India vs Kiwis again in World Cup semi-final: Will Mumbai’s pitch overcome India’s ‘knockout’ worries?

The memories of defeat by New Zealand in the last World Cup semi-final are still fresh in India and most of the players of this team are also included in the current playing XI.

A major record breaking in the World Cup semi-final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, India’s economic capital, is almost certain to break.

New Zealand have beaten India consecutively in the last four knockout matches in various formats.

While New Zealand itself has been out of the tournament after losing three times in a row to the countries that have held the last three ODI World Cups.

History of the ODI World Cup

If we look at the history of the ODI World Cup, the consistent performance of the New Zealand team is easily understood. Since 2007, the team has managed to make it to the semi-finals of every World Cup.

New Zealand reached the final in 2015 and 2019 and lost to England in the 2019 final after a thrilling contest. In 2021, the same team defeated India in the final of the World Test Championship.

Former New Zealand wicketkeeper-batsman Iain Smith is commentating in the current tournament. He told the BBC that ‘There has been a quality in many of the current and previous New Zealand teams. A team does not play around one or two or three star players. The team believes in all round performance which depends on the current form of the player.’

Mahendra Singh Dhoni was run out in 2019

Bitter memories of 2019
The memories of defeat by New Zealand in the last World Cup semi-final are still fresh in India and most of the players of this team are also included in the current playing XI. Chasing New Zealand’s 239 runs in this match played in Manchester, the scores of the Indian top-order batsmen were as follows:

  • KL Rahul – 1 run
  • Rohit Sharma – 1 run
  • Virat Kohli- 1 run
  • Dinesh Karthik- 6 runs

Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya had 32, 32 innings and Dhoni could barely score 50 after a slow innings as he was not in his best form.

Only Ravindrajadija showed a sharp game and scored 77 runs in just 59 balls but it was not enough.

Richan Ravindra is in great form

Return to New Zealand

New Zealand have made a strong start to the 2023 World Cup by winning their first four matches. They started their campaign with a crushing defeat to defending champions England in the first match.

Their winning streak in the current tournament was halted by India defeating them by four wickets in Dharamsala, North India.

After that, New Zealand lost two-four to Australia, South Africa and Pakistan and went down in the points table, but then won their last match and somehow reached the semi-finals.

But it must be remembered that despite scoring more than 400 runs, they lost to Pakistan in a match that was affected by rain. While the margin of defeat in the matches against India and Australia was small and the result could have gone either way.

Former England captain Nasir Hussain says that New Zealand must have learned a lesson and recovered from the mid-tournament setback. With only two matches left now, his batting, bowling and fielding have gone through both good and bad conditions.

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Bolt has also returned to form

A threat to India
New Zealand’s batting has been outstanding since the start of this tournament. Opener Richan Ravindra is scoring runs with his bat while skipper Kane Williamson looks in good form after returning from injury.

Although Dion Conway is a bit off his true form, Daryl Mitchell continues to score big and has played the fast bowlers well so far.

If skipper Williamson and Richan deal successfully with the Indian pace attack, it may be difficult to stop them from scoring runs in the middle overs.

On the other hand, the names that could pose a threat to the Indian batting are Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Lockie Ferguson. The ball swings well after evening on the Wankhede pitch and this has been evident in the last few matches.

The Indian team bowled out Sri Lanka for just 55 runs and Afghanistan’s fast bowlers took Australia’s four wickets within the score of 50 runs.

However, if India bowls in the second innings, Bumrah, Shami and Siraj will also benefit from their conditioning.

On the other hand, New Zealand’s opening batsman Dion Conway has said that ‘the team will also rely on the experience of its senior players to defeat India’.

In a video released by the New Zealand Cricket Board, Conway said: ‘We all know India are a good team. They are a strong squad and are playing with good form but we are also looking forward to this challenge.’

Indian pacers have done well

Preparation of Indian team

The kind of cricket that the Indian team has played in the last nine matches is nothing short of a dream.

According to Ali Martin, cricket critic of The Guardian newspaper: ‘Even the Indian team would not have expected to get 18 points from nine matches before the start of the tournament. But after every match their morale increased and the team also learned from past mistakes.’

The biggest difference has been seen in India’s pace bowling as Bumrah, Siraj and Shami’s deliveries have stunned the opposition batsmen. In the tournament, Shami has taken 16 wickets in five matches, Bumrah has taken 17 wickets in nine matches and Siraj has taken 12 wickets in nine matches.

This means that the trio have taken a combined 45 wickets so far, including the top order of each opposition team.

The Indian batsmen have lived up to their potential throughout the tournament with aggressive starts from Rohit Sharma and Gill, big scores from Virat Kohli in the middle order, consistent improvement from Shreyas Iyer, and support from KL Rahul.

India will need to go the first 10 overs without losing a wicket to be strong in the semi-final match, especially if they have to chase New Zealand’s score if they lose the toss.

So the role of toss is going to be important in Wankhede as whichever team wins will want to bat first.

Along with this, India will hope that its fast bowlers will also be useful soon as the pressure will increase on Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav in the absence of Hardik Pandya.

It is important to remember that when the two teams faced each other in Dharamsala, Jadeja did not take a single wicket in his 10 overs.

Speaking to Star Sports ahead of the semi-final, Indian coach c said, ‘It would be wrong to say that there is no pressure before the semi-final. There is no guarantee of winning in any game in the game of cricket. All you can do is prepare well and that’s what we’re doing.’

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