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The first four overs, and a semi-final we didn't think we'd have

Jasprit Bumrah was almost unplayable early on AFP

Bhuvneshwar Kumar's hands are in the air, Martin Guptill is looking down at his feet, and Richard Kettleborough is shaking his head under the Morrissey grey skies of Old Trafford.

It's clear from the first ball of the match that this is a different kind of pitch. A few days back, Australia and South Africa didn't bat that well here, and both cleared 300.

At times, it looks like the best batting pitch of the World Cup. The kind of surface that England had been hitting 350-plus on. But Guptill isn't standing on a 300 pitch, the first one moves a touch in the air, straightens when it lands, and Guptill is nowhere near it. His bat is moving like a sliding door across the line trying to find the ball. He is so square that his back foot is outside off stump, his hand comes off the bat, and he overbalances.

After the not-out decision, India get together to use their full 15-second DRS timer, before finally deciding to review. It isn't out, not straightening enough, but that one ball changes how people see the pitch.

The following ball is defended with a straight bat and head over ball; it's Test Guptill. The next delivery is an in-control push into the covers, followed by another ball nipping around that takes his hand and flies to the slips. Then the perfect ball, moving like a legbreak and beating the bat.

The first over of the semi-final is a maiden, one that Guptill barely survives.

New Zealand are 0 for 0 after one over.

When India bat, it starts with an excellent inswinger from Trent Boult, curving back sensuously, and KL Rahul drops the ball on the off side and takes off. He runs with a sense of urgency, and perhaps a little panic. No more thoughts of a good pitch; now it feels like every run should be taken, forget prettiness and stroking through the covers, scamper if you get a chance. Rohit Sharma turns the ball around to square, and they sprint another run.

For the rest of the over, they survive. They have two runs; Boult is curving the ball, there are two catchers on the off side, and two around midwicket. A few dot balls are needed and perfectly acceptable.

India are 2 for 0 after one over.

New Zealand have already batted out one maiden when they face Jasprit Bumrah. The first ball, the very first ball, is fast, back of a length, and explodes off the pitch. Every bowler loses pace when their deliveries hit the pitch; Bumrah seems to find more. His bowling defies cricket logic, and this first ball is brutal, as it explodes through to MS Dhoni. The next ball is exactly the same, brutal back of length that just misses Henry Nicholls' outside edge.

The New Zealand openers had passed 50 once together this tournament, that was when they were chasing Sri Lanka's 136 and got there no wickets down. In the rest of the tournament, they made 84 runs in all the opening partnerships combined. Nicholls is not even an opener, he is there because Colin Munro failed too often, and now he is facing Bumrah in a World Cup semi-final.

Another danger ball from Bumrah finds the middle of Nicholls' bat, and he pushes towards point. Both batsmen think of the run, but it's Ravindra Jadeja - India's omnipresent circle fielder. For the rest of the over, Nicholls pushes to the bowler or fielder; no runs.

New Zealand are 0 for 0 after two overs.

Against Australia, New Zealand used Colin de Grandhomme with the new ball; Matt Henry had been dropped for Ish Sodhi. Here, first ball, Henry takes one away from the bat, Rohit pushes to point. The next delivery is poor, slipping down leg, and they take two leg byes.

Watch on Hotstar (India only): How the New Zealand wickets fell

On the third, not everything goes right for Henry, the line is good, around fourth stump, and it's on a good length, but the seam is all over the place, not cross, but wobble. But the ball reacts as if it had a perfect seam, it moves away, and Rohit, he of five World Cup 2019 hundreds, is gone.

Virat Kohli enters, and his first two balls take the outside edge, one bounces to slip, the other flies down to third man. Rahul finishes the over.

India are 5 for 1 after two overs.

Guptill gets on to the front foot against Bhuvneshwar, ensuring he doesn't get caught on the crease. The balls go back to the bowler, into the covers and to midwicket. But after 16 deliveries, New Zealand have not scored. Nicholls has only faced six of them, but Guptill, the leading scorer in the last World Cup, has faced ten. India have not bowled a poor ball yet, not even an average ball, just probing areas, movement, or explosions from the pitch. Bhuvneshwar finally pauses for a moment, angles into the legs, and Guptill steers it to the right of midwicket. The 17th ball brings the first run. The next ball Nicholls blocks.

New Zealand are 1 for 0 after three overs.

Kohli, world No. 1 in anything he wants to be, flashes at a wide length ball like he's a kid playing his first game of seniors. A couple of balls later, he flicks in the air just near Guptill. One of the most famous people in the world is out in the middle doing what has made his name, and he looks unsure. He doesn't look right. Then Boult straightens another one - how many times has Boult curved one into Kohli in his life - but this one means more. And Kohli falls over as he tries to flick away, the ball hits above the knee roll, rebounds up to his chest. Kohli isn't even sure where the ball is, but while he looks around, Richard Illingworth gives him out. He will review and will be told it's umpire's call. Kohli is gone.

Rishabh Pant, the most famous absentee from the original 150 players at this World Cup, is now coming out to bat. The whole country demanded his selection, and New Zealand's bowlers have brought him in early.

India are 5 for 2 after three overs.

With Guptill finally at Bumrah's end, he is beaten straightaway. He lasts only two more balls when Bumrah gets another exploder off the length to fly through, take the edge and almost remove Kohli's fingers at slip. Kane Williamson - who has been most of New Zealand's batting this tournament - is so put off by Bumrah's first ball that he doesn't quite play or leave the ball as it flies outside the edge.

New Zealand are 2 for 1 after four overs.

Rahul was supposed to bat four this tournament, but Shikhar Dhawan's thumb was crunched against Australia. Rahul opening the batting is the only time he's ever looked okay in ODI cricket, and he is back there, but now he's facing Henry, who again is around off stump and moving away again. Rahul's bat is unsure of what it wants to do, his legs have moved across the crease, but his bat is somewhere between a leave and a back-foot defence, the ball takes the edge, and it reaches Tom Latham with the gloves.

Dinesh Kartik walks in; he wasn't in the XI when India were unbeaten early in the tournament, he's in the team now to bolster the lower order. Now he's dead batting a ball in the fourth over.

India are 5 for 3 after four overs.

There was a time when New Zealand were dotting up the first few overs of this match, where they looked completely outclassed. When India had finished their first four, Dhoni is biting his bat in the change rooms, Ravi Shastri is taking big breaths on the balcony, and New Zealand's dot balls are now different.

This is not the pitch or match that we thought we'd have.