MANCHESTER: “Can we have the next World Cup in a desert please,” a frustrated fan asked on social media as the India-New Zealand World Cup semifinal got stuck in a limbo, thanks to a rain interruption, a common occurrence in this tournament.
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Rain was forecast for Tuesday in Manchester and duly made its appearance at two in the afternoon. New Zealand were 211 for five after 46.1 overs when the players had to leave the ground, the Indians doing so a bit reluctantly.
The local cut-off time for India to play 20 overs, the least required for a result, was 6.36 pm. The covers came off for a while before the drizzle restarted. The groundstaff continued to toil to keep the ground as dry as possible. But the effort was defeated by the notorious English weather and the match was pushed into the reserve day.
The game will recommence on Wednesday, which means New Zealand will bat the remaining overs of their essay and India will then get to overhaul the target in 50 overs. If there is any interruption, then the overs will be curtailed to a minimum of 20 overs. If no result is possible, then India will go through to the final because of their higher standing in the league stage.
The weather forecast for Wednesday warns of some rain but it’s not as bad as Tuesday. Hopefully, there will be more cricket and less rain. India would be happy with the development as the shift suits them. If they had to bat for 20 overs, the revised target could have been difficult to get on a wet ground. India have a much better chance of winning if it’s a full game.
Before the rain came, it was an engaging battle between bat and ball in which the ball had the better of exchanges. After early jitters, New Zealand recovered some ground as Kane Williamson (67, 95 balls, 6×4) stood up for his team yet again. Later, the other pillar of New Zealand batting, Ross Taylor (67 not out, 85 balls, 3×4, 1×6) fought hard to give the innings some heft.
Williamson has had exceptional luck with the toss in the World Cup and won his seventh in nine games at Old Trafford. Batting first was very much the better option but New Zealand experienced early hiccups as Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar made the new ball talk in overcast conditions.
The first run came off the 17th ball as Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls found the going tough. Guptill’s poor form and the sustained pressure exerted by the Indian pacers resulted in the opener poking at a rising Bumrah delivery for Virat Kohli to take a smart catch in the slips. With just 167 runs from nine games, Guptill would want to forget this World Cup in a hurry.
The first powerplay produced only 27 runs and Bumrah’s first spell read 4-1-10-1 as a charged-up India looked to take control. Captain Williamson was forced to play with extra circumspection and the innings crawled. Sensing the unease in the Kiwi camp, Kohli attacked – he once had three slips for Bumrah.
Williamson and Nicholls managed to keep their wickets intact for a while before Ravindra Jadeja produced a beauty to castle the latter, the ball turning enough to find a between the left-hander’s bat and pad.
The dismissal brought together Williamson and Taylor, who have been New Zealand’s saviours time and again.
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