New Zealand secured a surprise 18-run victory over India at Old Trafford on Wednesday to advance to their second successive World Cup final.
Kiwi pacers rocked India batting early on in their chase of 240, reducing them to 24-4. While Matt Henry was the player of the match for his three wickets, left-arm seamer Trent Boult took the prized scalp of India captain Virat Kohli and then top scorer Ravindra Jadeja.
Boult talked about dismissing Kohli lbw for one, insisting he didn’t plan it.
“No, it wasn’t planned. I don’t want to sound like I’m a magician against the best player in the world. But it’s just nice to see everything line up and I think we saw them three for six at one stage,” Boult said.
A World Cup campaign that was looking so promising for India ultimately ended on a sorry note with the Men in Blue suffering an 18-run loss at the hands of New Zealand in the semi-final.
Virat Kohli and his men had stormed into the last four with just one defeat before they were eventually sucker-punched by the Kiwis in the knockouts.
While their semi-final exit will skew the final outlook, there is no denying that India did display some fine cricket over the course of the tournament.
Here, we rate how their squad fared during the 2019 World Cup.
KL Rahul – 7/10
Two half-centuries and a ton were a decent contribution from KL Rahul who opened the innings alongside Rohit following the injury to Shikhar Dhawan. He too failed to fire in the crunch clash.
Rohit Sharma – 9/10
The ‘Hitman’ became the first batsman in history to slam five centuries in a single World Cup edition but he will be despondent after his semi-final failure. Fell just short of breaking Sachin Tendulkar’s record tally of 673 runs in the 2003 World Cup.
Shikhar Dhawan – 7/10
The left-hander’s campaign lasted just two games due to an unfortunate thumb injury but he did show his class in ICC tournaments again with a match-winning ton against Australia.
Virat Kohli – 7.5/10
The India skipper barely played a poor innings in the tournament before the semi-final shocker but uncharacteristically failed to convert any of his five half-centuries into a ton.
Vijay Shankar – 5/10
The all-rounder played just three games before a toe-injury brought his campaign came to an end. Bar his two wickets against Pakistan, he did not really have any impact.
Rishabh Pant – 6/10
The youngster arrived in the tournament as a late replacement for Shankar and was immediately thrust into the No4 slot. Showed some good things overall but played a shocker of a shot to get dismissed in the semi-final just when he was building a good innings.
MS Dhoni – 6/10
The veteran didn’t exactly cover himself in glory in his final World Cup campaign despite registering two half-centuries. Faced plenty of criticism for his strike-rate while his wicketkeeping displays were also below his usual high standard.
Dinesh Karthik – 3/10
Played just two innings in the tournament and he failed miserably in both of them including the semi-final. Didn’t justify his squad selection.
Hardik Pandya – 7/10
The all-rounder was pretty consistent throughout the tournament with both bat and ball but he will feel he could have done a lot more with the former.
Kedar Jadhav – 4/10
A battling half-century against Afghanistan was Jadhav’s only saving grace in the tournament before he lost his spot to Karthik at the business end.
Ravindra Jadeja – 8/10
The all-rounder played just two games but he came out with his ODI reputation enhanced after some sterling displays. Would have been the man-of-the-match in the semi-final had India ended up on the winning side. As a substitute in most games, his fielding was exceptional.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar – 7/10
The seamer did a tidy job overall especially in the semi-final and only really had one poor game in the tournament. Nine wickets in six outings is a decent return.
Kuldeep Yadav – 6/10
The young wrist-spinner started the campaign on a promising note but his impact faded away before he was eventually dropped from the playing XI after expensive outings against Sri Lanka and England.
Yuzvendra Chahal – 6.5/10
The leg-spinner was excellent in the first half of the tournament but his performances in the business end left plenty to be desired. 12 wickets overall in eight matches for Chahal.
Mohammed Shami – 8/10
The pacer was behind Bhuvneshwar in the pecking order but began his campaign with 14 wickets in just three outings including a hat-trick against Afghanistan. However, one expensive display against Bangladesh saw him drop out of the playing XI in the latter stages.
Jasprit Bumrah – 9/10
The No1 ODI bowler in the world was at his very best in the World Cup and excelled equally with the new ball and in the death overs. Picked up 18 wickets overall while going at an economy-rate of only 4.41 runs an over.
‘Forty five minutes of bad cricket’ is what cost India a place in the final of the 2019 ICC World Cup according to skipper Virat Kohli, after they were stunned by New Zealand in the semi-final at Old Trafford.
Kohli was referring to the dramatic top-order capitulation by India in their chase of 240 which saw them reduced to 5-3 and eventually 24-4. India’s formidable top three of Rohit Sharma, Kohli and KL Rahul could muster only three runs between them as Matt Henry and Trent Boult wreaked havoc in Manchester.
While those 45 minutes might indeed have been the unraveling of what was an otherwise near perfect World Cup campaign for India, the warning signs had been present for some time.
A familiar script was followed in their 2017 ICC Champions Trophy final defeat at the hands of arch-rivals Pakistan at The Oval. Then too, the Men in Blue had advanced to the final after a nearly spotless campaign only to falter when it mattered most.
A top-order collapse had been the trigger to India’s massive defeat in that final with Mohammad Amir sending back Rohit, Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli inside the first 10 overs of the innings.
A blinder of an innings from Hardik Pandya was not enough to save India’s blushes and a similar defiant effort from Ravindra Jadeja on Wednesday yielded the same result.
Having an insanely prolific top-order comprising of Dhawan, Rohit and Kohli might be the envy of many international sides but it brings with it a recipe for disaster as seen in the Champions Trophy and now the World Cup semi-final.
Such has been their incredible consistency over the last few years that India can expect one of the top-three to hold anchor for the majority of their innings nine out of ten times. However, that rare instance when the top-order fails collectively as a unit leads to India’s middle-order being exposed and that is where a soft underbelly lies.
Unfortunately for the Men in Blue and Kohli, that ‘one out of 10’ probability has occurred on the worst possible occasions of the 2017 Champions Trophy final and the last two World Cup semi-finals in a row.
The question India need to ask is why they haven’t been able to solve their middle-order muddle in the last two years or so. India simply did not know what their best middle-order combination was for the World Cup and it came back to bite them hard in a knockout clash.
They had been unsure about the No4 slot before the tournament even began and the problems were only compounded in the World Cup when they couldn’t make up their minds over Kedar Jadhav or Dinesh Karthik for the other middle-order slot.
The No4 batting slot has been a revolving door with various batsmen being tried out in the position over the last couple of years but none of them were able to convince completely.
It was Ambati Rayudu who had been persisted with the most in that position but he was dropped for Vijay Shankar just months before the World Cup. Shankar himself had not been entirely convincing and an untimely toe injury meant that it was young Rishabh Pant batting at No4 in the semi-final after not being picked in the original squad.
The situation on Wednesday was tailor-made for MS Dhoni to compose a rescue act but the veteran wicketkeeper bafflingly walked in to bat at No7 instead of being promoted. Dhoni’s declining hitting power in international cricket had been evident for quite some time but India failed to utilise his main asset in the semi-final after things went wrong for the top-order.
Former India stalwart VVS Laxman was on point when he blamed India’s selectors for ignoring the elephant in the room that was the middle-order.
“The one criticism (for selectors) is that they fiddled around the middle order. You can’t always depend on Rohit and Virat,” Laxman had told Star Sports on Wednesday
The dust of India’s World Cup exit will take some time to settle but there is no doubt that they need to have a long and hard look about solving their middle-order woes before it comes back to cost them again in an important knockout clash.