South Africa’s win over Australia in the final league game of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) has changed everyone’s plans. India ended up topping the league and will take on New Zealand in the first semi-final on Wednesday at Old Trafford in Manchester.
The league match between the two sides was washed out due to rain. India have lost only once in the tournament, to hosts England. New Zealand have lost their last three league games and with that, some momentum. However, this is a new game and both sides know the importance of forgetting past in a knock-out game.
It has been a dominant show from India this tournament. Led by Rohit Sharma (647 runs, Avg. 92.42) and captain Virat Kohli (442 runs, Avg. 63.14), India have enjoyed the fruits of top-heavy scoring. Question marks still remain over the effective striking of the middle-order, though.
Jasprit Bumrah (17 wickets) has managed to surprise everyone with his accuracy. With the short boundaries on view, India may look to play three seamers. That could mean a difficult decision of choosing between Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
New Zealand Preview
The Kiwis have been the early pace-setters with five wins, but have lost their last three matches. That may have halted their momentum a bit, although knock-outs is a different game altogether. Regardless, the over-dependence on Kane Williamson (481 runs, Avg. 96.20) is a concern.
The duo of Lockie Ferguson (17 wickets) and Trent Boult (15) have been leading the show for New Zealand. Their spin bowling is a concern, but the pitch and ground conditions should suit their seamers.
Fantasy Players to Watch
Rohit Sharma has three consecutive centuries and five in this edition to his name. He has a number of World Cup records in sight and will look to keep scoring.
Hardik Pandya has 194 runs to his credit at a SR of 139.56, to go with his nine wickets. The all-rounder will look to add more weight with his performances.
James Neesham has been the silent contributor for New Zealand with 201 runs and 11 wickets. The all-rounder could play another vital part in the game.
India could play three seamers to suit the conditions.
India: 1 Rohit Sharma 2 KL Rahul 3 Virat Kohli (C) 4 Rishabh Pant 5 MS Dhoni (WK) 6 Hardik Pandya 7 Bhuvneshwar Kumar 8 Ravindra Jadeja 9 Mohammad Shami 10 Kuldeep Yadav 11 Jasprit Bumrah
New Zealand will welcome back Lockie Ferguson.
New Zealand: 1 Martin Guptill 2 Henry Nicholls 3 Kane Williamson (C) 4 Ross Taylor 5 Tom Latham (WK) 6 Colin de Grandhomme 7 James Neesham 8 Mitchell Santner 9 Lockie Ferguson 10 Matt Henry 11 Trent Boult
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