In the early hours of Thursday morning, New Zealanders could scarcely believe what miracle had taken place as they collectively rubbed the sleep out of their eyes.
In Manchester, on the second day of the Cricket World Cup semi-final, the might of the Indian batting order had collapsed entirely; coming down to MS Dhoni to carry the team to victory. Dhoni was without doubt India’s last hope.
However in the 49th over with 25 runs required from 10 balls, Dhoni skied a ball to a square leg which was picked up by Martin Guptill leading to a run out.
“In that moment when he threw down the stumps, that is going to become one of the most iconic sporting moments in New Zealand folklore,” Alex Brae said on The Spinoff’s cricket podcast, The Offspin. “People are going to be talking about that runout until the heat death of the universe.”
The rest of the Indian wickets fell comparatively easier leading New Zealand into the finals for the second time in two tournaments.
Sports media around the world have praised New Zealand’s shock victory over India to reach the Cricket World Cup final, calling their bowling performance the best of the tournament.
“The book will always say that New Zealand beat India by 18 runs in the first semi- final of the 2019 World Cup. But you would need thousands and thousands of words to tell the full story of a marvelous, nuanced match. It placed unreasonable demands on the brains, gut, heart, nerves, eyes and soul- and that’s just for the neutral supporters,” said BBC reported Amy Lofthouse.
James Dutton in the Daily Mail said it was a thriller. “What an extraordinary match and a result I don’t think anyone predicted yesterday let alone this morning.”
Sri Lanka’s commentator Russel Arnold said the Black Caps had the best bowlers and fielders.
However in India there was general disbelief with experts saying it was a mistake on the team’s part to play MS Dhoni so far down in the order. Many called it a ‘tactical blunder’.
Former cricketer Virender Sehwag called it a ‘case of so near yet so far’.
The Indian media was almost brutal with their criticism, with the Hindustan Times lamenting Virat Kohli for his captaincy and the Times of India slamming the team’s ’45 minutes of horrendous cricket’ referring to the early chase where the team lost 4 wickets in quick succession.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among those who expressed their disappointment.
Conclusively Indian fans despaired. Pakistani fans laughed. New Zealand fans simply reveled.
Tired but energized, New Zealand fans will have to wait until Sunday for the final World Cup match.