For the Indian team and its fans, months of anticipation and expectation came to a grinding halt on Tuesday. As skipper Virat Kohli said after the semi-final loss to New Zealand, ‘45 minutes of bad cricket’ undid a lot of good work and took the team out of the World Cup.
The two-time champions were definitely the favourites heading into the game. They’d topped the league stage and were facing a side that was sitting on a hat-trick of defeats. But credit to New Zealand and especially their captain Kane Williamson. They held their nerves and played smartly when it mattered most.
India had their chances and will have plenty of regrets. The bowling attack, led by the irrepressible Jasprit Bumrah, put in a decent effort to restrict the Kiwis to 239/8 in 50 overs. Even the conditions to bat seemed better on the second day of the match but at 3/5 in 3.1 overs, with KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli back in the hut, the contest was all but over.
The two-time champions can be proud of the fight put up by Ravindra Jadeja and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, though. The duo made a match out of what seemed like a hopeless situation. Having said that, India will be disappointed with the performance they dished out in the all-important game.
Here’s our rating of the Indian players in the semi-final against New Zealand:
Batting: 1 run off 7 balls
He’d come into the game on the back of a century in the last league match against Sri Lanka. With Sharma dismissed in the second over, Rahul was expected to buckle-up and fight it out. The right-hander got a good delivery but one would’ve expected him to be able to leave it. He poked at it a bit and failed to step up on that one instance when his opening partner got out early. For all the runs that he got in the tournament, at the end of it all, Rahul still doesn’t inspire much confidence.
Batting: 1 run off 4 balls
The right-hander had a dream World Cup on the personal front. A record five centuries show why he’s considered as a modern-day ODI great. Sharma, though, won’t be looking back at this tournament too fondly. He’d missed out in 2011 and it seemed he would drive the team to another title. He got a peach of a delivery in the semi-final and he had to offer his bat to it, but the 32-year-old will be gutted at failing to contribute when his team needed him the most.
Batting: 1 run off 6 balls
His was, arguably, the worst dismissal. Kohli is widely considered the best one-day batsman of his generation but he failed yet again in a knockout game. And it was the manner of his dismissal that was most disappointing. Trent Boult had a mid-wicket in place with square leg empty. The left-arm pacer was swinging the ball back in wonderfully and the Indian skipper made the big mistake of playing across the line in search of the gap. The team had just lost its most in-form batsman, the target wasn’t too big and Kohli simply had to play with a straight bat. One extra point is given to him for doing a decent job as captain.
Batting: 32 runs off 56 balls
Among the top-order batsmen, Pant was most impressive. He was timing the ball wonderfully from the get-go and look unperturbed by the happenings at the other end. But as has been the case so often in his young career, he flattered to deceive. It was simply unacceptable of him to throw away his wicket after getting settled in difficult conditions. The left-hander has got dismissed playing the slog-sweep in his last three ODI innings now. Mitchell Santner bowled a string of dot balls and the 21-year-old fell for the bait. He has shown spark but there’s still a long way to go.
Batting: 6 runs off 25 balls
It was the perfect opportunity for Karthik to prove his worth. He’s had a start-stop career but was included in the side for the immense experience he possesses. The right-hander looked confident during his brief stay at the crease – leaving the good deliveries and playing with a straight bat. But one loose shot and a stunning catch by James Neesham saw another opportunity getting wasted. One wonders if the 34-year-old will remain in the scheme of things going forward.
Batting: 32 runs off 62 balls
Just like Pant, Pandya got set before throwing his wicket away. The 25-year-old looked in control during his time at the crease and India would’ve been in a strong position if he had stuck around for six-to-eight overs. His decision to go for a boundary was understandable but his shot selection was poor. The right-hander attempted a slog-sweep against the left-arm spin of Santner and ended up skying it. The all-rounder did a decent job with the ball. He was struggling with his hamstring but showed grit to finish his spell.
Batting: 50 runs off 72 balls
Opinion seems divided over Dhoni’s performance. At the end of the day, though, he got runs when most others didn’t. Why a batsman with 350 ODIs and an average of 51 came out to bat at No 7 is impossible to explain. Dhoni had a calming influence on Jadeja and it looked like the veteran was going to pull off another epic chase. He was waiting for New Zealand’s pacers to finish off so that he could attack in that one extra over which was left in the end, but he was tragically run-out just before getting there. The only complaint about Dhoni’s performance could be that he batted a little slowly. If you face 72 deliveries and your team loses by 18 runs, one can’t be grudged for expecting you to score more than 50. India would’ve been a lot closer to victory had Dhoni shown a little more intent during his partnership with Jadeja.
Batting: 77 runs off 59 balls
Three catches and a stunning direct-hit run-out must also be mentioned in his performance. Jadeja was easily the standout player for India. It was his knock that brought alive the contest. The left-hander came out with a great mindset and took the attack to the Kiwis. He has scored three triple-centuries in First Class cricket and showed once again that he’s anything but a tailender. His innings would’ve been a classic had he been able to take his team over the line. Nonetheless, Jadeja’s performance showed he’s the true 3D player in India.
Batting: 0 off 1 ball
Kumar did a good job in helping India restrict New Zealand when play resumed on Wednesday. The right-arm pacer was economical in his opening spell (0/13 from 5 overs) and got the important wickets of Colin de Grandhomme and Tom Latham later on. There was a case for Mohammed Shami to be included in the XI, but Kumar did a reasonable job after getting the opportunity.
Batting: 5 runs off 5 balls
In a match where the scoring rate of both teams was well under five, Chahal finished his 10 overs with an economy rate of over six. The same match also saw both other spinners (Jadeja and Santner) returning with economy rates of 3.40. The leg-spinner got the important wicket of Williamson but he was disappointing overall. India could well have won the match had he bowled slightly better. On a sluggish pitch, the Kiwi batsmen worked Chahal around with ease.
Batting: 0 off 0
He got the dangerous Martin Guptill in his second over and had figures of 1/10 from four overs at the end of his first spell. Bumrah’s performance can’t be gauged merely by his numbers, the unorthodox right-arm pacer comes in to bowl in the toughest situations and hardly ever misses a beat. He was hit for just one boundary in the 60 balls that he bowled and was once again the go-to man for his captain.