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July 11, 2019

Dhoni run-out was a big moment: Williamson


July 11, 2019

MANCHESTER: It’s hard to imagine that New Zealand had had 18 winless days in the World Cup before Wednesday when they knocked hot favourites India out with a stunning 18-run triumph in the first semi-final here at Old Trafford.

After a rollicking start to their World Cup campaign, the Black Caps lost their last three group games and barely made it to the last four because of a superior run-rate than Pakistan.

But on Wednesday, a different New Zealand team took the field in Edgbaston where India crashed chasing just 240 for a place in Sunday’s final.

Kane Williamson later said that it was a highly satisfying feeling.

“Yeah, it’s a different feeling, to be fair,” he told reporters at Old Trafford. “The surfaces and the way we’ve had to try and skin it over the round robin and coming into the semi-finals, it’s been quite different to the last World Cup we experienced. But the guys have showed a lot of heart throughout this whole campaign.”

Williamson was all praise for Martin Guptill, who ran MS Dhoni out with a direct hit just when the former Indian captain was threatening to take the match away from New Zealand.

“We all know the game is a fine line in a number of ways. But that run-out was significant,” he said. “We’ve seen Dhoni finish games from those similar positions on a number of occasions. It was a tough surface so nothing promised but naturally to dismiss Dhoni in whatever fashion is extremely important, but for a direct hit run-out very, very similar to Jadeja’s I think was a big moment in the game.”

New Zealand had to labour to 239 in their rain-hit innings. But that insufficient looking total turned out to big enough for India as they faced a fired-up New Zealand attack on a tricky wicket.

“It was really tough work,” said Williamson who played a workmanlike 67 for New Zealand. “I suppose we had to assess the conditions quickly. Certainly looking at the surface, I suppose both teams thought it would be a lot more high scoring.

“The ball spun quite sharply and we thought if we got 240-250, we’d be right there in the game to put India under pressure. That is how it rather ended up. The guys were clinical at the back end to get us to a competitive total, perhaps without going too hard and finishing up with 210-220.”

New Zealand resumed on reserve day at 211-5 and added 27 from 25 balls. They could hit just one boundary.

“A lot of it was on the conditions,” Williamson said. “With rain around, we wanted to see if it changed conditions (as compared to Tuesday). Then with the ball, we wanted to move the ball off the seam, in the air and try and put some pressure on the Indian side. Obviously they’re a world-class side, and the guys were able to do that.”

“It was nice to get some early wickets of guys who’ve been playing some brilliant cricket,” he said. “We knew as it slowed up, it would be a tough squeeze. We needed to stay in the game for long periods. Being under so much pressure, to take the game to a stage where they could potentially win, it the way they were hitting it with Jadeja and Dhoni, the effort from our bowlers was outstanding.

“Being underdogs coming into the semis didn’t mean too much as long as we’ve played best cricket, all these sides have beaten each other, we knew on our day anything can happen. It was a game of small margins, and it was nice of the guys to fight the way they did.”

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