The notorious Manchester weather pushed the first semifinal of the World Cup to the reserve day after dominant Indian bowlers excelled yet again to restrict New Zealand to a sub-par 211/5 on Tuesday. Rain forced players off the field after 46.1 overs and as per ICC’s playing conditions, the game will resume on Wednesday from where it stopped. Despite half-centuries from skipper Kane Williamson (67 off 95 balls) and veteran Ross Taylor (67 not out off 85 balls), the Black Caps could not force the pace against tournament’s best bowling attack. (SCORECARD)
By the time when the covers were off at 10 PM IST, the outfield had too much water and there was no way match could have started. However, the day belonged to the Indian bowlers as skipper Virat Kohli found out that it was a good toss to lose. After a brilliant start by Jasprit Bumrah (1/25 in 8 overs) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/30 in 8.1 overs), Ravindra Jadeja (1/38 off 10 overs) and Hardik Pandya (1/55 in 10 overs) did well in the middle overs to keep the opposition under check. (MATCH HIGHLIGHTS)
If the first Powerplay was witness to fine exhibition of swing bowling under overcast conditions, the middle overs had Pandya using the newly-laid two-paced pitch to good effect, bringing the slow bouncer to the fore.
That was one delivery that Taylor initially found difficult to get away as the dot ball count increased with each over.
Martin Guptill (1) looked like a walking wicket’ and Bumrah relieved him off his misery with a delivery that kicked up from three-quarter length, forcing him to push at it. Kohli at second slip made no mistake with a sharp chance.
Williamson looked compact in his defence along with the edgy Henry Nicholls (28 off 51 balls) during their 68-run second wicket stand.
Such was the impact of the first spell bowled by Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar that the Black Caps innings never gained the momentum. But credit should also be given to Jadeja and Hardik for keeping the Kiwis under a tight leash.
Jadeja vindicated his skipper’s decision with tight wicket-to-wicket bowling and the odd one that turned created problems for Nicholls. He had 38 dots to his credit by the time he ended the spell.
Williamson, who was getting into some sort of rhythm, however, couldn’t capitalise as Taylor got stuck playing one dot ball after another. In fact, during the crucial second Powerplay, New Zealand managed only 65 runs in 17 overs as Chahal got decent turn off his leg-breaks.
The New Zealand captain, who was hitting a few slog sweeps against the turn was getting impatient having reached 50 off 79 balls. Williamson paid the price by gifting his wicket to the leg-spinner when his team needed him the most. Taylor upped the ante in the final overs with three boundaries and a six but it looks unlikely to be enough.
A fresh day will certainly be advantageous for India as it will be a continuation and not a restart. Any advantage earned on the scheduled day will be carried through to the reserve day. Super over will determine the winner, if it’s a tied match.
If the match doesn’t happen on Wednesday, then India will progress to the final by virtue of finishing on top of the league table.
(With PTI Inputs)