New Zealand were the finalists in 2015 as well when they along with Australia hosted the World Cup, but were beaten in the final by Australia.
Today’s semi-final had all their ingredients of a one-day game with fortunes swaying from one side to the other. The defining moment of the match came in the 49th over when Martin Guptill who’s had a rather ordinary World Cup so far with the bat, ran out the great finisher in one-day cricket MS Dhoni for 50 with a direct hit from backward square leg as Dhoni attempted a risky second run to retain the strike.
With Dhoni gone India who required 25 runs from nine balls found the pressure too much for their tail to handle and lost Bhuvneshwar Kumar for nought and Yuzvendra Chahal for five as New Zealand closed out the game to provide a tremendous finish.
Dhoni who was playing his 350th ODI and Ravindra Jadeja had looked like carrying India to a sensational win when they came together in a partnership of 116 off 104 balls when their side was reeling at 92-6 in the 31st over.
Jadeja played a tremendous innings under pressure hitting four sixes and as many fours in his knock of 77 off 59 balls but Trent Boult the spearhead of the New Zealand bowling broke the partnership with Jadeja’s wicket when he skied a catch to Williamson at long-off. But still India believed that they could cross the finishing line with Dhoni still batting.
Dhoni gave a glimpse of repeating his match winning knock of the 2011 World Cup against Sri Lanka when he hit the first ball of the 49th over bowled by Ferguson for six over point, but the third ball of the over ended all India’s hopes when he was run out for 50 scored off 72 balls (1 six, 1 four).
When play resumed today India kept New Zealand down to a moderate total of 239-8 by conceding only one four off the remaining 23 balls that were left to complete the innings after rain had forced the first semi-final into a second day. New Zealand started at 209-5 and Ross Taylor went onto make a top score of 74 off 90 balls before he became the victim of two outstanding pieces of fielding from Jadeja.
The Indian all-rounder ran out Taylor with a direct hit from midwicket and in another sensational display of fielding plucked the ball hit by Tom Latham that was travelling for six from the boundary line.
To defend that small target New Zealand needed to get early wickets and their new ball bowlers Boult and Matt Henry were simply outstanding giving their team a dream start by reducing India to five for three wickets.
Henry in his very first over got rid of the most prolific scorer of the 2019 World Cup Rohit Sharma for one when he feathered a catch to wicket keeper Latham.
After Boult had trapped the Indian captain Virat Kohli lbw, Henry once again produced another superb delivery to have Lokesh Rahul edging another catch behind the wicket. By the third over India were stuttering at five for three with the first three batters being dismissed for one apiece.
New Zealand produced one of the most dramatic first 10-overs of power play reducing India to 24-4. India was thrown into a situation they had not experienced before in the tournament and under pressure they came out second best to New Zealand.
Rishab Pant and Hardik Pandya promoted in the batting ahead of Dhoni both fell under pressure exerted by the New Zealand bowlers especially left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner who accounted for both their dismissals bowling to a miserly line and length.
At 92-6 it seemed the game was as good as over until Dhoni joined by Jadeja gave it a fillip and almost turned the game around for India.
Henry with the key wickets Sharma, Rahul and Dinesh Karthik for 37 runs was made Man of the Match. Boult took 2 for 42 and Santner 2 for 32 as New Zealand really turned the screws on the strong Indian batting subjecting them to a defeat which they would never had dreamt of after keeping the Black Caps down to a score of 239-8.
New Zealand will meet the winners of the second semi-final between England and Australia at Edgbaston, Birmingham scheduled for Thursday.