Statisticians have to take all sorts of factors into account when calculating live win probabilities for a cricket match: run rates, the remaining number of overs, the recent and historical performances of the players, the condition of the pitch, and more. Even so, after the rain forced officials to suspend play in the 47th over of New Zealand’s innings in Tuesday’s Cricket World Cup semifinal match, it was pretty obvious to even a relative cricket novice like me that the Kiwis had a steep hill to climb thanks to India’s cool, competent bowling and fielding, posting an anemic total of 211 runs with only three overs remaining. Some statistical models gave them a 2 percent chance of overcoming India by the end of the match. Obviously, statistics can only ever tell part of the story.
When the semifinal resumed this morning, New Zealand closed out their innings with 239 runs, a low target for India to chase in a tournament that has seen teams routinely reach 300-plus. The Kiwis were having none of it though, and with a hearty fuck-you to win probabilities they dismissed India’s three best batsmen—including captain Virat Kohli and talisman Rohit Sharma, who’d already hit a record-setting five centuries in this World Cup—within the first 20 balls.
Thus began the collapse. India found themselves six wickets down before they had reached 100 runs, one of them taken by Jimmy Neesham with his diving catch to nab Dinesh Karthik’s shot just before it hit the ground.
Despite a fairly heroic effort on both sides of the ball by India’s Ravindra Jadeja—who hit for 77 off 59 balls after being involved in the fall of four wickets in New Zealand’s innings—the Kiwis’ defensive game was simply too good for India to overcome. By the time Martin Guptill ran out M.S. Dhoni with a brutal, merciless throw that even the umpire couldn’t help but admire, New Zealand were smelling blood.
New Zealand won the match by 18 runs, with India all-out for 221. With this win, New Zealand have advanced to the World Cup final for a second consecutive time, where they await the winner of tomorrow’s semifinal between Australia and hosts England. The final will take place on Sunday.