Rain doesn't go away‚ so World Cup semi will have to come back another day

ICC Cricket World Cup Semi Final - India v New Zealand - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain on July 9 2019 General view of water on the field during break in play due to rain.
ICC Cricket World Cup Semi Final - India v New Zealand - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain on July 9 2019 General view of water on the field during break in play due to rain.
Image: Reuters/Lee Smith

Clearly‚ the gods are no fans of India. Nor‚ indeed‚ of New Zealand.

The first time those teams met in this men’s World Cup‚ at the Riverside in Chester-le-Street on June 5‚ not a ball was bowled.

This time‚ in their semi-final at Old Trafford on Tuesday‚ rain arrived to maroon New Zealand on 211/5 after 277 balls had been bowled.

That’s 37 more than the minimum required to constitute a match‚ but only if both teams have batted‚ of course.

Play was halted at 2.01pm and the covers stayed firmly on until 5.28pm‚ when they were emptied onto the outfield while the umpires went through the motions of an inspection.

Another was scheduled for 6.10pm‚ and all the while the clock ticked towards 6.36pm — the latest play could resume to enable India to face 20 overs before the 8pm cut-off.

But before the umpires could amble back on‚ back came the drizzle. Whereupon sense and sensibility prevailed and it was decided to make use of Wednesday’s reserve day.

Otherwise‚ why schedule it? Sometimes‚ not even the International Cricket Council can get it wrong.

So‚ weather permitting‚ Bhuvneshwar Kumar will come steaming in to Ross Taylor at 10.30am on Wednesday to complete the 47th over.

New Zealand will face the 23 balls that will take them to 50 overs‚ and India will chase whatever the Kiwis end up with‚ plus one‚ for the right to play the winner of the other semi on Thursday — between England and Australia at Edgbaston — in the final at Lord’s on Sunday.

About the only unidentical factor will be the three hours and one minute of difference between the time play was interrupted on Tuesday and when it will start on Wednesday.

You could argue about conditions at 10.30am not being what they are at 2.01pm‚ but you can’t have everything.

Besides‚ the alternative would have been to ask India to score 148 in 20 overs in a farce that would have been “played out in front of 15 photographers”‚ said one of the 15 photographers while he and the rest of the press loomed about pressbox. Or to keep playing bits and bob until the cut-off.

When the rain arrived‚ some of us had had to high-tail it indoors from the third-class carriage of the overflow section‚ which is in the stands and a good place to put the neutrals.

So the pressbox was crowded with reporters trying not to drink too much coffee and eat too many biscuits while they watched … not a lot.

At least we had 46.1 overs to natter about‚ time in which India’s allround juggernaut of a team delivered a masterful performance that could be pontificated about at the kind of length that tests editors’ and readers’ patience.

Of the five bowlers Virat Kohli used only Yuzvendra Chahal went for more than a run a ball‚ and the fielding was‚ mostly‚ exemplary.

Not for the first time in this tournament‚ the buck of New Zealand’s batting stopped with Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor.

They shared 65 for the third wicket‚ which followed Henry Nicholls and Williamson putting on 68.

In the 11th over before the interruption‚ Williamson had a go at Chahal and slashed a catch to deepish gully.

It was a stroke that summed up the pitch: a consistent but sticky surface that made batters sweat for their runs and kept the bowlers in the game throughout.

In other words‚ nothing like the belter on which South Africa and Australia scored 640 runs on Saturday.

Williamson crafted his 67 off 95 balls. Taylor is still there‚ also with 67 runs scored.

New Zealand will need many more where they came from if they are to stop India from going to Lord’s.

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