World Cup 2019: Kiwi leader's sharp claws
New Zealand skipper Williamson showed he's a master tactician not only on the field, but also with a bat in hand as he aimed for a total that would give his strong attack a chance against India
New Zealand, for so long the bridesmaid but never the bride at the World Cup, has made the final for the second time running with the most exciting of hard fought wins over India.
This was a typical New Zealand victory. They battled like hell to post a defendable score, then swung the new ball to destroy the Indian top order but when the game was on the line it was a magnificent piece of fielding that finally put them on the motorway to Lord's.
Martin Guptill had endured a horrendous World Cup until he picked up the ball some thirty metres from the pitch, took aim and produced a direct hit to run out MS Dhoni as he was in the process of enacting yet another Houdini escape. That was the end of Dhoni's glittering World Cup career and it also shattered India's dream.
Jadeja to the rescue
When Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul are dismissed for a total of three runs you know India are in trouble. At 92-6 it was deep trouble but Ravindra Jadeja displayed his skill and nerve to take India to the brink before his star-studded day came to an end.
He commenced the second day of this ODI with a great run out of his own and then a brilliant catch to still any New Zealand thoughts of a riotous end to an innings that had been halted by rain on the first day.
The scheduled day of the game had begun with the Indian opening bowlers performing at their best with two maiden overs. This was an indication of what lay ahead for a New Zealand line-up heavily dependent on skipper Kane Williamson. As usual Jasprit Bumrah was the leading light but this time he brought Bhuvneshwar Kumar along with him, as he shed the rust from his last outing.
India's miserly bowling left New Zealand struggling after the first powerplay. However, Williamson showed himself to be a master tactician not only in the field, but with a bat in hand as he aimed for a score that would give his strong attack a chance.
He found a stubborn ally in Ross Taylor who, despite not being in the best form, battled hard to carry out his skipper's directions. As the second day dawned with the sun out it seemed that New Zealand had fallen well short of a defendable target.
But that was to reckon without Matt Henry. He produced a beauty to send back the run machine Rohit and followed that with a teasing delivery that found an uncertain Rahul prodding nervously.
In between time Trent Boult's thoughtful planning brought Kohli undone and a hat-trick of ones at the top of the order had the Kiwis believing. Nevertheless it wasn't until Jadeja's glorious day finished with a mis-hit and Guptill found the target with the ball if not the bat, that New Zealand could start planning for their second successive World Cup final.
If the England revival is genuine and they can defeat Australia then we will have a first time winner at Lord's. That would cap off a World Cup that started slowly but is now gathering pace as the drama mounts.
All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja's score against New Zealand yesterday is the highest by any India batsman at No. 8 in World Cups and the second-best overall after Australia's Nathan Coulter-Nile (92 v West Indies on June 6)
The batting position at which Jadeja became the first Indian to score a half-century at World Cups
This is New Zealand's first WC semi-final win in Manchester, having lost two previously (against England and Pakistan in 1979 and 1999 respectively)
The partnership between Jadeja and Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the highest seventh-wicket stand by any pair in World Cups
No. of times New Zealand have emerged victorious in their eight World Cup semi-final appearances so far
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