Not a ‘Boult’ from the blue for Rohit, Kohli: Where India vs New Zealand World Cup semi-final could be won and lost
Team India's bogey team is standing in the way of another World Cup final appearance for Rohit Sharma and Co. at Wankhede. Will history repeat itself?
Is it coming home? Indian captain Rohit Sharma is two wins away from emulating legendary MS Dhoni, who masterminded India's second ICC World Cup title triumph at the Wankhede Stadium in 2011. Overlooked by the Indian think tank for the 2011 World Cup, Rohit has a shot at redemption as the talismanic leader of the Men In Blue can land India's first World Cup title since Dhoni and Co. triumphed in their backyard. Unbeaten in nine games, high-flying Team India will resume their rivalry with Kane Williamson's New Zealand in the first semi-final of the ICC World Cup at Wankhede on Wednesday.
Over the years, Team India has witnessed unforgettable highs and lows in World Cup cricket. In the 2019 edition of the 50-over spectacle, it was '45 minutes of bad cricket' that put Virat Kohli and Co. out of the ICC World Cup. Dubbed as favourites, India ran out of steam in the knockout phase as Matt Henry-inspired New Zealand edged past Kohli's men in the rain-marred semi-final of the World Cup 2019 at Old Trafford. While many believed stars were aligned for Dhoni to pull off a thrilling run-chase after a Ravindra Jadeja classic, New Zealand bounced back in the death overs to extend India's trophyless drought at the grandest stage.
India's bogey team at World Cup
It's an open secret that New Zealand are India's bogey team in ICC events. India have only recorded two wins over the Black Caps in ten attempts across ICC tournaments. India have suffered defeats to New Zealand in its previous four knockout clashes. With Rohit at the helm, India ended its long-standing losing streak by hammering New Zealand in the round-robin phase of the ICC World Cup 2023. A Kohli masterclass paved the way for Rohit and Co. to break India's 20-year jinx against the Kiwis at ICC tournaments.
The Kohli factor
An in-form Kohli is heading to the blockbuster clash as the leading run-getter (594) of the One Day International (ODI) World Cup 2023. The 35-year-old gifted himself a record-levelling century when he last played a team that made it to the semi-finals of the 2023 World Cup. Before an unbeaten 101 against South Africa, Kohli fashioned India's morale-boosting win over New Zealand with a gritty 95-run knock at Dharamsala. Averaging above 140, the former India skipper has hit 281 runs against the World Cup 2023 semi-finalists. Thus, Kohli will once again be the jackpot wicket for Kiwis in the World Cup semi-final.
Kohli was trapped LBW by speedster Trent Boult for 1 off 6 balls in the 2019 World Cup. While pacer Henry bagged crucial wickets of Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul and Rohit, speed merchant Boult got the better of Kohli and Jadeja before the Dhoni runout shattered a billion hearts in India. Boult can take inspiration from New Zealand's 2019 World Cup performance against India to stun the World Cup hosts at the Wankhede. As Kohli rightly pointed out back in 2019, the way New Zealand came out with the ball in the first half an hour made a big difference in the Old Trafford game. The New Zealander has 13 wickets to his name at the World Cup. India will have to counter the new ball burst of the Kiwis in the showdown clash at Mumbai.
When India skipper Rohit became the joint-fastest batter to complete 1,000 runs in the World Cup, batting legend Sunil Gavaskar pointed out that the veteran opener missed a few centuries because of his aggressive batting style. Rohit's explosive knocks have laid the foundation for India's match-winning totals and run-chases at the ODI World Cup. Silencing Rohit early in the powerplay will give the Kiwis a massive advantage. The India skipper has smashed the most powerplay runs at the 2023 World Cup. An on-song Rohit can assist Kohli, Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul in providing India with an early flourish. The 36-year-old played a stroke-filled knock of 46 off 40 balls in India's round-robin clash with the Black Caps. The Hitman is the fourth-highest run-scorer (503) at the ODI World Cup 2023.
Unleashing Shami and restricting Ravindra
Veteran pacer Mohammed Shami bagged his first wicket of the World Cup 2023 by dismissing Will Young. Announcing his arrival in style against the Kiwis, Shami has only shattered records at the India World Cup. Pacer Shami is India's all-time leading wicket-taker at the ODI World Cup. The speedster has picked up 16 wickets in just 5 matches for India. Shami overshadowed Kohli with his five-wicket haul against New Zealand. A bad day at the office for Shami will prove costly for India in the first semi-final of the World Cup. It was Shami, who bagged the all-important scalp of Rachin Ravindra when both teams last met for an ODI World Cup match.
All-rounder Rachin has already played a noteworthy knock of 75 against India. The Kiwi opener is also gunning for the numero uno position at the batters standings of the World Cup. The New Zealand batter has accumulated 565 runs in nine matches of the 50-over spectacle. The third-highest run-getter has also bowled nine overs and conceded 46 runs against India. Rohit's Team India will have to feast on Kiwi spinners Rachin and Glenn Phillips at the World Cup semi-final. Ravindra and Phillips only leaked 58 runs in 11 overs at Dharamsala. Instead of targetting Mitchell Santner, Rohit and Co. can also go after the duo of Ravindra-Phillips in the rematch of the 2019 World Cup semi-final at Wankhede on Wednesday.
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