COMMENT: By Liam Napier in Manchester
The might of Indian cricket, brought to their knees, in one of New Zealand sport's greatest World Cup upsets. What a time to be alive.
Before pondering India's tumbling blue dominoes, and just how the Black Caps engineered this seismic semifinal shock, first consider the context surrounding the ride to their second successive World Cup final.
Only then do the odds and expectations New Zealand defied in Manchester become clear.
The cricketing world revolves around India – so much so that other test-playing nations, Ireland and Zimbabwe, were booted from this World Cup format to guarantee nine scheduled group matches for lucrative Indian broadcasters.
India were granted a three-week break between the conclusion of the IPL and their first World Cup match – longer than anyone else - and their opening game came against South Africa, 0-2 at the time.
After this defeat to the Black Caps, Virat Kohli had the cheek to suggest India should get a life for finishing first.
Yesterday, after the semifinal at Old Trafford was pushed into a reserve day for the first time due to persistent rain, India decided they didn't want to talk publicly. ICC organisers duly rolled over, forcing New Zealand to do likewise.
Those elements offer but a small snapshot into the fanatical superpower's controlling influence over the world game. Everything is on their terms.
India's rich resource, and supreme depth of talent, in a country where cricketers are worshipped like gods long after retirement, greatly enhances the magnitude of this 18-run victory.
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New Zealand's five million upstaging India's 1.3 billion population base, that alone is some feat.
India were, of course, top semifinal qualifiers after one defeat to England. The Black Caps, meanwhile, sneaked into fourth on net run rate, having staggered into the knockouts on the back of three straight group losses by wide margins.
Pakistan cried foul, few gave the Black Caps more than a puncher's chance.
Some India fans didn't bother returning for day two. Perhaps they believed the contest was as good as done with New Zealand 211-5 and 23 balls remaining in their first innings.
Written off, and with their backs to the wall, is, however, exactly where the Black Caps thrive.
This unlikely band of underdogs turned predictions on their head to storm into the final. This one is set for Lord's, the spiritual home of cricket, no less.
At the turn of the innings, after the Black Caps scrapped to 239 on a difficult batting track, India left the field laughing and back slapping. Virat Kohli admitted at that point India were comfortable and confident.
Little did they suspect the ultimate rope-a-dope.
Kane Williamson's understated men always felt 240 would be competitive – how misplaced criticism of the skipper and Ross Taylor's cautious approach proved to be. They knew they must bowl well, take early wickets to have a chance.
When New Zealand's attack, led by Matt Henry's 3-37, crackled and popped to create international cricket history by removing Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul for 1-1-1 to reduce India to 5-3 and then 24-4, belief soared with numbers in the slip cordon.
Exclamations followed each prized wicket. The air was sucked out of the press box – the large pack of Indian media left in a stunned state of disbelief.
From five-to-one outsiders to favourites, and yet New Zealand's job was far from complete.
Their fielding joined the party in a big way – Jimmy Neesham snaffling an outstanding one-handed grab, and Williamson staying calm under two challenging, skied shots.
Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni's record 116-run, seventh-wicket stand wrestled momentum back and threatened to turn the result India's way.
A skyrocketing run rate, which began at a mere 4.7, claimed Jadeja but Martin Guptill's redemption throw – hitting one stump after flying in from deep square leg – to prevent a Dhoni death special was the ultimate turning point.
After a series of failures at the top, and with one more crack to come, maybe that moment of brilliance will inspire Guptill's batting confidence.
Whatever happens from here, the Black Caps have overachieved.
Eight semifinals – four in succession – makes this familiar juncture par. Only once have New Zealand reached the big dance, in the last edition, and it wasn't a memorable occasion at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Feet will remain grounded between now and Sunday's grand finale. Williamson does not get carried away by crushing wins or losses, and that measured attitude filters through his team.
On a global scale Williamson knows his side are unfancied, often overlooked. He doesn't care. Here New Zealand again held their nerve to showcase fighting characteristics and outclass many of the world's best.
That's all Williamson will ask for in the final.
As the wider Black Caps team gathered in the outfield post match, enjoying the moment over a cold brew with wives, kids and partners, the significance of their achievement started to sink in.
Cricket is a fickle sport. If the Black Caps have taught us anything this tournament, it's they are not to be underestimated no matter how formidable the opposition may be.
India are gone, England or Australia await.
The time is now for the Black Caps to seize the day.