Sport's remarkable storylines

Guptill is congratulated by wicketkeeper Tom Latham. Photo: Getty Images
Martin Guptill is congratulated by Tom Latham after running out Indian star MS Dhoni. Photo: Getty Images
Although following sport is not for everyone, an array of emotions is experienced by those who do. There's pleasure and pride, disappointment and despair, excitement and exhilaration, frustration and foreboding.

New Zealand Cricket supporters feel all this and more.

After one of the greatest days - or should that be two days - in this country's cricketing career, sentiments are soaring. The victory over India in the semifinal of the one-day World Cup has shocked both the gods of today's cricketing pantheon, India, and underdogs New Zealand.

The Telegraph's Scyld Berry called it: "An historic act of giant-killing. One of the finest one-day internationals ever staged."

India, top of the round robin, just had to turn up to win, so it seemed. New Zealand had barely scraped into semis and lost its last three matches. Its batsmen, apart from captain Kane Williamson and war horse Ross Taylor, were hesitant, its selections criticised, its tactics questioned. Even New Zealand's long suffering supporters hoped against hope, even more so after setting a modest chase of 240 runs.

But sports spring surprises. Storylines twist into tales of the unexpected, the heroic, the miserable, the marvellous.

Take Martin Guptill, failing again as a batsman and a picture of gloom. He then brilliantly runs outs MS Dhoni from near side-on, just as Dhoni is stealing back the contest.

Take Jimmy Neesham, a year ago giving up the game in disillusionment. He catches a screamer one-handed.

Take Matt Henry, under-rated and under-valued. He rises to the occasion to catch the edges of the bats of India's star top order, and is man of the match.

This was supposed to be the high-scoring World Cup. Yet, New Zealand began like a snail on valium. It pushed, prodded and relied again on mainstays Williamson and Taylor to post any sort of total.

But sudden death is just that. A tournament turns on one result, as the All Blacks know so well. New Zealand - the rugby equivalent of an out-of-form Ireland or Wales taking on the men in black - showed grit and skill. Even if the task seemed monumental, the team would fight.

A little luck helps. Trent Boult's lbw of the world's best batsman and Indian captain, Virat Kohli, proved to be an "umpire's call". Another inch higher and Kohli would have been not out. It was Henry's day to draw the nicks, and sometimes those side-on throws, whatever the dexterity, just slip by the stumps.

New Zealand only once has made the one-day final, four years ago at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Although hopes were high, after the thrilling Eden Park semi against South Africa, the team faltered and floundered.

Both the other semifinalists have already walloped New Zealand in this tournament, and the Black Caps will again be underdogs. But the players performed the "Miracle at Manchester". and will not be written off.

The stage is set. Further storylines will be presented at Lord's, London, "the home of cricket" this weekend. And nobody knows what they will be.

Add a Comment

 

drivesouth1.png

drivesouth2.png