Set a modest 240 for victory, Indian fans already had their World Cup Final tickets booked. Early in the run chase, the scoreboard read 3-5, and shockwaves reverberated throughout the entire cricketing world.
Even after making it all the way to the Final in 2015, New Zealand have never truly been considered among the top tier of cricketing nations, but showed exactly why they deserve to be in the gutsy upset.
The Kiwis were on the back foot from the get-go when misfiring opener Martin Guptill fell for one in the fourth over. Opting against the modern style of powerhouse hitting, New Zealand played smart and calculated cricket while keeping the scoreboard ticking.
Valuable middle order contributions from skipper Kane Williamson (67 off 95) and Ross Taylor (74 off 90) – who was felled by a spectacular Ravindran Jadeja run out – guided the Kiwis to a respectable 4-162 at the conclusion of the 41st over.
The back end of the innings lacked the commonplace firepower of the modern day game (and spanned over two days thanks to some typical English weather), but various small contributions from the middle to lower order proved crucial, seeing the Kiwis stumble to 8-239 at the conclusion of their 50 overs.
Rain forced the match to be played over two days
Surely not enough to hold off group stage minor premiers and heavy favourites. Bhuvenshwar Kumar was the only standout bowler for India, mowing through the tail to pick up 3-43 from his 10 overs.
Nothing compares to the pressure of a World Cup finals run chase – no matter the total. The largely favoured Indian batsman found that out the hard way in the middle of Old Trafford.
The Kiwis were hungry, hungry for their maiden World Cup title, hungry for their nation’s biggest cricketing success, hungry to finally prove that they are a force to be reckoned with in the world of cricket.
India ran into their first hurdle when the tournament’s leading run scorer Rohit Sharma snicked off to Matt Henry (3-37) for one in the second over.
They’re downhill trajectory only worsened when Trent Boult (2-42) trapped the world’s best ODI batsman Virat Kohli for an underwhelming one the very next over.
Matt Henry claimed the scalp of Lokesh Rahul, also for one in the fourth over and the red hot favourites were in damage control at 3-5 after 3.1 overs.
Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik briefly steadied the ship before Henry dismissed Karthik via a brilliant James Neesham one handed catch to claim his third wicket and reduce India to a lowly 4-24.
Hardik Pandya and Pant combined for India’s first respectable partnership of the match, combining for a further 47 runs before Mitch Santner (2-34) had Rishabh Pant caught in the outfield for a fighting 32 off 56. His uncharacteristically low strike rate emphasising India’s precarious position.
The 31st over bought the end of Hardik Pandya for 32 off 62 and India were still struggling on 6-92. With the master of run-chases MS Dhoni and aggressive tail-ender Ravindra Jadeja at the crease, there was time aplenty to pull off the impossible.
Jadeja bashed his way to a quick fire 77 from just 59 balls before holing out to Kane Williamson off the bowling of Santner with 32 runs needed off the final 13 balls.
The equation was unlikely but still achievable, courtesy of MS Dhoni’s presence. From his 47 not outs in Indian run chases, only one of those have resulted in a loss, the other 46 heralding wins. Highlighting the importance of keeping India’s iceman at the crease.
The killer blow came when 38 year old Dhoni fell victim to a Martin Guptill run out by the barest of margins. A billion Indian hearts simultaneously shattering as the big screen shone an ominous red, and those three cruelling letters – O U T – were displayed.
The match defining run out that broke a billion hearts
Dhoni’s calculated 50 off 72 would go down in vain. With India’s miracle worker dismissed, and 24 runs required off just nine balls, New Zealand looked like pulling off what was not long ago the unthinkable.
An over later they achieved the astonishing feat and secured their place in a second successive World Cup Final, reducing India to 221 off 49.3 overs to claim an 18 run victory at Old Trafford.
With India’s population 325 times that of their triumphant, it was a true David and Goliath tale. The welterweight nation of New Zealand continuing to defy the bookmakers, and fearlessly claim heavyweight scalps.
If they can do it again in five days time, they will be crowned kings, the cricketing world their empire.