What’s the most you’ve ever lost on a coin toss? That’s itthe most memorable line in 2007’s intense masterpiece No Country For Old Men, and it certainly had something to do with around 9pm last night.
OK, so no one was in danger of being murdered with a cattle bolt gun, but the stakes were still high as the toss took place at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. A place in the Cricket World Cup final was on the line and the Black Caps’ first goal was to ensure they batted first against India.
Kane Williamson called tails. It came up heads. For the next 50 overs, the Black Caps paid for it as the in-form Indian order romped their way to 397/4. It was the nightmare that New Zealand cricket fans had to endure before they even closed, with the ball being deposited in the Wankhede Stadium at an alarming rate.
You can’t blame it all on the park. The Black Caps pace unit combined for 261 runs from 28 overs, with Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill bowling some over-friendly deliveries. Although the dangerous Sharma was removed for 47, that only brought Virat Kohli to the crease with a record on his mind.
With David Beckham watching, the New Zealand teams had very bad luck in the World Cup this yearhis Indian counterpart in terms of star power racked up 117. It’s Kohli’s 50th ODI ton, breaking Sachin Tendulkar’s record and just to make it worse for the Black Caps, Shreyas Iyer at the other end was helping himself to 105 at the even faster rate.
It resulted in the second-highest successful chase in ODI history for the Black Caps, and while things looked good for a while when Daryl Mitchell and Kane Williamson put together a 181-run stand, things falling fast once. the Black Caps skipper was removed for 69 .
Mitchell’s knock of 134 was masterful, hitting 16 boundaries including the longest six of the tournament – a perfect swat over the cow corner that slammed into the upper deck of the stadium and silenced the blue-clad crowd who had thought every something from the end of India. innings that was just going to be a premature victory lap. For insomniacs back in New Zealand, it was making the long night worth it, but that’s as good as it got.
If Mitchell had stuck around, things might have been different, but the tail couldn’t go away and the Black Caps fell 71 runs short. Mohammed Shami walked out with incredible figures of 7-57, including the entire top and middle order, as the field did exactly as predicted.
This is where things need to be put into perspective, however. Although the apparent change of pitch at the 11th hour is highly questionable in terms of cricket, the debate about the overall home country advantage is not unique even to the World Cup. The hosts have not only made the final in the last four tournaments but won it – with co-hosts New Zealand in 2015 being the beaten finalist after winning eight games in a row under home conditions.
The Black Caps needed a few things to go their way last night. There wasn’t a big one, the toss, but at least one that did when it was a big partnership to put them at least within touching distance of what would be an incredible run chase. The problem is that they needed another one and it never came, nor did any of the bowlers apart from Mitchell Santner have a decent change to at least go for 30-40 runs from their 10 overs.
It’s a cold consolation that it wasn’t as heartbreaking as the last time the Black Caps bowed out, at least. But it does not hide that this is another deep run for them in the World Cup from which they came home empty-handed. But hey – at least they got to meet David Beckham.
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