Kohli’s men go down fighting in World Cup Semi-final

The skies in Manchester were grey, but it was the Indians who were desolate at the end of the day.

The first semi-final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 had so much drama, heartbreak and rains in store that it had to be extended to the Reserve Day. India and New Zealand, accustomed to the pressure and nerves of playing at the big stage, put up a superb show of cricket at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground.

India, being asked to bowl first, started the match on a fine note – three maidens, following up with a Jasprit Bumrah wicket in the fourth over. Martin Guptill’s poor stint at the tournament hurt the Kiwis early on. However, skipper Kane Williamson was the Kiwis’ main-stay as he stitched a steady partnership with Ross Taylor. However, the rest of the team failed to make any significant contribution with the bat as the Indian bowlers came good.

In the 47th over, the scoreboard read 211/5, and the rains decided to play spoilsport. With the rain shower being unrelenting and pitch not fit to play on, the umpires decided to suspend play and continue the game on Wednesday.

With clearer skies, the match resumed yesterday, and Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar did supremely well to not concede runs in the death overs. With aid from Ravindra Jadeja in the outfield, India limited the Kiwis to 239/8 in their 50 overs.

Team India, coming off two back-to-back 100+ run opening-stands, failed to deliver this time. The Blackcaps got a dream start as they had the top-order back in the shed cheaply. Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli and Dinesh Karthik fell for single digits as India were maimed at 24/4. Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya steadied the ship to some extent, but got out for 32 runs each.

It was then up to MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja to take the team over the line. And what a remarkable effort it was – a determined Jadeja gave the population of over a billion the hope of entering the World Cup final. He smashed a 59-ball 77 to take India closer to the target. After he departed, Dhoni was close to getting the situation under control when a moment of brilliance in the field by Guptill got him run-out.

With Dhoni walking back, India’s dreams of getting close to the World Cup finale diminished. Two soft dismissals of the Indian tail brought India’s CWC ’19 campaign to a close. A fine show with the ball took Kiwis to their second consecutive World Cup final, resulting in the demise of India’s hope for the coveted prize.

The nation is brooding over the outcome of the match, but is proud of the team’s remarkable accomplishments at the World Cup. Rohit’s centuries, Kohli’s consistency, Bumrah’s brilliance and numerous moments at the World Cup gave India reasons to rejoice and remember fondly. Thank you, Team India!