No one gave New Zealand a chance to do well in this semi-final fixture, but they defied all the odds on Wednesday. Kane Williamson and his side registered a sensational win on a day when it mattered the most and despite the late effort from Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni, it was the Kiwis who emerged victorious.
New Zealand got off to a slow start yesterday, with Martin Guptill continuing his poor run. He edged it straight to the second slip off Bumrah where Kohli’s safe hands did the rest. Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls defended their way out of the initial threat, with them not hauling a lot of runs in the powerplay. The duo kept batting steadily even after the spinners came in and didn’t take a lot of risks.
But Ravindra Jadeja found a way through Nicholls’ defence and disturbing the timber behind the batsman. New Zealand’s two best bets Williamson and Ross Taylor were in the middle to steer their team out of danger. The scoring rate had not changed significantly with them in the middle and although the Indians maintained the pressure, the Kiwis saved their wickets and did a good job to take the game deep.
Kane Williamson got his half-century after battling very hard, but he was soon sent back by Yuzvendra Chahal. Hardik Pandya chipped in with Jimmy Neesham’s wicket soon and the task was getting difficult in the final ten overs for Taylor with the Indian bowlers bowling tremendously. Colin de Grandhomme and Taylor registered 18 runs off Chahal’s 44th over, which got the Kiwis some momentum.
After Bhuvneshwar Kumar dismissed Grandhomme, rain interrupted and pushed the proceedings to Wednesday. Indian bowlers did a terrific job in the remaining 23 balls on Wednesday morning to restrict New Zealand to 239 for the loss of 8 wickets. Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s selection was not received well by many fans, but the fast bowler chipped in with brilliant figures of 3/46 for the Men in Blue.
Henry and Boult walk past the Indian top order
Matt Henry has been under the pump for not being on the same level as Boult or Lockie Ferguson, but he delivered a big performance with the new ball on Wednesday. He first dismissed Rohit Sharma for just one run with a beautiful delivery which jagged away just enough to find Rohit’s edge. Kohli was trapped in front of the stumps next over and followed by that was KL Rahul desperately hanging his bat outside off, only to see the edge fly to the keeper.
Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik came in at number 4 and 5 ahead of MS Dhoni but did a terrific job initially to nullify the new ball threat. Pant showed some positive attitude and hit a couple of good boundaries. But Karthik was dismissed in the final over of the powerplay courtesy a mind-boggling catch at point by Neesham. Hardik Pandya walked in at number 5 to accompany Pant, another one of the surprising moves from Kohli.
Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya played very uncharacteristically, but the youth exuberance and positivity was showing glimpses on occasions. They added a good partnership for the 5th wicket, but Pant’s failed attempt to clear the deep mid-wicket fielder killed many Indian hopes. Pandya too was dismissed by the same bowler (Santner), attempting something similar, a slog sweep over mid-wicket, and another failure.
Jadeja and Dhoni’s fightback of a lifetime goes in vain
Ravindra Jadeja’s heroics began with a huge six over long-on off Neesham and under the guidance of MS Dhoni, the duo beautifully calculated their way to a strong position. They didn’t do anything extravagant, Jadeja collected a boundary every over regularly to keep India in the game. He struck the big blows time and again, but their partnership was mostly about the smartness in mixing caution and aggression.
Jadeja completed his century and followed the famous sword celebration, a gesture which never made the Indian fans happier. They continued the same old Dhoni strategy of taking the game deep, which added a bit too much of pressure on Jadeja who perished at a very important juncture.
Dhoni was then dismissed via an incredible direct hit run-out from Martin Guptill, which pretty much sealed the deal for the Kiwis. Jimmy Neesham picked up the wicket which mattered the most in the end, which sent the whole of Blackcaps into celebrations as the pyrotechnics went wild in the background.
New Zealand: 239/8 in 50 overs (Ross Taylor 74, Kane Williamson 67; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3/46)
India: (Ravindra Jadeja 77, MS Dhoni 50; Matt Henry 3/37, Mitch Santner 2/34)
Result: New Zealand won by 18 runs
Man of the match: Matt Henry
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