A 240-run target didn’t seem challenging enough for India in the 2019 World Cup semifinal, until Matt Henry and Trent Boult rattled their in-form top order to give New Zealand a decisive opening. Steven Lynch tells the story of the gripping clash in the 2020 Wisden Almanack.
New Zealand v India
Semifinal 1, ICC Cricket World Cup 2019
Old Trafford, Manchester
July 9-10, 2019
“Forty-five minutes of bad cricket,” lamented Kohli. They came as India started their chase of 240 and slipped to 24 for four, their musketeers Sharma, Kohli himself and Rahul going all for one, unique in international cricket for a top three.
Henry started the rot, but Boult bent a ball into Kohli, who had also fallen for a single in the 2015 semifinal defeat by Australia. After Richard Illingworth raised his finger, the inevitable review showed a bail-clipping umpire’s call.
The collapse was enough to see table-toppers India dumped out, despite a stirring comeback orchestrated by Jadeja, batting for the first time in the tournament after inexplicably missing most of the group games (except when he was an electric substitute fielder). From 92 for six, he dominated a World Cup-record seventh-wicket stand of 116 with Dhoni, whose share was only 32.
Jadeja hoisted four sweet sixes before, with the rate still rising – Santner’s first eight overs cost only 15 – skying to mid-off. Jadeja’s 77 (“his best knock, according to me,” said Kohli) followed ten tight overs of his left-arm spin, a direct-hit run-out from the boundary and a nonchalant running catch. It wasn’t a bad return for a “bits and pieces player”, as he had been described by the former Indian batsman Sanjay Manjrekar. Jadeja’s celebrations on reaching his half-century had included a pointed gesture towards the media centre, where Manjrekar was commentating.
Forced to hit out, Dhoni cracked a six over point before, hustling for two, he was narrowly beaten by Guptill’s Exocet from the edge of the 30-yard circle. It was the final flash of fielding brilliance – Neesham’s earlier catch at backward point was another – to swing a match which spilled into two days when rain washed out the first afternoon; had a late restart been possible, India might have been contemplating a DLS target of 148 in 20 overs.
New Zealand, after three defeats, had made a sticky start. Guptill survived an lbw review from the first ball of the game (India later lost their batting review to its last), but soon became the first to fall for a single, and the scoring-rate seemed sluggish. Williamson’s 67 took 95 deliveries, while Taylor grafted to 74 from 90 – but it was pragmatic stuff under leaden skies on a grudging pitch offering occasional turn.
New Zealand managed 28 more from 23 balls when play resumed next morning – then embarked on those fateful 45 minutes that broke a billion Indian hearts.
First published in the 2020 Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack