The first semi-final sees India battle it out with New Zealand. Both teams have been incredibly consistent throughout the group stages and will look to play their A-game. The group stage encounter between these two sides was washed out, meaning that they will keep their cards close to their chest.
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Head to Head – India vs New Zealand(In WCs):-
Both teams have not faced each other in the World Cup since the 2003 edition. The Kiwis hold a slender 4-3 lead, but all of their 3 losses to India have come on English soil.
Predicted Teams in India vs New Zealand :-
Both teams will look to resist the temptation of playing their most in-form sides over playing a team which best suits the surface. There are several toss-ups for a berth in the Indian starting XI. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has a better economy of 7.09 at the death, when compared to Shami’s 9.62. The Old Trafford pitch is flat but has bore witness to spinners getting some purchase, meaning that Shami will have to be sacrificed for Yuzvendra Chahal. With Bhuvi in the squad, he will offer the necessary balance required to the batting line-up as well, enabling India to pick both Kuldeep and Chahal over Jadeja. How the surface appears on matchday will determine who gets the nod. Dinesh Karthik’s experience and versatility will help him secure a place in the XI, but he could make way for an extra bowler if deemed necessary. Hardik has done well as the fifth bowler, bowling his full quota and picking crucial wickets. Assistant coach Sanjay Bangar recently said that India will stick with Pandya as the fifth bowler.
New Zealand will have to pick one out of Henry Nicholls or Colin Munro to partner Martin Guptill. Nicholls was unlucky not to opt for a review against England and despite two failed outings, should be given a third chance. Lockie Ferguson has recovered from injury and will replace Tim Southee.
India:– Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Rishabh Pant, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal
New Zealand:- Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, James Neesham, Colin De Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult
Pitch and Conditions:-
The forecast predicts a 50% probability of scattered showers. There is a reserve day for a wash-out if required.
Old Trafford favours the batsmen and is a bat-first wicket. The surface is quite fresh, meaning that it will remain good for batting throughout the match. It has aided spinners throughout the tournament, offering decent turn.
The Indian openers have been in very good form. Rohit Sharma is playing out of his skin and KL Rahul has been a able ally. The Indian batting order looks settled, Pant at #4 has shown maturity. Trent Boult will look to break the Indian opening partnership and put pressure on the middle order. If India are chasing, they will look to start with a bang, similar to what they did against Sri Lanka.
Tom Latham returned to form with a timely half century and being a good player of spin, he will look to seize control in the middle overs. India will expose Williamson to spin early, as his wicket is key.
A lot will ride on who wins the toss, with the team batting first enjoying a big advantage. With a spot in the finals on the line, expect some fireworks and enjoy some top quality cricket.
Also published on Medium.