Kane Williamson’s side progress to Lord’s final after clinching an 18-run win
New Zealand are into the Cricket World Cup final after holding their nerve to beat India by 18 runs in a thrilling semi-final at Old Trafford, Agencies report.
Chasing 240 to make it to Lord’s, Matt Henry (3-37) and Trent Boult (2-42) reduced India to 5-3 after just 3.1 overs with Rohit Sharma (1), KL Rahul (1) and Virat Kohli (1) all back in the dressing room.
A staggering one-handed diving catch from Jimmy Neesham at backward point got rid of Dinesh Karthik to make it 24-4 and when Mitchell Santner (2-34) took two wickets to make it 92-6, the game looked as good as over.
However, Ravindra Jadeja’s brilliant knock of 77 from 59 balls, in a partnership of 116 with MS Dhoni, brought about an exhilarating conclusion.
But the Black Caps kept their composure, Boult had Jadeja caught in the 48th over and Martin Guptill’s superb direct hit ran out Dhoni (50) midway through the 49th as they bowled India out for 221 to secure their place in a second successive World Cup final.
After rain on Tuesday forced the game into a second day, New Zealand had 23 balls of their innings left when play resumed – a passage of play dominated by Jadeja as he ran out Ross Taylor (74) and then caught Tom Latham (10) next ball, ensuring the Black Caps could only add 28 to their total to finish on 239-8.
At that stage, India were strong favourites but within 19 balls of the chase beginning, the game had been turned on its head. Firstly, Rohit – he of five centuries at this World Cup – feathered through to Latham off Henry.
In the following over, it was over to Boult as he hooped the ball back in to Kohli and struck him on the pad, it looked good, the umpire agreed and up went the finger.
The India captain reviewed, indicating he thought the ball was going over the top. He was almost right. Ball-tracking showed it was just clipping the top of the bails, umpire’s call, and that was enough to send an enraged Kohli back to the pavilion for just one – taking his record in World Cup semi-finals to 11 runs in three innings.
Three balls later, two become three when Rahul played loosely outside off and failed to withdraw his bat in time as he nicked behind, 5-3. The India fans who had returned to Old Trafford expectant were silenced and the Kiwis were in dreamland.
It got better for Kane Williamson’s side in the final over of the powerplay. Henry pitched the ball up to Karthik, who sent a thick outside edge to backward point where Neesham flung himself to his left to take a stunning one-handed catch just a couple of inches off the ground.
Rishabh Pant (32) was then dropped by Neesham off Lockie Ferguson with the score on 35 but the 21-year-old left-hander was unable to take full advantage of his good fortune when he holed out off Santner after a 47-run stand with Hardik Pandya.
Pandya himself battled for another eight overs before he lost his patience and skied Santner into the legside where Williamson clung on to a tricky catch as he back-peddled from midwicket.
Over the course of the next 17 overs though, India clawed their way back. Dhoni was subdued, holding back on the big shots even as the match approached its climax, but Jadeja made up for that with some phenomenal ball-striking.
Jadeja’s half-century came up from just 39 balls, a scoring rate significantly faster than any other player in the match, and as the game entered the final six overs, there was belief among the Indian supporters their side could complete an unlikely comeback.
It was clear that Jadeja and Dhoni were of the same mindset and as Boult prepared to bowl the 48th over, the 37 from 18 balls required seemed eminently possible. The left-armer kept them to five from the first four balls but it was the slower ball next up that swung the momentum back in New Zealand’s favour. Jadeja miscued it, the ball went straight up and Williamson made no mistake as he came round to get underneath.
Dhoni ramped up the pressure about with a six carved over the offside from the first ball of the next over but he was gone two balls later, sprinting to get back for two. Guptill had one stump to aim at as he tore in from the deep, he found his mark and the replays confirmed Dhoni was centimetres short of his ground.
Ferguson bowled Bhuvneshwar Kumar later in the over and Neesham finished the job three balls into the last over as Yuzvendra Chahal, leaving India to reflect on a surprise exit and New Zealand looking forward to the chance to go one better than 2015 as they bid to lift the World Cup trophy at Lord’s on Sunday.