One of the favorites to lift the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, India, bowed out in the first of the semi-finals in Old Trafford. After the World Cup semi-finals, Manchester was neither blue nor red, but black, at least till the English Premier League is set to return next month. New Zealand had beaten India in a thrilling contest. A game which had everything. “And then 45 minutes of bad cricket puts you out,” a distraught Virat Kohli said, on a match that had to be played over two days.
“First hour is very crucial,” is what they always say and the first hour of Day 2 went to New Zealand. No, it wasn’t a test match. It was the semi-finals of the ODI World Cup played over 2 days. The reserve day had to be used after the rain had the final say on the scheduled day.
The first 9 overs of the reserve day saw 5 wickets, 3 of them being Indians. The reserve day didn’t turn out to be very good for India. India lost early wickets and failed to recover from that. After five minutes into the second half of the match, the score at Old Trafford read 5-3. If you think it is a Manchester derby, you are mistaken. It was a Cricket World Cup semi-finals held in Manchester, with all the twists of a typical Manchester derby.
Immediately after India’s loss, Virat Kohli’s captaincy came into question. When India were down to 5 for 3 people expected MS Dhoni to walk in. Instead, it was Dinesh Karthik. After a few more overs, it was Rishabh Pant who gave away his wicket. The scoreboard read 24 for 4 and it was definitely time for Dhoni. But instead, there is a heated discussion between Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri, and Hardik Pandya walks out. Dhoni is still in the dressing room. Pehraps the discussion was about the man who promoted himself up the order to take home the 2011 World Cup who was still sitting in the dressing room.
Dhoni could have walked in at 5/2, 5/3 or at 24/4. But instead, he walked in at 71/5. But he, along with Ravindra Jadeja managed to take the match to the end. Had he been there when Pant was playing, would Pant have played a rash shot against the breeze. Couldn’t Dhoni have held one end up to make the scoreboard look better than what it did at 71/5?
It is always difficult to blame a single person in a team game. But it is always the captain who gets the stick. The tactical blunders also point against the captain. But it was a glorious match picked up from a book of pure fantasy. All of India’s top 3 don’t usually fail on the dame day, but they did. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, one of the fastest between the wickets, is rarely run out. But, this time he was. A team doesn’t often get 24 hours to think after their innings. But New Zealand did.
It was a Cricket World Cup semi-finals held in Manchester, with all the twists of a Manchester derby.
When Ravindra Jadeja came in to bat, the match was supposed to be over. But his counter attack almost pulled off a miracle. Again, Ravindra Jadeja isn’t known to win matches with his bat. But he almost did. When Jadeja didn’t middle the ball, the ball fell short of the fielder. Not once, not twice, but thrice, Indian fans almost said, “it is officially over.” But it wasn’t until the final over.
The biggest task India will have in the near future, if not now, is to replace M S Dhoni. There have been strong speculations of him retiring after the World Cup. Also, India have to find alternate batting options in the middle order as they have been too dependent on the top 3. Maybe, people like Shreyas Iyer, Shubman Gil, who have been scoring heavily in domestic cricket need to be looked at. The bowling department, on the other hand looks stronger than ever before and the only job is to keep them fit and nurture the future generation under them.