Okay, this is it folks. Semi finals of the ICC World Cup 2019. India vs. New Zealand. Will India win?
Well, India came out of the group stages as the top-ranked side – they won all of their games, except the one against England, which critics say they lost deliberately, just to knock out Pakistan from the World Cup.
If they did, that is sheer genius, especially on part of MS Dhoni, the most celebrated Indian cricketer of all time, perhaps more popular than “God”, Sachin Tendulkar.
India expected to face England, but South Africa did them a massive favor by beating Australia in the last match. So turns out it will be Australia taking on Old Enemy England while India take on the relatively weak New Zealand.
New Zealand, it is fair to say, have been very lucky to get this far. They had a bright start, and won most of their matches at the start of the World Cup. Not a surprise as most of those games were against lower ranked teams.
They were fortunate that their match against India was washed off because of rain. Their last win came 18 days ago, believe it or not, when they barely managed to hang on against the West Indies, when Carlos Braighwaithe almost took the match away from them with a brilliant 101.
Since then New Zealand have done nothing at all and looked very down on confidence. They will be taking on powerful Indian outfit which has finally found its best combination. Really, this is not even a contest. It’s like a heavyweight champion taking on a lightweight.
But surprises are known to happen in cricket, so never count anyone out. New Zealand have a world class batsman in Kane Williamson. If he anchors the innings and gets a big hundred, and the other players support him then they can certainly offer some contest.
That is why Williamson’s wicket will be important. Get that, and India are through. Jaspreet Bumrah, the world’s greatest fast bowler, we are sure, will have a special plan for Williamson.
The Indian batting is just too good. They have match winners at every position now that they have gotten rid of deadwood like Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav. They face a threat from Lockie Ferguson, the only real fast bowler New Zealand have. Apart from that there is nothing to fear.
India: 1 KL Rahul, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Rishabh Pant, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Dinesh Karthik/Kedar Jadhav, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 and 10 two out of Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal and Mohammed Shami, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
New Zealand: 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Henry Nicholls, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Tom Latham (wk), 6 James Neesham, 7 Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Matt Henry, 10 Lockie Ferguson, 11 Trent Boult
Old Trafford in Manchester is one of those grounds where you have to bat first if you win the toss. The pitch gets worse as the day goes along. Also, light showers have been forecast. So, we may get a rain curtailed match.
Prediction: India should win, but we may have a contest if they lose the toss and New Zealand bat first and put up a big score.