Rain dampens India’s mood

A big screen board gives spectators information after the suspension of play for the day in the 2019 Cricket World Cup first semi-final between India and New Zealand at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on July 9, 2019. (AFP)

India and New Zealand spent over four hours in frustration before they got to know they have to come back to resume their semifinal on Wednesday after the incessant rain washed away more than half the duration of play on Tuesday.

New Zealand, after electing to bat first in the first World Cup semifinal, had laboured to 211/5 in 46.1 overs when the skies opened up at around 2.00 pm local time, ensuring no further play. The match will now commence from the point where it was stopped which means New Zealand will get a chance to complete their full quota of 50 overs. The play should have recommenced no later than 6.36 pm local time for an ODI match to constitute and with drizzle resuming during the course of umpire’s inspection at 6.10 pm, the day’s proceedings were called off at 6.22 pm.

It was, in a way, a blessing in disguise for India as they would have had to chase a target of 148 in 20 overs which could have been tricky on this surface against an attack that is backed by the best fielding unit in the tournament. If the rain continues to disrupt play on Wednesday too, best efforts will be made to get a 20-over innings for India again. And if that also fails to materialise, India will go through to the final by virtue of having finished ahead of New Zealand after the league stage.

ICC World Cup Semi-Final IND vs NZ: Play called off for the day, to resume at 15:00 IST on Wednesday

Earlier, New Zealand batsmen had found the going tough against some hostile fast bowling and a disciplined effort from the spinners. Jasprit Bumrah (1/25) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/30) exploited the overcast conditions and a deceptively tough surface to the hilt as the Kiwis could manage no more than 27/1 in the first 10 overs of power play – the lowest for this World Cup.

Both the seamers were on the money right from the word go with Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls, struggling to put their bat to the ball. The innings began on a dramatic note with India losing their review off the first ball when their decision to challenge umpire Richard Kettleborough’s not out decision went with the on-field umpire. It didn’t prove too costly for them as Guptill, when he finally managed to put his bat to the ball, nicked one to Virat Kohli at second slip.

The score board read 1/1 after 3.3 overs with the openers having played out 16 dot balls and it wasn’t until the 48th delivery that New Zealand scored their first boundary, a cover-driven four by Nicholls off Bumrah. The Indian paceman was livid with himself after bowling that rare overpitched ball that Nicholls latched on to, but still Bumrah’s first spell read 4-1-10-1.

Bhuvneshwar wasn’t to be denied his share of reward either after going wicketless in his first five probing overs as he got rid of Colin de Grandhomme who attempted to increase the tempo in the back end.

In between, Williamson (67, 95b, 6x4) carried the innings with two vital stands. The right-hander added 68 runs for the second wicket with Nicholls, who was cleaned up by Ravindra Jadeja (1/34) with the one that turned sharply into the left-hander. That linked up Williamson with Ross Taylor (67 n.o., 85b, 3x4, 1x6). Williamson looked comfortable without taking too many risks while Taylor appeared a little edgy. Nevertheless, the veteran batsman hung on as the duo raised 65 runs (106b) for the third wicket before Williamson miscued Yuzvendra Chahal (1/63) who was the only replacement for India, coming in place of Kuldeep Yadav.

After mustering just 155/3 after 40 overs, New Zealand got the much-needed push when Taylor cut loose, bringing out some of his vintage stuff. Having reached 38 off 66, the former captain raced to his next 29 runs in 19 balls as Chahal leaked 18 runs in his penultimate over. The Kiwis collected 56 runs in the last 37 balls of their innings. But for this rare phase of flourish, New Zealand total would have been much more anemic.

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