IND favourites as NZ bid for CWC semi-final upset

2019-07-09 at 13:06

India and New Zealand will be battling it out in the first semi-final of the World Cup 2019 later today.

Both teams will be facing each other for the first time in this tournament after the league game between the two sides was washed-out without a ball being bowled in Birmingham last month.

India, whose group match against 2015 runners-up New Zealand was also washed out, have suffered just one defeat at this World Cup so far, against England, and topped the 10-team group table.

Opener Rohit Sharma became the first batsman to score five centuries in a single World Cup when he made 103 in a seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka on Saturday, while fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah has been the spearhead of a well-balanced bowling attack.

India captain Virat Kohli yesterday said the pressure of being overwhelming favourites was nothing new for a squad who have long shouldered the hopes of a nation of more than a billion. And he suggested that might give them an edge over the Black Caps at Old Trafford.

However, if New Zealand, who could recall spinner Ish Sodhi to an attack featuring left-arm quick Trent Boult and fit-again fast bowler Lockie Ferguson – can find a way through India’s top three, they could expose a long tail.

The Black Caps, who only qualified for the semifinals in fourth place on the basis of net run-rate, have lost their last three games – against Pakistan, holders Australia and England.

Batting first has also become an increasingly successful tactic at the World Cup in general and at Old Trafford in particular.

In all five previous games on the ground, the team batting first has won. Captain Kane Williamson has been in fine form, making match-winning hundreds against South Africa and the West Indies.

But his 481 tournament runs represent nearly 29% of New Zealand’s total.

Black Caps coach Gary Stead ahead of the game said, “Kane has stood up brilliantly for us, I don’t think we’ll be doing anything drastic, we just know we have to be better in that area than what we have been so far.”

England meet Australia in the other semi-final at Edgbaston on Thursday.

The 2019 Cricket World Cup final is at Lord’s on 14 July.

The first semi-final gets underway at 1500 Sri Lanka time.