India has proved a nigh on unstoppable force at the Cricket World Cup –– but it had no answer to the infamous English weather as rain cut short its semifinal clash against New Zealand Tuesday.
Virat Kohli’s side, beaten just once in its nine group games, had reduced New Zealand to 211-5 off 46.1 overs when rain began to fall around 2 p.m local time (8 a.m ET). Play was eventually called off at 6.25 p.m (1.25 p.m) with no further action possible.
Instead, the two teams will resume play in Manchester on Wednesday morning with India favorite to face either England or Australia in Sunday’s showpiece final.
The rain delay will have frustrated both sides with New Zealand, which struggled early on in its innings, beginning to fight back against the Indian bowling attack.
After losing its first wicket with just a single run on the board, captain Kane Williamson helped steady the situation with another half century, while Ross Taylor remained unbeaten on 67 when the rain came down.
On a slow pitch, New Zealand will have 23 balls to face before India launches it response with a full 50 overs at its disposal.
Only two teams at this year’s tournament have successfully chased down a score of over 250 and so India, with star bowler Jasprit Bumrah at the heart of its attack, will be hoping to restrict its opponents to as few runs as possible.
While India arrived at Old Trafford top of the group stage table with eight wins from nine and backed by thousands of fans, New Zealand’s arrival at the semifinal stage was rather less impressive.
Three consecutive defeats in its three final group games meant it only just qualified for the last four, despite having won five of its first six matches with the washed out game against India the only blot on a perfect start.
Once again it was Williamson, the captain, who offered hope for the Black Caps. One of the most talented batsmen in world cricket, Williamson’s 67 allowed New Zealand to recover from a dreadfully slow start punctuated by the loss of wickets.
When he was finally dismissed, the baton passed to Taylor, who remained unbeaten at the close alongside Tom Latham.
Only once in its previous seven attempts has New Zealand progressed from the last four to the final at the World Cup.
That was four years ago when the Black Caps overcame South Africa before losing out to Australia in the final.
India, a two-time winner of the competition, last lifted the trophy on home soil back in 2011.