CWC19: First Semi-final New Zealand vs India – Five Things We Learned

What did Adrian Meredith learn from New Zealand’s upset victory over India?

I am still recovering from that one. I had switched over during the innings break, thinking that the match was over, as my wife and I enjoyed the latest episode of one of our favourite shows, and I was expecting the score to be something around 0/60 off 10 overs, with Rohit Sharma bullying the New Zealand bowlers. Instead it read 4/24, with Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli both out. I had to check the scoreboard and review the footage to see how on earth that had happened. Was my cousin right that New Zealand would win because they won the warm-up match so easily? It certainly didn’t look that way yesterday, when rain fell to leave New Zealand on 6/211 off 46.1 overs and all we were hoping for today was for India to bat 20 overs so that we had a match, as nobody wanted India to go through to the final by virtue of finishing higher on the table.

Perhaps it was complacency that did it. I was complacent, as were most people watching it. I was so complacent I even allowed myself to have some family time rather than watch the first 10 overs of India’s innings, as I was so sure that India would win easily. It has to go down as an upset, but, more than that, as a very entertaining match.

When Ravindra Jadeja came out to bat suddenly it went from an easy New Zealand victory to something that India could win, and, right up until he was out caught in the deep, India were on top. Even the next over, when Dhoni hit one over the ropes, it looked like India were ahead, and, but for some indecisive running, combined with a direct hit from Martin Guptill, India still might have got there, but once Dhoni was run out the match was over. It was a good thing that that last ball was adjudged to be out, even though it didn’t look out.

It is probably the match of the tournament. Not the closest one in terms of margins but certainly in terms of back and forth it was. Probably the Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan match was the next best. It was worthy of a semi-final. Hopefully the other semi-final and the final are just as exciting.

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Five Things We Learned:

(1) New Zealand were saving themselves for the semi-finals?

I had wondered about this in my preview, as we see this often in sports like football, when a team qualifies for the finals well before the final match then just saves themselves for the finals, as their play drops off significantly. It doesn’t always work, as sometimes teams who do that then find that they are so out of form that they’ve forgotten how to win, but it is a good way to avoid injuries and even to lull the opponents into a false sense of security. Perhaps that was what New Zealand were doing. If so, beware whoever has to face them.

(2) India never got into top gear

I felt that India were never really in tip top form, and I had expected them to really push themselves in the last few round robin matches or at least in the semi-finals, but it never came out, and, as I had said many times during the round robin matches, India needed to show their best to win the semi-final. They didn’t do it and so they lost.

(3) England should be banned from hosting World Cups

While I am thankful that we had a reserve day and got to finish the match, seriously, England, get some roofs on your ground, or at least some decent drainage systems, or at the bare minimum play outside of the rainy season. The main reason that the World Cup was hosted now and not a month later was because the Ashes is more important. No more World Cups for England until they can fix this nonsense. It shouldn’t be happening in a semi-final. This is worse than 2007.

(4) Jadeja wow

So this Ravindra Jadeja kid, I mean, wow, why wasn’t he in the side for the earlier games? I’ve seen him bat like this with Dhoni before too, plus he bowls. It just makes no sense that he wasn’t in India’s first XI. He nearly got India home. He put them into a winning position. I mean, Dhoni was good too. Then he fell at just the wrong moment. Can’t blame him, though.

(5) New Zealand enter their second World Cup final in a row

If their opponents are England then we will have someone winning their first ever World Cup. If their opponents are Australia then we will have a repeat of the last World Cup final, a crazy story given that the teams were ranked 4th and 5th before the World Cup began, and were 3rd and 5th favourites. It’s an incredible story either way, and this has to go down as an upset and a half. Even the most optimistic New Zealanders weren’t expecting this, not when they could only manage 239 on the same ground that South Africa managed 325 – and Australia 315 in reply – just a few days earlier. It’s crazy stuff. But it’s happened.

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