New Zealand defeated India in the first semi-final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 by 18 runs at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
It was a fantastic bowling performance from the Kiwis led by Matt Henry and Trent Boult - who dismantled the Indian top-order - after they posted a fighting total thanks to half-centuries from captain Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor.
The win takes New Zealand, to back-to-back World Cup finals, after making it in the 2015 edition, where they were beaten handily by Australia in the final.
India looked down and out of the contest but a big 116-run partnership between Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni raised their hopes of a fantastic comeback and a great win.
But Williamson took an important catch - under pressure - to have Jadeja dismissed off the bowling of Boult, and that was the turning point, that helped New Zealand win an enthralling contest.
After winning the toss and batting first, the Kiwi openers Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls endured some excellent fast bowling from Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.
They managed to score just one run in the first three overs before Bumrah had the wicket of Guptill.
From there, it was a slow and steady rebuild for the Kiwis as captain Kane Williamson and Nicholls formed a 68-run partnership before Nicholls was dismissed for 28 off a big turning Ravindra Jadeja delivery.
In came Ross Taylor and he and Williamson formed another steady but slow 65-run partnership to take the score past 100.
With the innings petering along, Williamson lost his cool and tried to attack the spinners, only to be out against the bowling of Yuzvendra Chahal, but after scoring an impressive 67.
Taylor carried on to reach his fifty but India kept the pressure on as wickets fell at the other end with James Neesham (12) and Colin de Grandhomme (16) both departing after getting starts.
Taylor took the team past 200 but in the 47th over, rain played spoilsport.
It ensured that no more play would be possible on Tuesday and the reserve day would be required.
On Wednesday, the Kiwis tried to score quickly with less than four overs left but lost the key wicket of Taylor for 74.
More wickets would fall, as the Indian bowlers kept the runs in check and New Zealand managed to score 239/8 after 50 overs.
In reply, New Zealand got off to a dream start as their opening bowlers Trent Boult and Matt Henry took the big wickets of in-form Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, who both scored one run each.
Things got even worse for the Indians when KL Rahul was also out for one and score was 5/3 after 3.1 overs.
Dinesh Karthik came in and tried to steady things with Rishabh Pant, but Karthik too departed - scoring six - caught by an amazing one-handed catch from Neesham, off the bowling of Henry.
Pant and then big-hitting Hardik Pandya finally managed a decent partnership to steady things for India and they put together 47 runs together as Pant started to play some excellent shots.
But with the score on 71, Pant lost his patience and tried to slog Mitchell Santner, but only managed to find de Grandhomme at the deep-midwicket boundary and Pant was gone for 32.
MS Dhoni came in but Pandya fell a few overs later to put India into deeper trouble as he too lost his patience and tried to attack Santner, only to be caught at midwicket by Williamson for 32.
Jadeja and Dhoni the batted brilliantly to take India’s score past 200 and keep the required run-rate around 10, as Jadeja reached his fifty.
When he was out, 32 runs were still needed off 13 balls with Dhoni in.
But Guptill produced an inspired bit of fielding to have Dhoni run out, just after he reached his 50, and that ended all hopes for the Indians as they were all-out for 221 runs in 49.3 overs.
Although it was a team effort, Matt Henry’s bowling stood out just a bit and as a result, he was man-of-the-match with figures of 10-1-37-3.
Rohit and Kohli are arguably the two best ODI batsmen in the world but this innings, they were both gone after scoring one run each. The last time they were both out for single digits was in the 2017 Champions Trophy final against Pakistan.
Williamson has been by far the best batsman for New Zealand this tournament even though the opening partnership has been a big weakness and disappointment for them. The right-handed batsman has had to bat in the first ten overs in all of New Zealand’s games apart from in their opener against Sri Lanka.
Teams winning the toss and batting first have won all their games in Old Trafford this World Cup. Six games have been played, and all have been won by the team winning the toss and batting first.