In a match of swinging fortunes, India came close but couldn’t go over the finishing line and lost a nail-biting clash to New Zealand by 18 runs in the first World Cup semifinal.
India got off to the worst possible start in their chase of 240 against New Zealand when the top order was back in the hut with hardly anything on the board. The top three batsmen were dismissed for just one run each and the Indian innings was left in tatters at 5 for 3.
The Kiwis exploited the slightly overcast conditions to their advantage with their opening bowlers Matt Henry and Trent Boult doing the damage.
The in-form Rohit Sharma who had scored 5 hundreds so far in the tournament was dismissed in the second over with one that tailed away and took the edge. Keeper Latham completed the formality with a regulation catch.
Skipper Virat Kohli came to the crease and much was expected of him in a high-pressure run chase. But a big score was not to be as he was given out lbw off Boult and though he referred the decision, the umpire’s call stayed as the ball was kissing the top of the stumps.
Lokesh Rahul was the third batsman to go after a tentative poke outside the off stump saw him lose his wicket, caught by the keeper.
Karthik was next to go after a brilliant catch by Neesham off Henry to leave India reeling at 24 for 4.
After a 47-run partnership for the 5th wicket, Rishabh Pant couldn’t keep his cool and hoicked Santner to be caught at the boundary. That left India at 71 for 5 in the 23rd over.
The stuttering run-chase was dealt another blow when Pandya too couldn’t resist the temptation off Santner and holed out with the score at 92.
From 92 for 6, there was a remarkable turnaround led by Ravindra Jadeja who brought India back into the match with some lusty hits to the fence.
In the company of Dhoni, he forged a 100-plus run partnership to take India close to the target. At the end of 47 overs, India were 203 for 6 with 37 needed off the last three overs.
However, Jadeja was dismissed for a whirlwind 77 off 59 balls laced with 4 fours and 4 sixes with the score on 208.
At the end of 48 overs, India were on 209 for 7 with 31 needed. Dhoni rose to the occasion hitting the first ball of the 49th over for a six over point. However, he was left with a little too much to do in the end and was run out for a valiant 50.
India were eventually bowled out for 221 with Henry picking up 3 wickets for the Kiwis.