On July 10, 2019, Team India suffered one of their most unforgettable losses during the ICC World Cup semi-final against New Zealand at Old Trafford. Due to heavy rain showers, on July 9, when New Zealand amassed 239, the match had been forced to the reserve day and it turned out to be a strange game for multiple reasons. A lot fo cricketing pundits termed New Zealand’s approach in the game a lot defensive, but the half-centuries from skipper Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor would prove crucial in the 2-day semifinal.
During the World Cup, the middle-order of India was quite unexposed barring a couple of games and it looked vulnerable. However, the odds were in India’s favor as they just had to chase down a meager total fo 240. Despite having an in-form top-order which comprised of KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, and Virat Kohli, the Kiwi pacers Matt Henry and Trent Boult managed to spoil India’s plans.
Henry got the wicket of Rohit in the 2nd over of the Indian innings while Virat Kohli fell to Boult in the 3rd. And in the very next over, Henry struck again as he dismissed Rahul as well. With the top-3 back in the hut, India was reeling at 5 for 3. Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik were playing in the middle but the latter was also dismissed in the 10th over by Henry again.
However, now the game was on the young shoulders of Pant and Hardik Pandya, whereas the fans were expecting MS Dhoni in the middle by now as India was struggling at 24/4 (sending Dhoni late was immensely criticized by the fans and pundits later) and the latter was held back inexplicably. A lot of people were wondering why the most experienced batsman was waiting in the dug-out.
Pant and Pandya also got out by the 31st over, then came Ravindra Jadeja, who along with Dhoni made a sensational 116-run partnership. The pair batted with calm heads and Jadeja played one of the best innings of his life.
Ravindra Jadeja played knock of 59-ball 77 with the help of 4 fours and as many sixes. As long as he was at the crease, India was looking in the game. With the cool MS Dhoni at the other end, New Zealand still had a fierce battle to fight. But, with increasing required run-rate in every over, Jadeja perished to Trent Boult in the 48th over. He was as gutted as the dressing room and Indian fans the world over but they still had Dhoni in the middle but not for long.
— Ravindrasinh jadeja (@imjadeja) July 10, 2020
In the penultimate over, with 24 runs still needed in the last 9 balls, Martin Guptill’s direct hit caught MS Short of his crease. Team India was visibly distraught as Dhoni walked off the field moments before New Zealand booked their 2nd successive World Cup final berth.
The players of Team India have often seen expressing that it took them week to digest the semi-final loss, but the fact remains that the punched way below their potential that day and the sluggish middle-order cost India the game. A year has past but he wounds are yet to heal but spare a thought for India’s fast bowlers who tormented opposition batsmen throughout the World Cup.
Rohit Sharma ended the campaign as teh highest run-scorer as he also made a record of scoring 5 centuries in a single edition. However, his effort wasn’t enough for India to lift the coveted cup for the third time.