He came, he put on a show, but Ravindra Jadeja failed to conquer as India crashed out of the World Cup after losing to New Zealand by 18 runs in the semifinal at the Old Trafford on Wednesday.
Questions about India's over dependence on the top-order was time and again shot down by the team management over the past month, but it did finally haunt them on the big stage -- the semifinal of the World Cup.
On a wicket tailor-made for the bowlers, Jadeja did play a blinder (77 off 59 balls, 4x4. 6x4). But it was too late in the day as the top-order collapse came to haunt India at the end. Credit also goes to the Kiwis for making it to their second consecutive final after finishing runners-up in 2015.
Needing 52 off the last five overs, Jadeja looked to be guiding India home under the tutelage of former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, but Trent Boult had the last laugh as he dismissed Jadeja in the 48th over to bring New Zealand right back into the game. Jadeja's 77-run knock was the highest in the history of World Cup for a batsman batting at number eight in the second innings, but it was just not enough to take India home.
The untimely run out of Dhoni (50 off 72 balls, 4x1, 6x1) in the 49th over was the final nail in the coffin. It was ironic that the man who is known as one of the best judges of run was run out while going for a double. Martin Guptill's direct hit was too good even for Dhoni.
Chasing 239, India were 92/6 and looking down the barrel before Jadeja joined Dhoni and raised hopes of a counter. In the end, their partnership of 116 runs was the highest in the history of World Cup for the seventh wicket.
But the start was a disaster for India as the in-form Rohit Sharma (1), skipper Virat Kohli (1), opener K.L. Rahul (1) and Dinesh Karthik (6) were done in by some beautiful bowling by Matt Henry and Trent Boult.
His team might have fallen to defeat, but how good was Ravindra Jadeja today?— ICC (@ICC) July 10, 2019
His 77 off 59 balls was the second highest score by a No. 8 in World Cup history, and almost helped India pull off an incredible comeback win 💪#CWC19 | #TeamIndia | #INDvNZ pic.twitter.com/jf15TJNONF
While Henry sent Rohit back with a beauty, Boult was slightly lucky to get Kohli leg-before to a ball which looked to be high to the naked eye. Kohli did call for a review, but it was umpire's call and a dejected skipper had to walk back withe scoreboard reading 5/2.
Rahul refused to learn from the mistakes of the senior batsmen as he kept the bat hanging outside as a Henry delivery took the edge and landed in the hands of wicketkeeper Tom Latham. Karthik too looked like a cat on a hot tin roof in his short stay in the middle, which came to an end when Jimmy Neesham picked a beauty at point to hand Henry his third wicket.
The top-order collapse saw India stranded at 24/4 when Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya joined hands to weave a 47-run partnership for the fifth wicket before a slog sweep off Mitchell Santner saw Pant (32 off 56 balls) walk back to the pavilion, much to the dismay of skipper Virat Kohli in the dressing room. The score read 71/5 when Dhoni walked in to join Pandya.
The scoring rate was slow, but the fact that Dhoni was guiding Pandya meant that India were in the game. The Kiwi bowlers kept bowling a tight line and that finally saw Pandya lose his cool and try a hoick over mid-wicket. But the ball went straight up and Kane Williamson took a brilliant catch.
But the wicket turned out to be a blessing in disguise for India as Jadeja seemed to be batting on a different track altogether as he hit the Kiwi bowlers all around the park. Going into the last 10 overs, India needed 90 runs and it was always a question of picking that one wicket for the Kiwi bowlers.
Earlier, resuming on 211/5, New Zealand finished on 239/8 in their 50 overs after rain interrupted play 46.1 overs into their innings on Tuesday. Jasprit Bumrah had spoken about wickets slowing down towards the business end of the tournament and it was evident during the first semifinal as the Indian bowlers made full use of the conditions after Williamson won the toss and opted to bat.
Ross Taylor was the only bright spot for New Zealand as he hit a 90-ball 74 before being run out, courtesy a direct hit from Jadeja in the 48th over. Jadeja then followed it up with a brilliant catch off the first ball of the next over from Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3/43) as Tom Latham had to walk back for 10. On Tuesday, Williamson also played his part by hitting a 95-ball 67 as former cricketers criticised the slowness of the pitch for the crucial encounter.
Slower bouncers, cutters and the knuckle balls ruled the roost as the Indian bowlers showed why they are considered one of the best in world cricket at present. Even as the team management surprised many by deciding to drop the in-form Mohammad Shami, the trio of Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar and all-rounder Hardik Pandya showed that they were up for the challenge.
Such was the struggle of the Kiwi openers that the first run in the innings came in the 3rd over, the 17th ball to be more precise. And as they say, morning did show the day as it was a struggle for the New Zealand batsmen right through. In fact, even the in-form Williamson looked a pale shadow of his ususal self as he looked to dig in and score some runs for his bowlers to defend.
While Nicholls did all the hardwork, he was dismissed in the 19th over by a beauty from Jadeja which turned just enough to beat the edge of the bat. The 51-ball 28 was just not the knock he would have wanted to play after digging in deep.
But it wasn't any easier for Ross Taylor either as he looked to have hit a rut. In fact, at one stage he wasn't even able to pick the singles. But the two did try their best to spend time in the middle to stretch the partnership and keep wickets in the bag.
Taylor was given a half-life on 22 as Dhoni failed to latch onto one that dropped almost in front of his gloves off Bumrah. A front leap instead of a sideways dive could have seen him pick that up. Williamson was finally dismissed against the run of play by Chahal as one seemed to grip just enough to have the skipper play it early. The literal lob was gobbled up by Jadeja behind point as Williamson walked back for a 95-ball 67 in the 36th over.
The move to have Jimmy Neesham come in as a pinch-hitter didn't work any wonders as he managed just 12 off 18 balls. Taylor continued his struggle and was also saved by DRS after the umpire gave him out on 56. While rain then cut short the innings on Tuesday, the Kiwis managed to score 28 runs off the remaining 23 balls for the loss of three wickets on Wednesday. In total, 84 runs came off the last 10 overs.
Brief Scores: New Zealand: 239/8 in 50 overs (Ross Taylor 74, Kane Williamson 67; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3/43); India: 221 all out in 49.3 overs (Ravindra Jadeja 77, M.S. Dhoni 50, Matt Henry 3/37)
648 runs, 5 centuries. This man gave his best to take India to the semis making them the Table Toppers. Don't be sad Rohit Sharma. You're a champion 👏👍🙏 #INDvNZ #INDvsNZ #CWC19 #HITMAN pic.twitter.com/zO0iH9z6IA— Sir Jadeja fan (@SirJadeja) July 10, 2019
India never had Plan B for top-order failure
Questions about Indias over dependence on the top order was time and again shot down by the team management over the past month, but in the end, it was the opening 40 minutes of the Indian innings in the semifinal against New Zealand at the Old Trafford that showed that this team didnt have a Plan B in place.
India lost to New Zealand by 18 runs after restricting them to 239/8 in the rain-hit semifinal played over two days. The Men in Blue were done in by a top order collapse which saw them lose four batsmen, including Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, inside 10 overs with just 24 runs on board. Though Ravindra Jadeja (77) and M.S. Dhoni (50) shared a 116-run seventh wicket stand to raise hopes of an unlikely victory, it wasn't enough in the end.
India skipper Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri had time and again said that it was a case of the top order flourishing and that it was only in the game against Afghanistan that the middle-order flopped. But the reality was that even in the group stage game against England, the middle-order was exposed. That time too, the duo of Kohli and Shastri supported the batsmen and said that it was a one-off situation and not something to be too perturbed about.
India started their campaign with a floating number four in K.L. Rahul and that is exactly where the writing was on the wall. The selection committee led by M.S.K. Prasad had also said that Vijay Shankar (58 runs from three games before he was ruled out with an injury) was the number four as he was three dimensional. The team management made it clear that Rahul was their preferred number four and by the time the tournament ended for the Men in Blue, Rishabh Pant (116 runs from four innings) was the batsman batting at number four.
Playing on the big stage against the best in the world and not having a fixed batsman in a position which more often than not decides whether a team scores a defendable total or chases down a tough target was a shocker.
In fact, the over confidence and over dependence on the trio of Kohli, Rohit and Rahul came back to haunt the Indians on their last day in the showpiece event. All the three managed one each and by the time the middle-order came into the action, the game was in New Zealand's bag.
Jadeja's 77-run knock -- the highest in the history of the World Cup for a batsman batting at number eight in the second innings -- did raise hopes of an Indian fightback, but that didn't hide the fact that after the top three, the Indian batting looked vulnerable.
For all the criticism that Dhoni faced in the tournament, he was the fourth highest run-getter for India in the World Cup with 273 runs behind Rohit (648), Kohli (443) and Rahul (361).
While the team management kept believing that no opposition was good enough to dismiss the top three cheaply in the same game, the New Zealand bowlers led by Matt Henry and Trent Boult showed on Wednesday that past records and the tag of favourites meant nothing on the pitch.
Kohli brigade's big loss bleeds punters by over Rs 100 cr
Satta market in Delhi NCR virtually bled as hot favourites India suffered an unexpected defeat at the hands of New Zealand in the World cup semifinals on Wednesday. Sources said a large numbers of punters lost over Rs 100 crore as dark horse Kiwis finally registered a big win.
This was on a day when the Kiwis' under-average performance totalling 239 runs(in 50 overs match) had very few takers in the betting bazar. For the much-hyped semifinal challenge, the rate for favourite India was Rs 4.35 while for NZ, it was Rs 49! That meant, as per book-making, New Zealand was a loser, almost.
Surprisingly, in the session-to-session online bet placing, the punters, in the final stages of the match had favoured India (when the score was 200/6 and Dhoni & Jadeja were on the crease). But a big disappointment waited for them: New Zealand bounced back in the last two overs. Dhoni's run out at the fag end of the game came as a heartbreaker for punters, as all their money went down the drain, leaving the bookies with the booty. Those who placed their bets on NZ also had a feel of winning a lottery.
"The satta bazaar yo-yoed in initial three overs when a much confident Team India's top three batsman -- R. Sharma, K.L. Rahul and skipper Virat Kohli -- lost their wickets and went back to the pavilion in just 5 runs. "Our hope was high yesterday, but today it turned into the biggest nightmare of this World Cup with the miserable defeat of India," Rajveer Singh (not his real name), Gurugram's Sadar Bazaar-based punter, told IANS.
"Besides Gurugram, Ghaziabad, Faridabad, and Delhi, where thousands of big punters had reserved suites and rooms in five star hotels for organising late night parties, had to cancel their parties/get-togethers after they suffered huge losses as India went down fighting in the 48th over," Rajveer Singh said, adding that he lost over Rs 10 crore that he had gained from previous matches.
For others as well, it was a party that was not to be. "I was very happy when I saw top four Indian batsman losing their wickets before 10 overs and, even the Indian bowlers were not in form -- all because I had placed my bids on New Zealand. I took maximum risk and it perfectly turned out to be a lottery," revealed Siddharth Mishra (not his real name), a Delhi-based bidder.
"We lost badly today. Even in session-to-session bidding, punters lost huge amounts as they had placed bets on Dhoni-Jadeja partnership which was in top form during the last session," said another punter. India's crash at Old Trafford, finally, pushed Ghaziabad's trading mandi, known for satta, into gloom.
The betting bazaars in Delhi had gone crazy on Tuesday as the police estimated that the bids in the illegal satta (betting) market had crossed the Rs 150-crore mark in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Bets were placed on the margin of victory in terms of runs and wickets and also on whether runs scored by India and New Zealand could be 400-plus or below 400.
An interesting bet was on as to who would take more than three wickets from both camps -- whether it would be spinners or pace bowlers. Also, was it to be Jaspirt Bumrah/Yuzvendra Chahal or New Zealand's Trent Boult or Lockie Ferguson?
The base betting rate of Indian players, for example, in case of Bumrah, it was Rs 20, while for Boult, it was Rs 7, said a source.
The other bets were on star batsmen -- Indian skipper Virat Kohli, his deputy Rohit Sharma, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill -- whether they would score half-century or a century.