became a TDI (two day international) when the Kiwis continued their batting and made 8 for 239 in 50 overs, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah bowling with aggression and economy.

A win target of 240 appeared easy for the mighty Indian batsmen. But superb swing bowling by the NZ speedsters Matt Henry and Trent Boult made India a shocking three down for five runs, Rohit Sharma, Lokesh Rahul and Virat Kohli contributing one run each. No, this is not a misprint!

India continued with their zooming slide as they lost 4 for 24, 5 for 71 and 6 for 92. A humiliating defeat was on cards for Kohli’s men but cometh the hour and cometh the men ”“ MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja. As Dhoni kept one end up with sensible defence, Jadeja attacked with gusto belting fours and sixes.

Stunningly, they brought India close to victory, only 32 runs to win in 13 balls. Not impossible with Jay-jay-Jadeja going great guns, 77 runs off 59 balls (strike rate of 130.40) hitting 4 fours and 4 sixes.

Sadly for Indian crowd, he was caught and Dhoni (50 off 72 balls, hitting a four and a six) was brilliantly run out.

All out for 221, India lost by 18 runs. Now the worthy conquerors New Zealand will meet the winners of Australia and England in the Final on Sunday at Lord’s in London.

I am not being wise after the event but I have always maintained that Kohli errs in sending Rishbah Pant and Dinesh Karthik too high in batting order, at no. 4 and 5. Dhoni should have been sent at no. 4 when he could have stopped the collapse with his experience and Jadeja at no. 6 with his big bang bang attitude.

To send in potential match-winner Jadeja at no.8 was an absurd decision. Had India won, Jadeja would have been made Man of the Match. Apart from his blitzkrieg 77, he also took 1 for 34, two catches and ran out the Kiwi top-scorer Taylor with a brilliant direct throw.

But as it stands Matt Henry deserves his Man of the Match award as he sent both India’s openers ”“ the prolific Rohit Sharma and Lokesh Rahul ”“ cheaply back to the pavilion as he captured 3 for 37.

Also his bowling partner Boult was a real “bolt from the blue” for the Indian batsmen.

Kohli said sportingly at the presentation, “The first half we were spot on. We got what we needed in the field. We knew we had a good day yesterday, we felt like we had the moment, but the credit has to go to NZ bowlers. The swing and help they got from the surface – the skill from them was on display. Jaddu [Jadeja] had an outstanding couple of games. He went with so much clarity, MS had a good partnership with him. It was a game of margins and MS was run-out. 45 minutes of bad cricket puts you out of the tournament. Difficult to take it – but New Zealand deserve it. Our shot selection could have been better, but we played a good standard of cricket throughout. New Zealand were braver in crunch situations and they deserve it.”

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