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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

An India-New Zealand semi story: An element of spice & unpredictability

India starts as favourites, but should take nothing for granted against New Zealand

editorials Updated: Jul 08, 2019 19:54 IST

Hindustan Times
Indian cricket during a training session, England, June 19. Beyond the top three, India’s batting is suspect. Sharma cannot score a century every time he walks out to bat. And there is not enough evidence of how, without towering contributions from the top three, India will handle a big run chase
Indian cricket during a training session, England, June 19. Beyond the top three, India’s batting is suspect. Sharma cannot score a century every time he walks out to bat. And there is not enough evidence of how, without towering contributions from the top three, India will handle a big run chase(AP)
         

India will fancy its chances against New Zealand in the ICC World Cup semi-final on Tuesday. New Zealand, the perennial underdogs, started the tournament at a gallop, but has lost its last three matches. Its openers have had a dismal run; it relies too heavily on its captain, Kane Williamson; and of the formidable fast bowling duo of Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson, the latter is carrying an injury niggle.

India, on the other hand, has built up a fine head of steam. It has topped the group stages, having lost only one match; Rohit Sharma has defied the law of averages (and, on occasion, of physics as well); Captain Virat Kohli, calm and consistent, is due a big score; Jasprit Bumrah has lived up to every expectation; Mohammad Shami, despite being expensive towards the end of an innings, seems reborn as an attacking threat; and the team looks assured and confident.

But there are no guarantees in sport. Beyond the top three, India’s batting is suspect. Sharma cannot score a century every time he walks out to bat (even a century from him was not enough for India to beat England). And there is not enough evidence of how, without towering contributions from the top three, India will handle a big run chase. If Boult and Ferguson strike form, and the top order get its act together, New Zealand can be a tricky side to take on.

Most importantly, neither team has had the chance to play against the other in the World Cup. The India-New Zealand match in the group stages was washed out. As a result, neither side has been able to size the other up. This element of the unknown and the unfamiliar will inject an element of spice and unpredictability. India will start as favourites, but should take absolutely nothing for granted.

First Published: Jul 08, 2019 19:53 IST

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