If you asked Indian cricket fans who they wanted India to play in the semi-finals between England, Australia and New Zealand, the majority would have chosen the Kiwis.
New Zealand were ranked in fourth place and on paper looked like the easier challenge for Team India. However, things did not go as per plan for India as they fell short by 18 runs in the first semi-final. The Kiwis have made it to their second consecutive World Cup final and will play the winner of Australia vs. England.
Indian Bowlers Fire But Batsmen Fail
India sat on top of the World Cup points table having lost just one game to England in the playoffs. The reason India looked like the team to beat was because their bowling throughout the competition has been excellent and their batting has been solid – at least the top order.
The bowlers once again delivered in the semi-final as they restricted New Zealand to 239 on a wicket that came across as two paced. The game had to be pushed into the reserve day as the first day’s play was cut short due to bad weather.
India knew entering day 2 that they were going to have a small target to chase. The small target immediately became a challenge after the New Zealand quicks dismissed R Sharma (1), V Kohli (1) and KL Rahul (1).
The middle-order which has been India’s biggest weakness leading up to the World Cup and during the World Cup had a challenge to meet and conquer. However, D Karthik who received a promotion in the batting order failed yet again and R Pant threw his wicket away. A fighting partnership between R Jadeja and MS Dhoni saw India make a final push for victory but they came up short.
Indian Fans Disappointed
The shock defeat to New Zealand has disappointed over a billion fans around the world as they expected India to beat New Zealand and make it to the finals. The semi-final defeat has exposed holes in India’s game which has been very evident for the last two years.
In a statement, Kohli said “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.”