Cricket world melts down in Cup stunner
New Zealand has pulled off a staggering upset to knock India out of the World Cup and advance to the final after a dramatic second innings in their blockbuster clash.
Rain cancelled play near the end of New Zealand's batting innings on the day the first semi-final was scheduled and both teams had to come back again on Wednesday to finish the match.
The extra night's sleep worked wonders for the Kiwis but not for India, who collapsed with the bat to ensure Kane Williamson and Co. qualified for their second successive World Cup final - but not before an almighty scare.
Chasing 240 for victory, MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja took the game to the wire, rescuing their side after a flurry of early wickets to make Kiwi hearts beat faster but in the end they fell agonisingly short.
From 4/24 India found itself needing 37 to win with three overs left and four wickets in hand, but the duo couldn't get the job done.
Jadeja skied Trent Boult into the air and was caught for a magnificent 77 off 59 balls and next over Dhoni was run out for 49 to end the Indian resistance and New Zealand celebrated a nerve-racking 18-run win.
"Great semi-final over two days and very pleased to be on the right side of it. It was really tough and we had to assess the conditions," Kiwi skipper Williamson said.
"We were underdogs coming into the semis ... and all these sides have beaten each other. Anything can happen on any day. It was nice to see the guys fight for two days."
The cricket world raved about the thriller in Manchester.
On Twitter, former England star Adam Hollioake wrote: "Unbelievable a country of 4.8m whose national sport is rugby can defeat a country of 1.2bn whose national sport is cricket...Unbelievable achievement."
Best cricket I’ve seen for a long while!!— Albie Morkel (@albiemorkel) July 10, 2019
Stunning result in Manchester!! I had predicted an England-India final but NZ have been brilliant, unbelievable effort to restrict this India batting for such low total. Great game for Jadeja, hard luck India— Shahid Afridi (@SAfridiOfficial) July 10, 2019
After finishing its 50 overs at 8/239 - a sub-par score most pundits thought would be far too meagre to defend in the face of an explosive Indian batting line-up - the Black Caps stunned everyone as they began their bowling effort with a bang.
Three wickets in nine balls reduced the Indians to 3/5 after four overs as Rohit Sharma - who had scored five centuries already in the World Cup - Virat Kohli and KL Rahul were all sent packing for one.
Matt Henry had Sharma and Rahul caught behind while Boult trapped Kohli LBW.
The Indian skipper went upstairs to review the decision but Hawkeye showed the inswinging delivery was going to clip the very top of the bails and he was on his way back to the pavilion.
New Zealand turned the screws and soon had its fourth wicket when Jimmy Neesham took an absolute screamer at backward point to dismiss Dinesh Kartik.
The middle order batsman got a thick outside edge and Neesham dived low to his left to pluck a one-handed beauty just above the turf, giving Henry his third scalp and India was 4/24.
Hardik Pandya joined Rishabh Pant at the crease and India fans on social media couldn't believe Dhoni was being held back in the sheds.
The veteran wicketkeeper has played the anchor role with the bat all tournament - at times being criticised for scoring too slow at the end of an innings - and although this situation seemed tailor made for him he was kept on ice.
Pant fell for 32 in the 22nd over after miscuing a wild heave that left Kohli absolutely filthy.
Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner had started economically and Pant lost patience at the end of the tweaker's second over, trying to slog sweep him for six only to find the safe hands of Colin de Grandhomme at deep mid-wicket.
Cameras quickly panned to Kohli in the dressing room and his reaction made it perfectly clear he was ropeable with his young teammate, even rushing out onto the balcony to complain to coach Ravi Shastri.
English legend Kevin Pietersen branded Pant's brain snap "pathetic" on Twitter.
How many times have we seen @RishabPant777 do that?????!!!!!— Kevin Pietersen🦏 (@KP24) July 10, 2019
The very reason he wasn’t picked initially!
Pandya also fell for 32 in the same fashion when he top edged a swipe across the line off Santner and all hope looked lost for India, who had been reduced to 6/92.
But Dhoni stayed calm and Jadeja came out firing to keep their team in the hunt. Jadeja blasted a half century off 39 balls with two fours and three sixes and, as he always does upon reaching a milestone, waved his bat like a sword as he acknowledged him teammates' applause from the dressing room.
The pair kept chugging along and even though they required more than 10 runs an over, the target was still within their grasp as they reached the final overs.
India needed 37 runs to win from the final 18 deliveries but Boult produced a near-perfect over, conceding just five runs from the first four balls getting the vital wicket of Jadeja.
The left-hander tried to bomb Boult down the ground but could only sky the ball in the air and Williamson swallowed the catch under immense pressure and Jadeja departed for 77 off 59 balls.
A direct hit run out in the penultimate over then got rid of Dhoni for 49 and the fat lady was warming up her vocal chords.
Another wicket in the same over was followed by Neesham's first scalp in the final over and India was all out for 221, 18 runs shy of the target.
Kohli said: "Difficult to take it, but New Zealand deserve it. Our shot selection could have been better, but we played a good standard of cricket throughout. New Zealand were braver in crunch situations and they deserve it."
New Zealand will play either Australia or India in the final at Lord's on Sunday.
On day one of what turned out to be a two-day clash, the Kiwi batsmen struggled for rhythm and found scoring difficult. Only Williamson (67 off 95) and Ross Taylor (74 off 90) made any impact with the willow before the rain came.
Day two started with the final few overs of New Zealand's innings and Taylor and Tom Latham both fell in quick succession, leaving India with what looked like a comfortable chase.
Let No tell you cricket is boring...this is unbelievable stuff from both teams today 👏🏿👏🏿 #CWC19— Alex Tudor (@alextudorcoach) July 10, 2019