India may have dodged a bullet by not having to attempt a 20-over chase in their rain-affected Cricket World Cup semifinal against the Black Caps.
For the first time in World Cup history, a semifinal is heading into a reserve day, with rain falling after 46.1 overs of the clash between New Zealand and India at Old Trafford in Manchester.
The rain, which lasted for over three hours, left the umpires with two options – try to prepare the ground for a 20-over second innings, or continue proceedings the next day, with New Zealand resuming where they left off, on 211-5.
As the covers came off and the rain eased, it looked like a 20-over chase could be on the cards, which, under the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern system, would have left India requiring 148 to win.
That task – needing 7.4 runs per over on a wicket which seemed tricky to score on during the Black Caps' innings – arguably would have been more difficult than what they will face tomorrow, with the Black Caps needing some serious late hitting to set India a total above 250 in their 50 overs.
In the end, drizzle returned, making a pitch inspection and a re-start in time for a 20-over second innings unfeasible. It's the fairest way to decide the game, but may have been a missed opportunity for the Black Caps, whose chances of victory would likely have increased in that scenario.
Former England spinner Graeme Swann said it would have not suited India to chase 148 in 20 overs.
"A frantic 20 overs, you lose a wicket, the crowd gets edgy, the middle order's not had much batting - that would not have suited India whatsoever. To come back tomorrow, they will finish the game, it's the fair way to do it, and I think it makes India the favourites coming into tomorrow," he said on Cricinfo.
It would have been an unlucky, and potentially unfair, DLS adjustment for India to deal with, and former Indian player Murali Kartik believed that India wouldn't have been keen on the chase under lights at Old Trafford.
"I could feel that the Indians didn't want to come out, possibly for just a 20-over hit. They're better off that they have a full game tomorrow – 148 off 20, could it have become a bit tricky – possibly, on this surface."
However, former New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori had a more optimistic view of the Black Caps' situation.
"From the players' side of things, I think New Zealand will be happy, because best case scenario they score 40 or 50 off these four overs, if they post 250 or 260, that gives them an opportunity.
"If it was 148 in a 20-over game, then India are stacked with their batting, and they have some exceptionally good T20 players.
"New Zealand won't be feeling good, but they'll be feeling better that they have a chance to come back tomorrow and assess."
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission