2019 Cricket World Cup: Semi-Final Preview  - India vs New Zealand

2019 Cricket World Cup: Semi-Final Preview  - India vs New Zealand

A comprehensive guide to the first knockout match of the tournament

groomy99
Jack Groom

The time has finally arrived. After 45 games, the crunch time is here: the semi-finals of the 2019 Cricket World Cup. There is no going back, now. One slip up could see four years of blood, sweat and toil down the drain - worthless. It is now that the character and resolve of the players involved are firmly in the spotlight.

Here, we will preview the first of the two semi-finals to take place: India against New Zealand at Old Trafford.

For India, this is merely the bare minimum they expected - and even knockout here would be seen as a colossal disappointment to their billions of adoring fans.

In Virat Kohli they possess arguably the greatest one-day batsman of all time - the man for the big occasion. He is used to resting the hopes of a nation upon his shoulders, and now is the time to show his stand-alone ability with bat in hand.

As for New Zealand, they head into the semi-final on the back of three consecutive defeats, a run that derailed a superb start to their group stage. They will be looking to progress to try and not just avenge their defeat in the final four years ago, but secure their first ever Cricket World Cup trophy as well.

However, against the Indian powerhouse - as well as the confidence beating they have surely taken in their recent trio of defeats - it is a task that looks gargantuan.

India

Top CWC19 runscorer - Rohit Sharma (647) 

Top CWC19 wicket taker - Jasprit Bumrah (17)

Group stage results:

South Africa - Won by six wickets

Australia - Won by 36  runs

New Zealand - Match Abandoned

Pakistan - Won by 89 runs (DLS)

Afghanistan - Won by 11 runs

West Indies - Won by 125 runs

England - Lost by 31 runs

Bangladesh - Won 28 runs

Sri Lanka - Won seven wickets

Team News

India has a full bill of health for this clash, and will be buoyed by a supremely successful group stage in which they lost only once, against England (who they could potentially meet in the final).

The loss of opener Shikhar Dhawan due to a broken thumb threatened to derail their hopes after the left-hander had made a rapid start, with 125 runs in his two games, however Rishabh Pant was the man to deputise, and the eye-catching youngster has too impressed during his times at the crease with his array of powerful shots.

Fellow top-order man Rohit Sharma has been the batting sensation of  the competition with five scores in excess of 100 - a feat matched by no man in the history of the game in the biggest competition of them all.

Much of their bowling hopes fall with Jasprit Bumrah, the unorthodox paceman lighting up the tournament so far with his ice-cool displays of textbook yorkers at the death. Alongside Mohammad Shami, the pair form a formidable pace attack.

There have been question marks as to whether left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav may lose his place in the eleven due to recent below-par displays (as fellow twirler Yuzvendra Chahal did for their last game, against Sri Lanka). If so, the pressure may lie with either Chahal, if recalled, or experienced all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja to provide a threat with their slow bowling.

Key man - Virat Kohli

Although an obvious choice, it cannot be underestimated just the importance of captain Kohli to his side. His frankly ridiculous ODI average of 59.70 highlights his capabilities, and whether setting a target or chasing he is the man of which all hopes lie upon. Is yet to reach three figures in the tournament thus far, though - a fact he will be desperate to change in this game.

New Zealand

Top CWC19 runscorer - Kane Williamson (491)

Top CWC19 wicket taker - Lockie Ferguson (17)

Group stage results:

Sri Lanka - Won by ten wickets

Bangladesh - Won by two wickets

Afghanistan - Won by seven wickets

India - Match abandoned

South Africa - Won by four wickets

West Indies - Won by five runs

Pakistan - Lost by six wickets

Australia - Lost by 86 runs

England - Lost by 119 runs

Team News

The Kiwis are hopeful that firecracker fast bowler Lockie Ferguson can recover from a tight groin that prevented him from taking the field against England. The 28-year-old has been a real star for his country in the tournament, providing express pace to trouble the world's best batsmen and taking 17 wickets whilst doing so.

If, as expected, he is fit, then he will likely come in for Tim Southee, who did not impress when he deputised for Ferguson, with figures of 9-0-70-1.

Henry Nicholls will likely continue to partner the horribly out of form Martin Guptill at the top of the order, Nicholls having come in for the also run-dry Colin Munro prior to their match against Australia. The experienced Guptill has mustered only 166 runs at an average of 18.4 so far in the tournament - and will be desperate to produce a big score for his country when it counts most.

Key man - Kane Williamson

As is the case with their opponents in this match, this moniker falls to their captain and best batsman. Kane Williamson is the glue that holds their batting order together, and is on Kohli's coattails when it comes to global batting superstars in all formats of the game. 

He has scored his runs at a stupendous average of 96.20 - the best in the tournament -  so far, and got his country over the line in a nail-biting finish against South Africa at Edgbaston, whilst also notching a classy hundred against West Indies at Old Trafford in a fellow last-over showdown. If he falls early, you sense his country's hopes fall with him.

Last time out

The teams are yet to take to the field against one another in the tournament, with their scheduled meeting at Trent Bridge on 13 June falling foul of the weather without a ball being bowled.

Prediction

India's overall strength, supreme confidence and above all vast experience in high-pressure situations will allow them to progress through to the final at Lord's on 14 July.

New Zealand has played some poor cricket recently, and expecting them to alter this in the face of such a strong Indian side is a task too daunting.

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