Friday, July 12, 2019

45 Minutes of Bad Play

“45 minutes of bad play and we are out of the tournament. Such is the knockout format of the World
Cup”. As Virat Kohli said this, 1.25 billion fans cried. Dhoni's run-out in the pen-ultimate over was a heart breaking moment. We knew it was all over once he was no longer there to take the team over the finishing line.

Such has been the tournament for the Indian team - the top order clicked in every match and we managed to grab the top spot in the group stage. Rohit, Shikhar, Kohli and even KL Rahul in the end played exceptional cricket to get the team through semis. But, at the back of the mind, there was always this the fear of middle order not being tested. It came back to haunt us. When it mattered the most, they failed. There was one straight-forward strategy which every team planned against India. Get the top 3 out early and you are in the game. No other team could do it but New Zealand played well to enter the finals at Lords.

At 5-3, the comeback was extremely difficult. It was a test of character for the middle order batsmen
coming next. Patience and perseverance was required in order to build the partnership, build the innings and sail the team through to the finals. With Pant and Pandya out in the middle stitching together a partnership, the hopes raised again. But you cannot replace experience with exuberance in such crunch situations. Their patience ran out and false strokes ended their stay at the crease. It was all left for Dhoni and Jadeja to salvage the pride. They tried hard, Dhoni played second fiddle to Jadeja, and there was sense of calmness. Ravindra Jadeja played one of his best ODI innings and made outstanding contribution with the ball as well as in the field. Amidst all the drama, the dream for World Cup was over the moment Martin Guptill hit the stumps directly to send Mahendra Singh Dhoni back to pavilion. This could very well be Dhoni's last ever match in a World tournament. The hearts wrenched out, the fans had tears, there was no fairy tale ending for Dhoni.

Giving all the credit to New Zealand, they strategized well and executed their plans to perfection. The
bowlers were right on the money and it was well supported by high spirited fielding. Hope they go on to win the World Cup finals and we see a new name on that coveted trophy.

Madhurendra Kumar for DieHard Cricket Fans

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