World Cup 2019: Team India's top three score just one run apiece
Team India's top three scoring one run apiece pierced Virat Kohli and Co deep
Manchester: Miracles do happen in cricket. India nearly achieved one but fell short by a mere 18 runs. Veteran MS Dhoni and supposedly 'bits and pieces' player Ravindra Jadeja nearly pulled it off with a record seventh-wicket century partnership. But in the end it was heart-break for 1.3 billion fans back home as the Mn in Blue crashed out of the World Cup in the semis.
Devastated is too mild a word to describe the emotions of the Indian fans as they saw Team India fall criminally short of making it to their fourth World Cup final. One would expect India to overhaul a target of 240 nine out of 10 times in any conditions and on any pitch, but the one time that did not happen was yesterday, against New Zealand, who bowled impressively. The Kiwis thus made it to their second successive final and now await the winners of the other semi-final between Australia and England at Birmingham today, in the final to be played at Lord's on Sunday.
KL Rahul walks back after being dismissed for one v NZ. Pic/ PTI
Flops at the top
The Indian batting has been too heavily dependent on their top three and when the trio of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli scored just a run apiece, their chase was derailed even before it took off. Once the top-order was gone in a jiffy, it was too much to expect from the fragile middle-order. Yet, for a while, young turks Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya put up some resistance but with the run rate mounting, the pressure got to them and they threw away their wickets playing extravagant stroke. However, they remain the future of the Indian cricket and will get more chances to prove their worth on the world stage. But it was sad to see Dhoni's World Cup career, if not ODI career, come to a not-so-happy end, despite a well-controlled half-century.
Rohit Sharma walks back after being dismissed for one v NZ. Pic/ Getty Images
MSD, Jadeja fight back
He and Jadeja waged a superb fightback to raise hopes before the latter holed out with the target in sight and Dhoni was run out to a brilliant throw from square leg by Martin Guptill. Dhoni would've loved to put up one final show at the Mecca of cricket before bowing out, but it's not to be.
Rohit Sharma had said after scoring his record fifth century in Leeds against Sri Lanka that all his feats and piles of runs will hold no meaning if India do not win the World Cup.
There can be no solace from the fact that India had done well in the league phase before fading out in the knockouts. In the previous World Cup in Australia too their challenge had ended in the semi-finals, losing to the hosts in Sydney.
All India can do now is earnestly prepare for next year's World T20 in Australia and the next World Cup back home in four years' time.
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