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Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Wishing Men in Blue - a win in the Semi finals : ICC WC 2023

 Tomorrow at Wankhede, the first Semifinals involving Team India and New Zealand.  Team India having the World Cup of their wildest dreams and it has nothing to do with the fact they are undefeated in it.  In recent few years, they have tried newer compositions, trying as many as 50 different players across four years and 66 matches.  They have contrived to keep the World best spin bowler of present era Ravichandran Ashwin warming the benches too .. .. but they have been winning, winning with all departments firing and Team performing as a cohesive unit.


The previous match at Dharamshala in the group encounter ended with Virat Kohli trying to repeat what he did against Bangladesh - refuse singles with India in sight of victory in order to try and reach his hundred. India won quite comfortably and  have been playing the same XI since their fifth league game, which was against New Zealand in Dharamsala.

Some have been recalling that Semi finals loss 4 years ago.  It was a semi-final spread over 28 hours and 24 minutes, and it contained some of the defining features of this World Cup. Rain, enough of it to force the match into a reserve day. Terrific new-ball bowling. Incredible fielding. A tricky, two-paced surface that kept scoring rates down, but also ensured neither team was ever entirely out of the contest. Indian bowlers did extremely well, constraining NZ -  Bhuvneshwar got de Grandhomme with a clever slower bouncer, cramping him for room on the ramp/uppercut, and New Zealand were 200 for 5 in 44.4.  and when  New Zealand were 211/5 in the 46th over rain stopped play. Eventually the target was 240. 

Chasing 240, India had  big trouble losing top 3 at 5 - then 92 for 6, and were somehow still in the contest.  Ravindra  Jadeja had taken 1 for 34 in his 10 overs,  had been electric in the field, running out Taylor with a flat direct hit from the deep and catching Tom Latham with a backwards leap at deep midwicket. At  203 for 6, India  needed 37 from the last 18 balls.  Jadeja, who had performed at the peak of his ability in every bit and piece of his cricketing skillset, finally miscued a slower ball from Trent Boult to depart for 77 off 59 balls. Dhoni,  nudged and nurdled his way to 43 with only one boundary, carved Lockie Ferguson for six over point at the start of the 49th over to bring the equation down to 25 off 11 balls. But in an attempt to keep the strike, he turned for a desperate second run two balls later, and was beaten to the keeper's end by an inch, undone by a breathtaking direct hit from Martin Guptill.  A rarity, Dhoni getting run out .. .. and India lost the match!! 

The very first encounter between the two teams was at Manchester, June 14, 1975 – inaugural Prudential World Cup.  After that blemish of 36* in 60 overs by Sunil Gavaskar in the first match against England,  a spirited 70 by Abid Ali batting at number 7 gave Indian innings lot of respectability.   The  first six batsmen had gone for 101 runs in face of   pace bowling by the Hadlee brothers, Dayle and Richard. Madan Lal was the first to give Ali the support he so vitally needed and Venkataraghavan with a fine fighting innings of 26 that enabled Ali to reach 70 and hit one 6 and five 4's before falling to McKechnie. He was ninth man out at 217. Bedi defended well for the remainder of the 60 overs, but was run out off the last ball with India totalling 230.  Glenn  Turner, who batted stylishly and productively for three hours, hit thirteen boundaries and remained unbeaten for 114 as six other partners came and went for modest contributions.   

In 2003 WC at Centurion on 14.3.2003,  saw another New Zealand top-order batting collapse. A score of 146 was never going to be enough to trouble the highly-talented Indian batting line-up which was running high in that tournament too. 

India’s first win ever in an ODI against New Zealand came in the 5th match of Benson & Hedges World Series Cup at Perth on 9.12.1980.  New Zealand"s last pair, Lees and Chatfield, putting on 21 runs, the issue was in the balance until the very end. India batted first – Sunil Gavaskar was out first ball, Viswanath and Vengsarkar all failing, were bowled out for 162. Hadlee did the damage, striking with the first ball of each new spell, and won the Man of the Match award.  Indian bowlers performed well to win with this low score.  Roger Binny who opened the inning with Gavaskar had fine figures of - 9.5-1-41-4.      

Statistically the two teams have played 117 matches – India winning 59; New Zealand 50; 1 Tied and 7 no results.   Given the form and the statistics of this century, India should win the match – and Indian fans are hoping for that

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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