Cricket World Cup 2019 Semi Final 1 Preview – India battle New Zealand for a ticket to finals at Lord’s

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The knockouts are upon us finally in this long tournament which began with lots of fanfare on 30th of May. After 45 games in the league phase where ten teams battled for the crown, India, New Zealand, Australia, and New Zealand have made it to the final four. India and New Zealand take each other on in the first semi-final in Manchester for a place in the final. The path of both teams cannot be more contrasting. While New Zealand after a great start kind of fell away towards the latter half and needed net run-rate to bail them out, India cruised to the knockouts at the top of the table.

India could not have asked for a better run into the semi-finals. They won 7 of the 8 games they played and except for the game against Afghanistan, most of their wins were comprehensive. Their bowling has been the highlight of the tournament. Jasprit Bumrah with 17 wickets so far has been brilliant and has been well supported by Mohammad Shami who took 14 wickets himself.

Yuzvendra Chahal has done well as well in the spin department with 11 wickets in the league phase. The Indian top order has had a great tournament as well with Rohit Sharma leading the way with 647 runs in the league phase. Virat Kohli and KL Rahul have been brilliant as well. The problem for India though has been the middle order which has gone through lots of changes through the tournament and is still their Achilles heel.

New Zealand, on the other hand, has struggled in the latter half of the tournament. Their over-reliance on Kane Williamson finally caught up with them and their middle order did not stand up to be counted when needed against Australia and England. New Zealand has been struggling with the opening combination since the start of the tournament and Martin Guptill not scoring runs has been a huge setback for them. Ross Taylor also hasn’t shown the consistency he has been displaying over the last couple for years for the Blackcaps. Kane Williamson after scoring two amazing hundreds are the start of the tournament has kind of tapered off which hasn’t helped their cause either.

New Zealand though will be happy with their bowling as Lockie Ferguson with 17 wickets and Trent Boult with 15 wickets have been phenomenal. Ferguson who missed a couple of games due to injury is expected to be back in the XI and it will be crucial that both these bowlers play for New Zealand in this all-important encounter.

Head to head:

India has been the better side historically over New Zealand in ODIs but again The latter has a small lead with a 4-3 record in the World Cups.

Key Players:

Virat Kohli (India): While Rohit Sharma has been India’s top scorer in this tournament, his record against the Kiwis haven’t been that great historically. Virat, on the other hand, has 1302 runs at 68 with 5 hundred against New Zealand. He once again becomes the key player for India in this all-important game. He is due a big score in this tournament and India will be hoping that this probably is the day for the champion batter.

Jasprit Bumrah (India): Jasprit Bumrah has been India’s best bowler in this tournament. His 17 wickets in this World Cup at an average of 19.52 and an incredible economy rate of just 4.48. Bumrah also has a great record against New Zealand in the ODIs. He will once again be India’s Trump card with the new ball and at the death.

Trent Boult (New Zealand): Trent Boult has been brilliant for New Zealand in this World Cup. He has already accounted for 15 wickets and a hat trick in this world cup so far. He has troubled India recently when conditions have been in his favor and have picked up their top order cheaply a couple of times this year and he will be looking to do the same with the new ball once again.

Kane Williamson (New Zealand): Kane Williamson has been New Zealand’s best batter by a distance in this World Cup. He has scored 481 runs so far and has basically been carrying this struggling batting order so far in this competition. He surely would want more help from the rest of the batting but again he is the glue which holds the team together.

What they said?

“It’s my responsibility to play a role according to the team’s needs and I have been very happy if I walk in a situation where I understand that I need to play in a certain manner, I’m open to do that because I have walked in a few times as a No. 4, so I have had to control the innings in the middle overs and I have learnt so much in this World Cup, along with spending time in the middle that okay, this is also a role that you are supposed to play and when a situation arises you have to do that for the other guys to express themselves knowing that one I’m controlling an end and holding it to the end.” Said Indian skipper Virat Kohli about his role in the batter order in this tournament.

“We had a couple of tough losses coming into this part of the tournament, but we do need to look at those for what they were and there are a lot of factors there that were stiff challenges, not just the opposition but conditions as well. And trying to adapt to those as best you can is the most important thing.” Said Kane Williamson ahead of the semi-final game against India.

Probable XIs:

India XI:

Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Rishabh Pant, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik/Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah

New Zealand XI:

Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls/Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult

India has been brilliant in this tournament so far but they will know that New Zealand is a side they cannot take lightly. India has some selection headaches themselves they would need to ponder with Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar thrown into the mix. New Zealand, on the other hand, have to decide who they want to partner Martin Guptill at the top. Both Henry Nichols and Colin Munro have been in poor form and it will literally be a toss-up. Both teams have few things to figure out and possibly the conditions will determine their XI. New Zealand is a tough side and were the finalists in 2015 world cup but again you would think that India with their strength should start as the favorites in this first semifinal game.

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