The Indian cricket team will take on New Zealand in the first semi-final of the ICC World Cup 2019 at Old Trafford in Manchester on Tuesday.
The first semi-final of the ICC World Cup 2019 is going to be played between India and New Zealand. India finished at the top of the table and lost just one game in its entire campaign. New Zealand finished fourth and was slightly lucky to have scraped through to the semi-final on the basis of net run-rate.
Interestingly, the only game that was washed out for both India and New Zealand was against each other. They played against each other in a warm-up game before the start of the actual World Cup 2019, a match that was won by New Zealand.
India comes into this match full of confidence with most of its players in form while New Zealand comes after three straight defeats in its last three matches.
Road to the Semi-finals
Best performances – vs Australia
Not just the skewed World Cup head-to-head history, India also had the scars of humiliating home-series preceding the World Cup to wipe out. And now with Steve Smith and David Warner strengthening the Aussie juggernaut on a ten-match winning streak, India successfully managed to steal the momentum early on.
A nasty Pat Cummins’ delivery may have cut short his World Cup, but on that day Shikhar Dhawan was unstoppable, smashing his way to a century, with a steady Rohit Sharma, the typical Virat Kohli and a promoted Hardik Pandya lifting the total to 352. Then the seamers were exceptional with their lengths, and it does tell you a story when Warner scratches around for an 84-ball 56.
Nervy performance – Vs Afghanistan
It was meant to be a walkover. The contrast in confidence couldn’t have been more pronounced. India were fresh from handing over a thrashing to Pakistan, while Afghanistan were fresh from being handed over one by England. But India were stretched to their absolute limit.
The batting – apart from Kohli – never really got going, with the Dhoni-Jadhav stand stagnating towards the death overs, leaving India with 224/8. Afghanistan seemed to be cruising in their chase at one stage with Shahidi and Rahmat Shah seemingly at ease, but Bumrah changed everything, getting both of them in the same over like only he can. Again when things were getting iffy in the death, Shami cleaned it up with a hat-trick.
How does the graph look?
After wins over South Africa, Australia and Pakistan, each one getting more and more clinical, it appeared as though India had peaked a little too soon. And that was just the case, with the intensity clearly lacking against Afghanistan and West Indies, before the lack of intent being openly exposed against England. It triggered a timely wake-up call, a call to be less rigid with their team combinations, with the team then clearly lifting their standards to brush away Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Best player so far – Rohit Sharma
It’s often self-explanatory when someone seriously challenges the all-time record for the most runs in a World Cup within the league stage itself. But with five centuries – a tournament record already – and two of them (against South Africa and England) on pretty dodgy surfaces, he’s carried India’s batting mantle single-handedly. Yes, Bumrah has been exceptional with the ball, but with numbers as blatant as these.
Rohit Sharma has made it impossible to look beyond him.
The one for the knockouts – Virat Kohli
It’s not often that Kohli is forced to play second fiddle.
Alas, such has been Rohit’s dominance that Kohli has hardly had anything to do, and in the few instances where he actually did, he’s only scored untypical, pretty fifties. But trust the big occasion of the knockout to bring out a renewed vigour in the champion batsman.
Best performance: Against Sri Lanka
The Blackcaps began their campaign with a bang. They made great use of a pitch that almost resembled the outfield and knocked over Sri Lanka for just 136 – Matt Henry troubled them with swing and seam, while Lockie Ferguson threatened with pace. Martin Guptill and Colin Munro overhauled the total with absolutely no damage.
Nervy Performance: against Bangladesh
If Kane Williamson were off to a dream start, they were seriously pushed to the corner in their very next game. Shakib Al Hasan set a good base as Bangladesh got a decent 244. Williamson escaped a run-out scare as Mushfiqur Rahim broke the bails before collecting the ball. The Kiwis were placed well at 160 for 2 in 31.1 overs. But Williamson gifted his wicket and triggered a collapse. Three wickets fell for 21 runs, including the set Ross Taylor (82). After a while, New Zealand lost two more without any addition to the total. 30 runs were needed with three wickets left.
New Zealand should have cruised home, but they gave too many chances and almost choked themselves under pressure. Their weak middle-order was easily exposed by Bangladesh.
How does the performance graph look?
A lenient fixture list gave them wins over Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, but since the rain-ruined game against India, they began to look a tad beatable. They earned nail-biting wins over South Africa and West Indies to reach 11 points but were stuck there for a while owing to defeats to Pakistan and Australia. But big wins against Sri Lanka and Afghanistan gave them a superior net run rate over Bangladesh and Pakistan, who were also in contention for the final spot in the semis.
Best player – Kane Williamson
As expected, the captain has led from the front with the bat in hand. A fifty against Afghanistan and two extremely vital back-to-back hundreds against South Africa and West Indies was key to New Zealand beating competition to the fourth spot. Williamson leads the batting charts for the side with 481 runs.
The one for the knockouts -Kane Williamson
Yes, Williamson is their best bet, but him not making it big in their last three games resulted in losses.
Come to the knockouts, it’s a no-brainer that the Blackcaps need their captain to fire to cover up for a middle-order that hasn’t had a good run in the league stage. A fit Lockie Ferguson is also key to New Zealand’s success as he has the ability to trouble batsman even on flat pitches with his raw pace. After all, he is their leading wicket-taker with 17 scalps.
India goes into the match as the favourites. They will be aiming to keep New Zealand under the mat.
Both teams are in a different set of momentum with the recent results.