New Zealand confirmed their place in the ICC Cricket World Cup final for the second edition in a row after their new ball bowlers tore through the Indian top order to set up an 18-run win.
After resuming on Wednesday, on 211/6 with 23 balls remaining in their innings, New Zealand were faced with the difficult challenge of needing to attack from ball one against a well rested India bowling line-up.
Having hit 49 runs off the last 5.1 overs of Tuesday’s play, it could be argued that the rain delay came at the worst possible time for them.
Despite losing Ross Taylor for 74 (adding seven to his overnight score), New Zealand managed to add 28 runs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, recalled at the expense of the in-form Mohammed Shami, finished with impressive figures of 3/43 from his 10 overs. India needed 240 to qualify for the World Cup final.
The run chase, however, got off to the worst possible start. In the space of 19 dramatic deliveries, India found themselves on 5/3. Matt Henry had both opening batsmen, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, caught behind by Tom Latham for 1, while Trent Boult took the crucial wicket of Virat Kohli, also for 1.
All of a sudden, India were on the back foot. Dinesh Karthik followed soon after, via a stunning one-handed catch from Jimmy Neesham, leaving India four wickets down within the first 10 overs. Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya then started the rebuilding job, both batting with uncharacteristic caution necessitated by the tense game situation.
Both fell to the left-arm spin of Mitchell Santner before the score passed the 100-mark. On a pitch that was receptive to spin bowling, Santner bowled with impressive accuracy, restricting the Indian batsmen for any room. He finished with figures of 10-2-34-2 – a final analysis that included 40 dot balls.
It was then left to MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja, as India’s last two recognised batsmen, to carry India through to the final. A pumped up Jadeja, who’d had a great morning on the field earlier, made a fight of it, smashing four sixes in his 59-ball 77.
The duo’s 116-run partnership gave India hope. With 31 needed off the last two overs, Dhoni got to his fifty with a six and looked primed to take his team over the line. However a rocket throw by Martin Guptill caught him just short running for the second.
That proved the decisive blow for India’s changes, as they conceded an 18-run defeat.