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India favourites as New Zealand bid for World Cup semifinal upset

India favourites as New Zealand bid for World Cup semifinal upset

WORLD CUP

MANCHESTER: Cricket’s powerhouse pitted against a team with a penchant for punching above its weight – the first semifinal of the World Cup between India and New Zealand presents an enchanting contrast.

WORLD CUP SCHEDULE

India go into the game as favourites given their form, recent record and quality of personnel. They have come here to win the World Cup and their focus has been unwavering. The Black Caps, having started well, slipped towards the later part of the campaign, but have looked relaxed, with some players even looking for Wimbledon tickets during the weekend.

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The match will be played on a new pitch which is good news for the batsmen.

READ ALSO: It isn’t that unequal between India and New Zealand

World Cup pitches have become increasingly slow and putting up big totals on the board has become very difficult, while chasing has become almost impossible. The stats are very stark – in the last 20 matches at this World Cup, only four were won by a team batting second. This has gone completely against ICC’s wish that the tracks for the World Cup behave the same for the entire 100 overs of the match.

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Even if it is a new pitch, toss will still play a crucial role. It’s likely that the team winning the toss would bat first and put up a formidable total. In a World Cup semifinal, chasing a challenging target will test not just cricketing skills but also the mental resolve as the pressure could become oppressive.

India have already played two games at Old Trafford and won both comfortably after batting first. With the quality in their pack, they can bat the Kiwis out of the game if they play first.

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New Zealand are known as the eternal bridesmaid of international cricket, threatening to go all the way but falling short in big tournaments. They have often made the semis and even the final of a World Cup or a Champions Trophy but not won the crown. The Black Caps have made the World Cup semifinals seven times but could advance to the final only once. The only major international cup in their cabinet is the 2000 Champions Trophy which they won by beating India in the final.

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The experience of winning big games at big events counts for much in a game like this. India have the experience and the knowhow. For New Zealand, it is unfamiliar territory. They will have to rise beyond themselves if they have to make history.

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The decisive matchup on Tuesday could very well be Rohit Sharma vs Trent Boult. The Kiwi speedster has often exploited India’s weakness against left-arm pace. Boult had opened up the Indian top order in the World Cup warm-up match, taking care of Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul early in the innings. If Sharma can see through Boult’s first spell, then New Zealand should be ready for a bolt from the man in blue.

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As for the team combo, Yuzvendra Chahal, who was rested for the game against Sri Lanka, should come back into the eleven.

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Early on in the World Cup, rain played tricks with India’s campaign. It is likely to return on Tuesday to make some disruption, according to the met forecasts. But knockout games in the World Cup have reserve days and that makes the match secure.

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OOPS! India wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer attempts to catch New Zealand’s Glenn Turner during the World Cup at Old Trafford in 1975.NZ won by 4 wickets in the last meeting between the two at this venue
Source : timesofindia

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