On Saturday when Australia suffered a heartening defeat at the hands of South Africa, it meant that India is scheduled to cross swords with New Zealand at the Old Trafford in Manchester in the first semi-final of the 2019 World Cup. As far as the Men in Blue are concerned, they stuttered against England but brushed aside Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Subsequently, Virat Kohli & Co. also finished on top of the table with 15 points from nine games. The Kiwis, on the other hand, were unbeaten in their first six games.
Unfortunately, the team lost their last three league encounters and somehow made their way through with 11 points. Kane Williamson’s men lost their last two matches versus the Aussies and host England by 86 and 119 runs respectively. However, they can take heart from that fact they beat India in the warm-up fixture back in May.
They are capable of producing an upset
The former New Zealand coach Mike Hesson conceded that India will start as favourites in Tuesday’s game but also reminded that nothing could be taken for granted in a knock-out affair. He also said that the Black Caps will have to raise their game by a few notches if they fancy beating India to make their second successive World Cup final after 2015.
“From a batting point of view, New Zealand has not been able to put up a solid performance yet. Looking from their point of view, they can take comfort from the fact that they have reached the semifinal despite the batting not firing. If the likes of Martin Guptill, Tom Latham and Ross Taylor can hit their straps, they are capable of producing an upset,” Mike Hesson, who is the coach of Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League, wrote in his latest column.
Very few of the New Zealand batsmen are in form in this World Cup. Their opening duo of Martin Guptill and Colin Munro has had a pathetic run while promoting Henry Nicholls too hasn’t paid off. Down the order, experienced batsmen like Ross Taylor and Tom Latham have also not been in consistent form. It has all come down on skipper Williamson to carry his team’s batting.
Mike Hesson felt wickets with the new ball would be key for the Kiwis and also backed Trent Boult to get Rohit Sharma early as well. “The ability of New Zealand to take wickets with the new ball is going to be critical. Trent Boult plays a massive part in that. I believe that Boult can get Rohit Sharma out with the swinging ball. If the pitch offers swing — which has been the case at Old Trafford in previous matches — then it becomes more of an even contest between the two teams.
“However, if Rohit can get through the Powerplay, then he’ll be well set and ready to cash in,” he further added. Rohit has already has smashed five centuries in the tournament so far and needs just 27 runs to break Sachin Tendulkar’s record of scoring 673 runs in a single World Cup (2003).