By A Special Correspondent in Manchester
India promised much in the 2019 Cricket World Cup, yet it was the ‘Fear of Failure’ that led to the fancied team’s shock defeat in the semi-final against New Zealand, who advanced to their second successive title encounter with an 18-run victory.
New Zealand, losing finalists of the 2015 World Cup that they co-hosted with Australia, rode on top scorer Ross Taylor’s 74 and captain Kane Williamson’s fine 67 to post 239 for eight wickets in 50 overs of the rain-disrupted semi-finals that spread to two days.
It was not the target that played on India’s mind, but they were undone by the loss of three top-order batsmen with just five runs on the board. Pacemen Matt Henry (three for 37) and Trent Boult (two for 42) had India reeling after openers Rohit Sharma, K.L. Rahul and skipper Virat Kohli were back in the pavilion in the initial 19 balls of the Indian innings.
India managed to fight back through a century partnership for the seventh wicket between all-rounder Ravinder Jadeja (77) and former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (50) but could not make up for the early slump and were all out for 221 in 49.3 overs .
Complimenting New Zealand for their victory, captain Kohli said 45 minutes of poor cricket had led to India’s dramatic ouster from the semi-finals.
As a fancied contemporary limited-over cricket team, India wre expected to have a crack at their third World Cup title triumph this summer. It was the faltering chase of a modest total that caused the end of a decent show in the World Cup, where the second-last semi-final line-up was finalised only after poor performers South Africa decimated the challenge of defending champions Australia.
The loss to South Africa was the second defeat Australia had suffered in their nine preliminary league outings, after a loss to India in what was the tournament’s showpiece game where batsmen displayed their stroke-play in the high-scoring contest.
Before they faltered against New Zealand, India were the standout performers from amongst the five Asian teams that featured in this World Cup. India had topped the standings in the preliminary round-robin league where all 10 teams played each other. This format was adopted for the first time since the 1992 edition was staged in Australia and New Zealand.
Pakistan’s nightmare of performance in the opening outing against the West Indies – when they were outplayed in quick time – stayed with them till the end. The disadvantage of the low run-rate stayed with them until the end. Pakistan’s team attracted ridicule after their big loss to arch sub-continental rivals India, but they recovered to stay in the hunt for a place in the semi-finals. Ending the World Cup with five victories and a rained off game from nine outings, Pakistan took a lot of credit for the manner of their victories over hosts England, South Africa, and New Zealand. But they barely scraped past rank outsiders Afghanistan – which underscored the combative spirit of the Afghanistan side that could have also pulled off a surprise win against India.
Bangladesh brought a unique flavor to the World Cup and was in the contest for a semi-final spot until they lost the last two outings to India and Pakistan. With a little bit of luck, they could have even started India, particularly if some of their belligerent shots against Indian bowlers had come off.
Former champions Sri Lanka’s best moment of the World Cup came from their combative victory over England, which pushed the hosts to the verge of elimination until they got their act together with a century opening partnership against India that revived their campaign.
Coming to the business end of the World Cup, an Asia team will be missing for the second successive World Cup.